October 10, 2023
Susquehanna University formally dedicated its Susquehannock Tribute Circle with the unveiling of a special plaque that acknowledges the legacy of the land on which the university exists.
Located near the Charles B. Degenstein Campus Center, the land acknowledgement site was erected in 2020 and includes an outdoor firepit and seating surrounded by native trees.
The newly installed plaque is made from the wood of a Kentucky coffeetree that fell on campus during a storm. The plaque reads:
“In 2020, Susquehanna University Natives and Allies (SUNA) students dedicated this space to honor the Susquehannock tribe (the Sas-k-we-an-og; those who live in a place where water is heard grating on shore), commonly known as river people because they lived in unanimity and balance with the river and land. This space acknowledges the lives taken through violent acts of colonization and respects their connection and stewardship to the land. This campus rests on their unsurrendered territory. We remember and pay tribute to the Sas-k-we-an-og people who were here first.”
During the 16th century and through the years of British colonization, the Susquehannock were the most numerous people in the Susquehanna Valley. Throughout the following decades, war with neighboring tribes and epidemics steadily reduced their numbers (estimated to have been between 5,000 and 7,000 in 1600).
In 1763, nearly all the remaining Susquehannock were massacred by colonists inflamed by accounts of an Indian war on the Pennsylvania frontier – several hundred miles away – in which the Susquehannock played no part.