In a ceremony on Monday afternoon, Lynchburg University officials officially acknowledged that the campus was on land formerly owned by the Monegasque Indian Nation. They also announced a special scholarship for incoming students who are members of the Monegasque tribe.
Welcoming a crowd gathered near the LOVE sculpture on the Dell, Vice President for Inclusive Excellence Dr Robert Canida II called the recognition, which included Monegasque representatives among its speakers, a “historic event”.
While the University Land Acknowledgment Statement was originally signed in February, it had been in the works for many months and involved a committee of several Lynchburg faculty, staff and students, including some members of the Monegasque tribe. .
Reverend Dan Harrison, who is a pastor at the Alliance Church of Lynchburg and a member of the Choctaw Nation, delivered a prayer that repeated the phrase “With gratitude I will remember,” echoed by those gathered.
Sustainability Director Dr. Laura Henry-Stone spoke about the connection between environmental stewardship and social justice, which she first mentioned at a faculty meeting nearly one year.
This link has been repeatedly emphasized.
“People are the earth. Thank you on behalf of my people,” said Lou Branham, former Monegasque deputy chief and now director of the Ancestral Museum of the Monegasque Indian Nation.
Lynchburg University alumnus Bradley Branham ’15, son of Lynchburg Maintenance Supervisor Dean Branham, read the Land Recognition Statement.
He did so after quoting the poem “Remember” by American poet Joy Harjo, and insisted that recognition creates “real access to education” for Monegasques.
“Long before Lynchburg University was established in 1903 as an educational institution, the Monegasque Indian Nation inhabited this land and the greater Piedmont region of Virginia for over 10,000 years,” the recognition begins. of the earth.
“We pay homage to the indigenous peoples of this region who have woven their lives into the nearby mountains that rise and the rivers that cross the land. We honor the indigenous peoples of this region who hunted, harvested, crafted, traded, revered and dreamed, educating their descendants through storytelling and oral traditions.
Acknowledging that “systematic oppression, disease, and attack,” along with educational inequality, have decimated the Indian nation of Monaco, Branham, reading the statement, also noted that the tribe still numbers more than 2 000 members today.
“The tribe is dedicated to reclaiming their heritage, celebrating their traditions and being good stewards of their ancestral land,” she said.
“We recognize that the Monegasque Indian Nation is an integral part of the Lynchburg community, and we recognize the importance of providing equitable teaching and learning opportunities to all Indigenous communities.
“In line with Lynchburg University’s mission statement, this earth recognition challenges all of us, students, staff, and faculty, to develop balanced perspectives and engage in a globally diverse society. to better understand our collective history and our commitment to larger communities.”
In the spirit of providing such learning opportunities, Provost Dr. Allison Jablonski then took to the podium to make a special announcement.
“Lynchburg University and the Monegasque Indian Nation will be stronger together while changing lives,” Jablonski said.
She described a series of initiatives big and small, including an oral history project and a collaboration between the PA School of Medicine and the Tribal Health Clinic. The next item on his list came as a surprise to many in attendance.
“Our meeting today is the perfect time to announce the creation of the Monegasque Nation Scholarship here at Lynchburg University,” said Jablonski. “Over the years, members of the Monegasque tribe have studied and worked here at the University. They were at the heart of the Lynchburg family.
“Today, we are pleased to recognize the great value of our friendship and to offer a scholarship to members of the Monegasque tribe who wish to pursue higher education with us.”
The scholarship is available to incoming full-time students who are eligible for admission to the University. It is renewable for four years and is among the University’s highest monetary awards, Jablonski said.
Combined with state and federal financial aid and scholarships, it provides full tuition to Virginia students in need, while students with less financial need will be able to fund a large portion of their tuition.
The total amount of the scholarship will be adjusted each year according to the evolution of the tuition fees. For fall 2022, it equates to about $21,500, and there are already two recipients — Amherst County High School seniors McKayla Martin and Nicholas Fink.
The two were a little shocked when Jablonski called out their names.
“McKayla and Nicholas, congratulations on your success in high school and our best wishes for your continued success here at Lynchburg University,” Jablonski said.
“Welcome to the Hive!”
Hugs and tears followed as the incoming Hornets celebrated the inaugural scholarships with their families, their Monegasque family – and their new Lynchburg family.