Buffalo International Film Festival Land Acknowledgement
Chwent from the Western Door – the lands of the Onondowahgah (Onõndowa'ga:') and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy – The Tuscarora Nation/Ska:Ruh:Reh, The Tonawanda Seneca Nation/Onondowahgah, The Seneca Nation of Indians/Onondowahgah, The Cayuga Nation territories/Guyohkohnyoh, The Onondaga Nation/Onundagaono, The Oneida Nation/Onayotekaono, The Mohawk Nation/Kanienkahagen, and Six Nations.
Buffalo International Film Festival recognizes and respects the Onondowahgah and the other members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy as the traditional stewards of this land, and acknowledges their sovereignty, land rights and relationships with this land since time immemorial. We are grateful to be here – nya:wëh.
Why is a film festival acknowledging Indigenous land rights?
Each year we hold our festival on a U.S. Federal holiday referred to by some as Indigenous Peoples Day and others as Columbus Day. We acknowledge this in our programming and here in this statement for the sake of historical accuracy (especially in regard to our oldest known, yet most hidden histories), as well as to open up dialogue within our community via film and meaningful exchanges in related media.
We here in WNY live in a land where many borders blend together, mixed together by the strong currents of the Niagara River. We are keenly aware of the fact that we are all part of the same ecosystem, and that we must work together in order to thrive. This diversity (and in the best of our times, cooperative spirit) is a large part of what makes our namesake city such a wonderful place to be.
The cinema is a place where people come together to collectively dream in a darkened cathedral, and films are those collective dreams. No matter where we watch them, films connect us through stories and offer us new windows through which to see our world(s). Not all of these dreams offer an escape to an image of paradise, in fact some of the best ones are born of uncomfortable truths.
Why are acknowledgements important?
While we are living in a world of posts- colonialism is a current, ongoing process, and acknowledgement is an important first step in understanding and reconciliation. Through generations of attempted assimilation, the nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy have held fast to their cultures and traditions as they continue to adapt and evolve alongside those of their neighboring nations and nation-states. They deserve our respect and understanding. We still have so much to learn from each other.
Aren’t acknowledgements political?
No, not necessarily. But they are polite.
It is our responsibility to acknowledge our hosts, and to reconcile our past, today in the present, in order to help to create a better future together. We embrace this responsibility with sincerity and enthusiasm.
For further research that’s specific to the Sovereign Nations neighboring Western New York, New York State and Southern Ontario:
Further Research on Acknowledgements:
Further Research on our Local Treaties and Living Histories: