By Thuy-An Nguyen
Boston University News Service
The Boston Athletic Association read a land acknowledgment Friday morning before the start of the 126th Boston Marathon Fan Fest.
“We run on the homelands of the Nipmuc and Massachusett,” read Michael O’Leary, chairman of the B.A.A. Board of Governors, on the Fan Fest Live Stage in Copley Square. “Long before the Boston Athletic Association was created and still to this day, Indigenous and Native American people have run on these lands — their homeland.”
“We acknowledge the trauma experienced over centuries by the Indigenous people who live on these lands and continue to face injustice,” the acknowledgment continued. “We honor with gratitude those people who have stewarded this land throughout the generations and their ongoing contributions to the region. We look forward to our continued collaboration in the years ahead. We thank all Indigenous and Native Americans who have shared and continue to share their stories.”
The acknowledgment is also written on the B.A.A.’s website and the organization’s president and CEO, Thomas Grilk, read it before the start of the race in Hopkinton on Monday.
According to O’Leary, the writing of the land acknowledgment was a “collaborative effort” and the B.A.A. consulted local Native peoples during the process.
“It is important to me to take this stuff seriously,” he said. “Because this is their land.”
O’Leary also read the land acknowledgment made during the 2021 Boston Marathon, the first land acknowledgment made by the B.A.A. It came after the organization faced significant backlash for rescheduling the marathon to fall on Indigenous Peoples Day.
The association issued an apology and donated $20,000 to hold an Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in Newton, where the marathon route passed. They also featured two Indigenous runners, Patti Dillon of the Mi’kmaq, and Ellison Brown, of the Narragansett, on banners along the route.
Navajo tribal member Angel Tadytin is part of the team of Native Women Running running the Boston Marathon this year. She reflected on how the events of last year’s marathon positively impacted the Indigenous community.
“I feel like I saw more of the indigenous community rally around how many indigenous people they highlighted, they were celebrated,” said Tadytin.
Both Grilk and O’Leary expressed that they expect land acknowledgments to continue to be a part of marathon proceedings in the future.