November 10, 2020
Susquehanna University has established a physical location on campus that acknowledges the land on which the university is located as the original homeland of the Susquehannock Tribe.
The effort to establish the land acknowledgement site was led by SU Natives & Allies, and the Center for Diversity & Inclusion. Known as the Susquehannock Tribute Circle, the site is located near the Charles B. Degenstein Campus Center and includes an outdoor firepit and seating, as well as a plaque.
“When a student comes across this space, it is my hope that they recognize America’s history of colonization and whose land they are standing on, because everywhere you go in America you are standing on Native land,” said Malia Simon ’21, an environmental studies major from Corpus Christi, Texas.
Simon is the president of SU Natives & Allies and is a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe and Navajo Nation.
“Our side of history is never told, but this space is a statement on its own because it was created by Indigenous students on this campus who are a part of the generation of Native people working to make our people's story of resiliency known,” she said.
During the 16th century and through the years of British colonization, the Susquehannock were the most numerous people in the Susquehanna Valley. Throughout the following decades, war with neighboring tribes and epidemics steadily reduced their numbers (estimated to have been between 5,000 and 7,000 in 1600).
In 1763, nearly all the remaining Susquehannock were massacred by colonists inflamed by accounts of an Indian war on the Pennsylvania frontier – several hundred miles away – in which the Susquehannock played no part.
“This space honors the Susquehannock people and their struggles, as they endured so much,” Simon said.
The project was undertaken as part of the work of the CenSUs: Everyone Counts task force. Convened in 2020 by President Jonathan Green, the task force is comprised of faculty, staff, students and trustees and has been working to assure our campus is a supportive community in which all members feel welcome and supported.