ShutterStock Photo ID: 252134119 - Emigrants at New York's Ellis Island, photograph by Lewis W. Hine, 1905


Acknowledging the Past: Settlers, Land Theft, and Immigration

As European settlers arrived in what would become the United States, they encountered multiple Indigenous people and Native American tribes. Settlers signed 368 Treaties with the original occupants of the continent but ultimately did not honor a single one of those treaties. The settlers then proceeded to violently seize the land.

While the country has developed through the centuries, we cannot ignore the reality that the original inhabitants were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands and if they did not cooperate, they were slaughtered. We cannot work our way towards building a cohesive future for all whom live in the United States if we do not acknowledge our country’s past.

368 Treaties were signed with Native American tribes. Not one of the 368 Treaties were honored. by the settlers.

Only the Indigenous peoples, Native Americans, and their descendants were truly “born here.” Their resilience and deep connection to the land endures, reminding us of the historical injustice they faced. Those, that are descendants of the settlers, must acknowledge this theft of land if we are to pave the way towards a compassionate future. It does not mean that we must share responsibility for events that happened centuries ago by people we never met; We merely have to recognize this country’s history.

Immigration: Past and Present

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the United States experienced a massive influx of immigrants. Ellis Island became a symbol of opportunity and challenge for millions seeking a better life. Like many arriving today, most Ellis Island immigrants lacked official documentation, highlighting the cyclical nature of immigration. Commissioner William Williams, responsible for processing these newcomers, grappled with balancing compassion and concerns about national security. His legacy reminds us that immigration is a complex human endeavor, not just a bureaucratic process. His thesis was entitled IMMIGRATION AND INSANITY.

Immigration and Insanity

Recognizing Our Shared Story

The challenges faced by immigrants throughout history, including discriminatory policies and cultural barriers, remain relevant today. While remembering the struggles of Ellis Island immigrants, we must also acknowledge the devastating impact on the Indigenous populations who were unjustly displaced. Recognizing both narratives allows us to be more understanding of immigrants arriving on American shores today.