Alison Morrison-Shetlar, president of the University of Lynchburg, and Kenneth Branham, tribal chief of the Monocan Indian Nation, signed the following land acknowledgment statement on Feb. 21, 2022:
Long before the University of Lynchburg was established in 1903 as an educational institution, the Monacan Indian Nation inhabited this land and the greater Piedmont region of Virginia for more than 10,000 years. We honor the Indigenous people of this region who have woven their lives into the nearby mountains that rise and rivers that flow across the land. We honor the indigenous people of this region who have hunted, harvested, crafted, traded, worshiped, and dreamed, educating their descendants through storytelling and oral traditions.
We acknowledge that through oppression, disease, systematic attack, race integrity laws, and the inequities that plagued Virginia’s educational system, the Monacan Indian Nation was significantly reduced in numbers. As the result of a targeted paper genocide, their culture and identities became virtually extinct.
Today, the Monacan Indian Nation is more than 2,000 members strong. The tribe is dedicated to reclaiming its heritage, celebrating its traditions, and being good stewards to their ancestral land, including the sacred Tobacco Row and Bear Mountains located in nearby Amherst County. In 1989 the Monacan Indian Nation was officially recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and in 2018, after an 18-year battle, the tribe rightfully received Federal Recognition from the government of the United States. We recognize that the Monacan Indian Nation is an integral part of the Lynchburg community, and we recognize the importance of providing equitable teaching and learning opportunities to all indigenous communities.
Adhering to the University of Lynchburg’s mission statement, this Land Acknowledgement challenges us all, students, staff, and faculty to develop balanced perspectives and engage with a globally diverse society to better understand our collective history and commitment to broader communities.