Vassar College is located in what is now Poughkeepsie, New York. This is the ancestral land of the Indigenous communities who were forcibly removed through land dispossession and violence.
Historic maps show the landscape as occupied long before the college came into existence in 1861. The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, in particular, claims our campus and adjacent landscape as their ancestral home. Their historic preservation booklet contains the following summary.
“For those who live in New England, you may be unaware that beneath your feet lies thousands of years of history. The Mahīkanak, or Mohicans inhabited the Hudson River Valley for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. Beneath the vast urban sprawl lies the burial sites of thousands of our ancestors. Protecting these sites is the job of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office. Contrary to common belief most archeological remains are only 2 to 3 feet below the surface of the ground. It is also a misconception that pre-existing structures, parking lots, and fill soil do not contain archeological remnants. It is always necessary to proceed with caution during construction to avoid disturbing an archeological site. ”
As they note, we as occupiers of their land should respect their history that is beneath our feet. We should also be curious as to why the Stockbridge-Munsee are now mainly located in Wisconsin. That history of removal, as told by the tribe, is available here.