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LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

2023 Annual Conference

Hosts: NASW Virginia and Metro DC Chapters


With the greatest respect, NASW Virginia and Metro DC chapters formally acknowledge the original Indigenous inhabitants of the state-owned land on which the Williamsburg area resides.


Nearly all of the land acknowledgement below was developed by William & Mary after partnering with present-day Native descendants and Tribal leaders to create appropriate language in August 2020. We thank the university and its local campus leadership for generously allowing us to adapt their language as the basis for our own statement.

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NASW Virginia and Metro DC chapters acknowledge the Indigenous peoples who are the original inhabitants of the lands in Williamsburg, Virginia, on which we meet for the 2023 Annual Conference. These tribes include the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway), Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Monacan, Nansemond, Nottoway, Pamunkey, Patawomeck, Upper Mattaponi, and Rappahannock tribes.


We pay our respects to their tribal members past and present.


What is a Land Acknowledgement, and why does it matter?

The practice of Land Acknowledgement represents a commitment to a culture of inclusion that begins with recognizing the Indigenous peoples of our region. NASW Virginia and Metro DC humbly acknowledge our region’s complex history and our places within it.


Acknowledging the Indigenous inhabitants of the land as historical custodians is important, regardless of whether Indigenous people have legal ownership of the land on which an event is taking place. This is because the relationship of Indigenous people to their traditional homelands incorporates more than just ownership or occupation of land.

In most cases Indigenous peoples in Virginia have been removed from most of their ancestral territory, and today, only two tribes continue to reside on Reservation lands first established through treaty negotiations that took place in the mid-17th century.


Virginia’s complex history of colonization has had devastating and far-reaching effects on Indigenous people. The historical outcomes in Williamsburg are no exception. These legacies included treaty negotiations, economic ties and relationships, and the attendance of Virginia Indian boys at the Brafferton Indian School at the nearby College of William and Mary.


Acknowledgement of these historical realities promotes awareness of and respect for Indigenous culture, ending the history of silence and exclusion that has resulted in Indigenous disadvantages today.


Formal Land Acknowledgement is a concrete and affirmative part of larger commitments NASW Virginia has made to promote and advance diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Using acknowledgements in official NASW Virginia and Metro DC chapters’ events


  • Recognizes Indigenous people as the First People and original custodians of the land;

  • Promotes awareness of the history and culture of Indigenous people; and

  • Formally acknowledges Indigenous people’s ongoing connection to land in general and to Williamsburg specifically.


Who has contributed to creating this language?

We thank William and Mary’s American Indian Resource Center and Native Studies program and the Anthropology Department, as well as the leadership of the Nansemond Indian Nation, Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Rappahannock Tribe, Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe, Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, and the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia, with whom the college consulted in August 2020 before drafting its more-comprehensive statement.

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