Land Acknowledgement & Star Island Song

As a summer gathering spot for families and individuals, people are able to enjoy the natural wonder of Star Island and the Isles of Shoals. Star Island, and those islands around it, hold a special meaning for many people. Part of spending time on Star Island is acknowledging the history of the land.

Star Island is within the waters of N’dakinna, the traditional lands and waterways of the Abenaki, Pennacook and other related Wabanaki Peoples past and present. We acknowledge and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations.

Star Island Corporation will permanently acknowledge the history of the land it inhabits today. Here are other ways to make the land acknowledgement part of your conference:

  • Begin theme talks or daily gatherings with the land acknowledgement statement created by the Star Island Corporation
  • Read the land acknowledgement during breakfast announcements before folks go on their way
  • Include an intentional moment during conference program to visit the land acknowledgement plaque on island
  • Inquire with the Island Historian about history of indigenous people at the Isles of Shoals within the context of the land acknowledgement
  • Devote part of your conference schedule to a discussion about land acknowledgements and how they are a starting point for addressing settler colonial history and dominant culture narratives.
  • Invite youth leaders to incorporate the land acknowledgement into their program in age appropriate ways:
  • A visit to the land acknowledgement plaque with youth drafting their own statement
  • A visit with the Island Historian to understand history of indigenous people at the Isles of Shoals
  • A discussion about land acknowledgement statements and how they are a starting point for addressing settler colonial history and dominant culture narratives

Star Island Is My Spirit’s Home

Many people have fond memories of singing “Star Island is My Spirit’s Home” on Star Island, a tradition that we believe began in the 1960s. However, the tune and most of the lyrics are taken from the song “Marching to Pretoria” which originated during the Boer Wars in South Africa. As such, the song comes with a troubling history rooted in colonialism, violence, racism, and oppression.

While this has been acknowledged in the past, including by Edith Pierson (Star Island employee from the mid-1970’s through 1990’s) who would provide a disclaimer before the singing of the song, we are exploring opportunities to create a new song that Shoalers can embrace authentically as our own anthem. With this new song, we will create a new tradition that seeks to cajole us from our seats and sing from our hearts for the island we love.

Some conferees might be curious as to why “Star Island is My Spirit’s Home” is being reconsidered, especially since the history of the song has been acknowledged before. Rather than rationalizing the continued use of a song we know to have problematic undercurrents that don’t align with our values, we seek to create a new tradition that invites current Shoalers into making history.

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