• Roland Hayes School

    Land Acknowledgment

    Crafted: Spring 2024



    This parcel of land that our school sits upon is a special and sacred place.


    Before this place was a town, before our school was here, before this neighborhood was called “The Settlement” or “Chestnut Hill,” and before this land was a farm, this land was held by the Massachusett, the people Indigenous to this place.  The Massachusett were the caretakers of this site, living full lives, raising families, and burying their dead right here.  We recognize and honor this history, and seek to create thoughtful land stewards and citizens for generations to come.


    As a public school, our primary objective is to ensure access, membership, and participation of all community members in our care; with this land acknowledgment we state our willingness to work towards that vision where all feel a true and abiding sense of belonging.



    Appreciation and Resources


    We thank the members of the Brookline Indigenous People Celebration Committee for their constant support.


    Thomas Green, a member of the Massachusett tribe at Ponkapoag, provided much appreciated guidance in the development of our school’s land acknowledgement.


    We invite you to learn more about The Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, here: massachusetttribe.org


    Ojibwe historian Jean O’Brien is a major source for the walking tour on Brookline’s Indigenous history. Her website is here: https://cla.umn.edu/about/directory/profile/obrie002


    Notes from the Brookline Historical Society’s Twenty-Eighth Annual Meeting,  January 31, 1929

    “The little trouble that the inhabitants of Muddy River had with the Indians was undoubtedly due in part to the teaching of the Apostle Eliot. He used to pass through the village on his way to Nonantum Hill and would stop and preach to the praying Indians who were located at what was later the Ackers Farm, just to the west of Chestnut Hill Avenue.”


    Read the entire historical record of this meeting, here: https://brooklinehistoricalsociety.org/history/proceedings/1929/1929.html


    From A History of Brookline, Massachusetts from the First Settlement at Muddy River Until the Present Time, John William Denehy, 1906 and History of the Town of Brookline, John Gould Curtis, 1933, prepared under the direction of the Brookline Historical Society:

    “Brookline historical accounts by non-Native people refer to a Native defensive fortification near what is now known as Beacon and Powell Streets. (Brookline, a Favored Town, Charles Knowles Bolton, 1897) Other accounts refer to signs of an Indigenous village that was located in the area where the Ackers family subsequently established a farm, near the present-day Brookline Reservoir, by Boylston and Eliot Streets.”


    Some specifics regarding the Ackers Family acquiring land (through John Eliot's brother), with no mention of Massachusett village/burial ground:, here: https://url.us.m.mimecastprotect.com/s/eNSxCgJQ2KIrpP1DF2uTjD?domain=brooklinehistoricalsociety.org


    From A Guide to the Local History of Brookline Mass.:

    “Many Indians were buried in the Acker's farm near the old Indian trail, where Reservoir Road runs. For many years after the tribe had left Brookline the Indians used to come back to visit the dead.”  


    Read more, here: https://url.us.m.mimecastprotect.com/s/V8pBCjRO8Mc2Pl4Vu7DN6p?domain=loc.gov/


    From A History of Brookline, Massachusetts, from the First Settlement of Muddy River Until the Present Time, referencing the Ackers Family plowing up the relics of the Massachusett people: https://url.us.m.mimecastprotect.com/s/88VsCkRO7Kc71YyPcJ5FA6?domain=books.google.com


    This piece from The Cypress, Brookline High School’s student newspaper (December 13, 2022):



    Other Pertinent Land Acknowledgements

    Brookline’s Indigenous People Celebration Committee Historical Acknowledgement

    This is the unceded land of the Massachusett people, whose traditions, language and stewardship continue today through their lineal descendants, the Massachusett Tribe of Ponkapoag. Today, we are living on land that was taken by force. By 1641, the colonists in “Brookline” had allocated to themselves almost all land that had been inhabited by Indigenous people.

    Land was not the only form of theft that occurred. Lives were also stolen. Historical records state that in 1675, during King Philip’s War, seven Indigenous men were sold into slavery in the Caribbean by residents of the area that we now call Brookline. The seven men represent part of the early slave trade.

    Slavery in Brookline continued and grew but soon those enslaved were African or of African descent. By 1746, enslavers claimed ownership of over half of all Brookline land.

    We acknowledge the theft of land, culture, and lives and the ensuing enslavement of Indigenous and African peoples that occurred here. These early policies set the stage for centuries of systemic racism.

    As we remember these atrocities, Town Meeting Members and the larger Town must commit ourselves to address the ongoing inequities that are the result of our history of colonialism and racism. Although we as individuals were not perpetrators of these atrocities, we benefit from these systems. Thus, we dedicate ourselves to addressing them today.