October 10, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, an occasion to honor and recognize the dignity, resilience, and contributions of Indigenous peoples and Native American nations. We also celebrate the many cultures and histories of diverse and interconnected Native American peoples, as well as the right of tribal nations to thrive with inherent sovereignty. In addition, this day is a reminder that we must continue to push for expanded awareness, education, and opportunities to bring light to the complicated histories of Indigenous communities.

I invite our entire college community to join me as we commemorate this important day. On Saturday, I was happy to hear that many members of Hartford’s diverse Indigenous community assembled for the second annual Hartford Harvest Festival of Native American, Indigenous, and Cross Cultures, which celebrated Indigenous identities and cultures. I also encourage you to explore the many opportunities to learn more about Indigenous communities and how they have helped to shape Hartford, the state of Connecticut, our nation, and the world for the better. The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center and the Tantaquidgeon Museum are two important resources in Connecticut that offer additional information and insight.

At Trinity, we have a natural connection to the Indigenous communities of our region. Situated just west of the Connecticut River, Trinity sits on land that has sustained countless generations of Indigenous people. Native faculty, staff, and students have been integral members of the community, though not always in ways that have been fully recognized.

Today, I’m pleased to share that a group of faculty, staff, students, and alumni soon will form a Trinity Land Acknowledgment Committee to begin a proposal for an official college land acknowledgment and to recommend a set of commitments to help guide the college’s future work in this area. This endeavor will be particularly relevant as Trinity explores its place in history as part of its bicentennial.

An official land acknowledgment will require an understanding of Trinity’s specific geographical situation on the Indigenous territory of Suckiaug, within Wangunk homelands, and an ongoing reckoning with the college’s relationship to processes of colonialism. The college’s work also will include an analysis of Trinity’s past, present, and future relationships with the Wangunk people, as well as with Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, and other Indigenous peoples of Connecticut and with Indigenous communities in diaspora from sites across North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and beyond.

I’m proud this work is underway. I want to thank Chenille Jake ’24 (Diné); Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies; Mitchell Polin ’96, associate dean for curriculum; Jason Rojas, chief of staff; Thomas Wickman, associate professor of history and American studies; and Hilary Wyss, Allan K. Smith and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of English, for coordinating the Trinity Land Acknowledgment Committee. A call for participants to join the committee will occur in the weeks ahead.

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the perspectives of Native peoples are centered, allowing non-Native people to learn more about them. We are a connected community with a great appreciation for the world around us, and I thank you for joining me in recognizing this day.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience