On the banks of the Housatonic River, Bonney Hartley is standing in the sun on a summer day, reflecting on the land where her people have lived for hundreds of years.
These hills and fields and river valleys are the homelands of the Mohican nation. They are the Muh-he-con-ne-ok, people of the waters that are never still. And they lived here from the valley of the Mahicannituck, the wide tidal river now called the Hudson, across the Taconic range and all through these hills, Hoosic River valleys in the north and the Housatonic River in the south.
Today, Hartley is the Historic Preservation Officer for Stockbridge-Munsee community of the Mohican nation, and she livea in the Berkshires with her famly and acts as a representative for her nation, to protect and care for places where they have deep roots, and hto ave a voice in conversations about the land and community here, past and present and future.
The Mohican nation were forced away from their homes here in the late 1700s, and they traveled west across generations. Many of their community now live in Wisconsin. But they have always returned here, and they have always kept in touch.
With thankfulness and awe, I acknowledge that I work and live on the unceded homelands of the Mohican nation. They love these hills and river valleys and actively care for them now. They are the indigenous peoples of this land, who have lived here for hundreds of years, and they live here and return here today. And they hold beauty, in their understanding, their knowledge of plants and places, seeds and healing, their language, their music and dance, and their deeply rooted strength.
Despite their hardship in being forced from their homes, their community lives now in Wisconsin, and they are known as the Stockbridge-Munsee. I honor and respect their ancestors past and present as I commit to building a more inclusive and equitable space for all. (Some of the language here I have learned from them, and some I offer in thanks.)