At Citizen University, we’re fond of rituals. They strengthen our sense of purpose and invite unique perspectives during gatherings.

Since joining our team, our Youth Collaboratory Program Manager, Davis Endava, has introduced land acknowledgments into our practice. Davis has roots from the Hopi and Purepecha people and she has added depth and texture to the way we do land acknowledgements in our CU programs. When we gathered in Boston for our National Civic and Youth Collaboratories, she led the group in a meditative, land acknowledgment honoring the people of Pawtucket, Massachusett, the Wampanoag, and the many others who call the area home.

As we approach Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Day — known to most as Black Friday — we encourage you to discover more about our complex history by honoring the Indigenous inhabitants of our land by participating in a civic ritual. According to The National Environmental Education Foundation, “Acknowledgement of traditional land is a public statement of the name of the traditional Native inhabitants of a place. It honors their historic relationship with the land.”

With a timely piece, read below or listen along to Davis deliver a powerful, grounding meditation ahead of these holidays.

Read the Land Acknowledgment Meditation

I’d love to invite us into a grounding meditation. I invite you to close your eyes or soften your gaze. Put your feet on the ground and lower your shoulders to relax. Maybe shake your body slightly to allow the rest of you to relax too, spine coming back into form, your hips equally on your chair. Put your phone down and pause. There’s a whirlwind of things that come before getting to this moment and I want to invite you to come into this space and be able to drop all of those pieces, the technology that you needed to navigate to get here. Imagine all of those logistics as strings of your energy. The energy tied to your phone, or work, or the state of things in the world. I invite you to, even if just for a moment, to bring that energy back inside. Slowly imagine those little pieces of your energy and gently bring them back into your body until you’re fully in this moment, in presence right here, right now.

I invite you to, if possible, put your feet on the ground, or just notice where you’re touching the earth and notice how it feels to have pulled your energy back inside you, to be able to show up fully present during this day. The Citizen University community is a powerful connection of so many amazing civic innovators, leaders, and people who care from around the country. You are one of those people. I invite you to go into your mind and into your body and feel that knowing of yourself, that sense of why you are here. Allow that “why” to come up to the top of your heart. It doesn’t have to be just one “why” why you’re a part of this community; you could have even three or ten “whys”. It could be none, maybe you’re just here. But if it comes, I invite you to allow that “why” to surface, and as it does, I invite you to hold onto that, with your feet on the ground, your “why” on your heart, and your energy in your body.

I invite you to, with your “why” on your heart and your energy in your body, your feet on the ground, to bring into your awareness THAT the ancestors of the place you’re on also had “whys” and also had energy in their bodies and were connected with their feet to this land. The founding of the United States of America took place in Boston, so today I will name the people of that land, but I invite you to bring into awareness the ancestors of your place too. The people of Pawtucket, the Massachusett, the Wampanoag and many others lived and still live on the soil that is now called Boston. These tribes, and those who have been here and poured their hearts and souls, their “whys,” throughout their lives into this soil and into this land. That legacy and continued soul is a piece of the power that we are stepping into by being on this land.

In Boston, the plants of the White Fir, the American Beach Grass, the Wood Anemone, with their roots deep, deep in the ground, ground us, have been connected to Bostonians for generations, and have their own lives and relationships to this land, feeding it, nourishing it, and composting into nourishing soil that allows more growth. I invite you to imagine a few native plants that live where you are, and give gratitude to them.

And in Boston, the animals of the Bobcat, the Moose, the White Tailed Deer, all of them having their own connections to this place, their own ways of harnessing and holding and spreading power. Their own communities. Again, I invite you to imagine those animals that live where you are.

I invite you to come back into your body, with your “why” in your heart, your energy in your body, your feet on the ground, and your eyes closed or softly open. As we hold in our hearts the awareness of those who came before us, maybe they will become a piece of how you connect with the journey of being grateful, and committing to actions that will support the continued legacy of the plants, animals, and humans that have for time in memorial called where you stand their home. These enduring legacies, rooted in time immemorial, are there as we co-create the world we aspire to give to the generations yet to come. Today, I invite you to let your heart, guided by your “why,” lead you toward gratitude, commitments and actions that resonate.

When you’re ready, I invite you to open your eyes. I invite you to hold the awareness of your why, your groundedness on this earth, and the connections with the ancestors and continued relatives of the place your body rests.