Standing on Muh-he-con-ne-ok Land
The Berkshire Museum lies within the homeland of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok (Mohican) Nation.
Muh-he-con-ne-ok ancestors lived on and with this land for more than 10,000 years before the arrival of European colonizers. After enduring a series of forced removals, their descendants are today recognized as the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. From their reservation in Wisconsin, the community maintains strong connections to their unceded homelands here in the Northeast.
With respect and gratitude, we acknowledge the elders who stewarded this land and those who carry that tradition forward to this day.
A land acknowledgement is a public statement of recognition of the Indigenous people whose territory we occupy and their enduring connections to their ancestral land.
A land acknowledgment is intended to combat the historic trend of erasure, the suppression of Indigenous stories and history. It is one small part of the work we are doing to decolonize the Berkshire Museum.
In line with our mission and our commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, we must be honest with ourselves and our visitors. We cannot and will no longer ignore or whitewash the painful truths of our shared history, especially those truths which make us uncomfortable, angry, or ashamed. As an institution, as individuals, and as a society, we must confront our own roles in perpetuating harmful systems of oppression.
This land acknowledgment is an early step in our work to shine the light of truth on the past and to amplify stories from historically excluded communities.
Our land acknowledgement was written by Berkshire Museum staff with guidance and support from Heather Bruegl, Director of Cultural Affairs for the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.
We are grateful for the time and energy she has provided in crafting this statement.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is a federal law that addresses the historic dispossession of Indigenous property and human remains. NAGPRA outlines the process through which culturally sensitive objects are repatriated to lineal descendants or tribal communities by museums and other federally funded institutions.
For millennia, the territory of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok people covered a large area of what is now upstate New York, western Massachusetts, and parts of Vermont and Connecticut.
In the past 300 years, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community survived eight forced relocations across more than 1,100 miles before reaching their current reservation in Shawano County, Wisconsin, in the 19th century.
In 1965, tribal member Edwin Martin designed the Many Trails symbol to represent “endurance, strength, and hope, from a long-suffering, proud, and determined people.” Heather gave permission to use Many Trails as long as Edwin is appropriately credited.