UMass Chan Faculty of Medicine’s Diversity and Inclusion Office hosted the premiere of its “Centering the Margins” series on Wednesday, September 15, with a discussion focused on land recognition for the Nipmuc Nation.
“This series is a time and space for us to have an informal dialogue around the unique experiences related to diverse communities,” said Marlina Duncan, EdD, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion.
A land recognition is a statement that formalizes the recognition of the indigenous peoples who first inhabited the land that towns and villages now occupy. In addition, land recognition recognizes the forced withdrawal of indigenous peoples from their ancestral homes and descendants of people living in the community.
The event, which included a presentation by research librarians from Lamar Soutter Library, informed attendees that UMass Chan is on the ancestral lands of the Nipmuc people and that parts of the medical school are likely to be built. on cemeteries. Recognized in 1976 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Nipmuc Nation, like all indigenous tribes in the United States, has faced the history and trauma of their violently gripped lands and their denied personalities for generations. Although there is a three-acre Nipmuc reserve land in Grafton where many Nipmuc reside, the Nipmuc also live and work in central Massachusetts.
In her presentation, Kimberly MacKenzie, Librarian of Data and Scholarly Communications, referred to the UMass Chan Impact 2025 strategic plan in which the school is committed to taking a more meaningful and visible leadership role in promoting health and the welfare of special populations in central Massachusetts and across the Commonwealth.
“Part of this special population includes Native Americans,” Mackenzie said.
The highlight of the event was the presence of Cheryll Holley, Chief of the Nipmuc Nation, who addressed the attendees.
“Land recounts can be difficult for us because at this time of day everyone is trying to prove that they can diversify and can support people who are different from them and sometimes land reclamation is just a small one. checkbox for them, ”said Holley. “We prefer to have a relationship with the people we support for land reconnaissance. “
Holley spoke of the tribe’s ongoing relationship with UMass Chan, noting his work with researchers, who found diabetes and high blood pressure to be major health issues among his people.
The tribe began to view its proximity to food deserts and the lack of access to healthier food as a major contributor to an increase in diabetes among its population. Tribal activists have empowered their communities to eat better as a way to solve the problem. Holley’s hope is that another collaboration with UMass Chan can provide research funding and grants to study and address the effects of food deserts on the long-term health of indigenous peoples. Holley said she hoped UMass Chan would work with the tribe.
Duncan said she was looking to form a committee to look at the needs of the people.
The recognition of the earth, once conceived, will be read at official UMass Chan gatherings such as the start and the summons.