This Land was Their Land

by Mimi Sinclair and Barb Barnes

During our April 21, 2024 Sunday morning worship service, we followed the guidance of Rev. Bill Gupton and several friends as we acknowledged our past and leaned into our future. At that service, the new HUUC land acknowledgment was revealed – a statement which was crafted by church members and friends. Our Board of Trustees approved it in March of 2024 as an official statement of Heritage UU Church. This land acknowledgment declaration is shown below.

However, such a proclamation doesn’t spring fully formed from thin air at a moment’s notice. The process of constructing this statement from conception until approval required about a year of effort by Mimi Sinclair, Tracy Jo Duckworth, and Louise Lawarre, assisted by Martha Viehmann and Laci Adams. They used a number of resources during the process, including a resource guide from The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska, the Indigenous Ally Toolkit created by the Montreal indigenous Community, and a survey of Land Acknowledgements from Cincinnati institutions and beyond.

In addition to the work to construct Heritage’s Land Acknowledgement, the result spawned from decades of previous Unitarian Universalist (UU) efforts. For more than 50 years, UUs have pushed for justice for Indigenous peoples, passing a number of resolutions and actions of immediate witness (AIW) at the annual General Assembly (GA.) (The Unitarian Universalist Association [UUA] defines an AIW as an expression of conscience that, when accepted by the delegates’ votes, carries the authority of the delegates at that GA. See for more details on AIWs.) A list of resolutions and AIWs associated with Indigenous People’s issues passed at GAs includes the following:

  • 1970 Business Resolution – Indian Rights
  • 1975 Business Resolution – Native Americans
  • 1975 General Resolution – Opposing Extradition of Dennis Banks
  • 1993 General Resolution – Justice for Indigenous Peoples
  • 1997 Action of Immediate Witness – Solidarity with the San Carlos Apache Regarding Mt. Graham
  • 1998 Action of Immediate Witness – Fair Treatment for Native Americans
  • 2000 Responsive Resolution – Resolution on Support for the Cleveland, Ohio, Native American Community
  • 2000 Statement of Conscience – Economic Injustice, Poverty, and Racism: We can Make a Difference!
  • 2001 Responsive Resolution – Resolution to Establish Formal Relationships with the National Coalition on Racism and Sports in Media
  • 2007 Responsive Resolution – Truth, Repair, and Reconciliation
  • 2012 Responsive Resolution – The Doctrine of Discovery.

Links to each of these GA actions can be found at in the article entitled “Unitarian Universalist Grounding & Policy: Justice for Native Peoples.”

Regarding UUA activities occurring more recently, at GA in 2020, an AIW entitled “Address 400 Years of White Supremacist Colonialism,” regarding Indigenous peoples, was adopted by the GA delegates. This 2020 AIW called for congregations to “Research, identify, and acknowledge the Indigenous peoples historically and/or currently connected with the land occupied by congregations, and find ways to act in solidarity with or even partner with those Indigenous peoples.” (The entire AIW can be found at:

On October 8, 2020, the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) posted on their website –, “An Invitation to Move Toward Land Acknowledgements & Beyond.” This article challenged UUA member congregations to:

  • learn the history of the land that their congregation calls “home”
  • know what indigenous peoples historically inhabited or currently inhabit that land
  • know the indigenous people or communities that live in the area, including their visions and struggles
  • and act in relationship or solidarity with them.

(The complete article is found at

In November 2021, HUUC member Kathy Wade brought an understanding of our local indigenous cultures to one of our Sunday services in her reflection entitled “This Land is Their Land.” (This service can be seen at  

As part of our current HUUC events, Heritage’s Indigenous Issues Group routinely meets to discuss topics related to the local and wider area indigenous peoples. This HUUC group is open to all HUUC members and friends. See announcements of these gatherings in each Sunday morning service’s Order of Service Announcements of Upcoming Church Activities, the weekly Heritage Connection email, the monthly calendar on, or in Heritage’s monthly newsletter – the Heirloom. For more information on the cultures and issues cited above in the HUUC Land Acknowledgement, a list of web sites is shown below.

Today’s indigenous peoples:
Doctrine of Discovery: