After much research and with input from several groups, the Garden is pleased to put forth our Land Acknowledgement Statement:

As a part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s (NCBG) and North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation’s (NCBGF) commitment to creating an environment in our gardens and natural areas where everyone’s voice is heard and everyone feels safe and welcome, we are seeking to uncover and understand the histories and legacies of people on the land we steward that have not been fully told.

We acknowledge that the lands we steward are ancestral lands of the Yésah1, Native peoples from multiple tribes who passed through, inhabited, hunted, farmed, fished, engaged in ceremony, and buried their deceased on this land. These tribes are the original guardians and conservationists of this land, and NCBG has learned from and adopted many Indigenous land management strategies. We also acknowledge the Native people today, including many UNC students, faculty, and staff, who still gather, walk, hike, and engage with the habitats and gardens on this land and pay respect to the Native ancestors and Elders, past, present, and future. Portions of the Piedmont of North Carolina and Virginia, including Orange County, are recognized as the home to the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation2 to this day.

We acknowledge that enslaved African people lived on and were forced to labor in the care of lands that we steward. Specifically, the Mason and Morgan families enslaved people to profit from and maintain the property now known as the Mason Farm Biological Reserve. Ms. Sallie Mason was enslaved by the Mason family, and her name remains known when so many are lost to us because she was buried with the Mason family in their family plot, enslaved, even in death, to the family who claimed ownership over her personhood3.

We invite you to join us in acknowledging the Native people still associated with this land and to reflect on our individual and community roles in knowing the whole story about the land we each steward. This is considered a “living acknowledgement” and will be updated as more history is uncovered.

We strive to honor a commitment to serve the citizens of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, the Coharie Indian Tribe, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, the Sappony, the Meherrin Nation, the Waccamaw-Siouan Tribe, and American Indians living in urban areas of our state.

 
Notes and Resources:

1Orange County Historical Museum, Temporary Exhibit – Yésah: Journeys of the Occaneechi, https://www.orangehistorync.org/temporary-exhibit

    • “Yésah is a Tutelo-Saponi word which means “the people.” The Yésah formed numerous bands, yet they were one people, united by common ancestors and customs.”

2Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, https://obsn.org/

3Jesse Mason cemetery and the History of the Garden, https://ncbg.unc.edu/2021/02/03/jesse-mason-cemetery-and-the-history-of-the-garden/

Reports (Catawba Project and Siouan Project) on the history of Native Americans in the American South and the impact of European colonization on native peoples in Virginia and the Carolinas during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries. Website of Dr. Stephen Davis, Associate Director & Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, https://archaeology.sites.unc.edu/home/rla/staff/r-p-stephen-davis/

The North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG), a department of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, understands that a university-wide committee is now in the process of developing a land acknowledgement statement for all the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill land holdings. We will share that acknowledgement here once it is published.