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Trees of Peace on Campus

Millersville University recently planted four white pine trees to honor the land’s traditional occupants and caretakers.

The White Pine Tree is called the “Tree of Peace.”  Millersville University recently planted four white pine trees to honor the land’s traditional occupants and caretakers and held a White Pine Tree Ceremony coinciding with November being Native American Heritage Month.

Last year, Millersville University unveiled its Land Acknowledgement statement, a gesture that recognizes and respects the indigenous peoples who lived before us on the land the University currently operates on.

Margo Thorwart with Elder Sheila Hanfen at White Pine Tree Ceremony.

Attendees at the Oct. 25 event learned that White Pine trees were chosen as a symbol of peacekeeping, teaching us to put aside differences and create a safe place. The White Pine is the “Tree of Peace” to the Iroquois Confederacy, a group of “first nations” living in present-day New York and Pennsylvania.

The pine trees are located on the lawn adjacent to the McNairy Library. At the ceremony, attendees were welcomed with opening remarks by Carlos Wiley, chief diversity and inclusion officer at the University, and a drum introduction by Barry Lee, musician for Spirit Wing, a contemporary Native American music group.

President of the American Indian Society of Washington, DC, A’lice Myers-Hall, was the keynote speaker for the event. Her address aligned with the event’s theme of peace and unity. “I am Shawnee. I am Lenape. I am what you see before you,” she shares in her speech. “Come and know us better so that we may know you because you’re all tribal people. Everyone comes from a tribe. Everyone has a culture to share. Come and teach us and share your culture with us.”

“When you speak, speak words to build up,” Myers-Hall says in her concluding remarks. “Speak words to encourage. Speak words to edify. Speak words of kindness. When I look at you, I see beauty. When you look at yourself, see the wonderful creation of the creator and see your beauty.”

Attendees were also invited to bring their own small vials of water to participate in a closing water ceremony. Participants combined their water with others’ water in a large bowl in this ceremony. As a symbolic gesture to bring everyone together, each attendee was blessed by the combined water.

For more information about Millersville University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, click here.

More information about Millersville University’s Land Acknowledgment can be found here.

 

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