Transcript: Fellow and poet Cheryl Savageau, a member of the Abenaki nation, offers a land acknowledgement on Medal Day 2021.
Kwai! N’d’luizi Cheryl Savageau. N’dai-ay Narantsouak ta Wôbiadanak ta Quebec ta Quinsigamond. Wliwni Wabanaki. Wliwni Abenaki ta Koasek ta Pennacook. K’wlipaiôn, Nidôbak!
Hello. My name is Cheryl Savageau. My people are Abenaki from western Maine, the White Mountains, Quebec, and Quinsgamond. I say ‘Thank you to the Dawnland, and thank you to the people of the Dawnland, the Abenaki, Koasek, and Pennacook.’ And welcome, Friends.
We are here in the un-ceded homeland of the Abenaki people who have never had a treaty here. We have been here for 12,000 years, although our stories say we’ve been here longer. Our stories say that we have in fact been created from the trees, that we are the trees up and walking around. And those stories are very true in their essence because our entire lives came from the forest, the very atoms of our bodies came from the forest.
Abenaki — Aben means dawn, aki means land, and so we are named for the place where we live, the Dawnland. The first place on this continent where the sun rises.
Before the coming of the Europeans, we lived within the Common Pot. We lived in an economy and a world in which everyone gave from what they had and everyone took what they needed. When the Europeans arrived, we welcomed them into the Common Pot, but they had their own ideas. We are still trying to convince them.
I wanted to bring up the idea of the Common Pot because I think in a lot of ways that’s very much what art is. If we’re lucky, we grow up with the arts, with story, with song, all of those things feeding us. And when we get older we give back to the Pot. We give back the gift we’ve received, and I feel so much that MacDowell is part of that tradition. Having this place where artists can come, giving us this wonderful space, and then the artists working and giving back — the stories, the art, all the beauty that they make.
So again I want to say K’wlipaiôn — Welcome to Abenaki Country. Thank you.