Kelly Silliman and Molly Merrett: Turn Lampson Brook Farm over to Nipmuc People

Published: 2/8/2022 2:21:31 PM
Modified: 2/8/2022 2:19:50 PM

We are writing on behalf of the Western Mass Chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice to voice our opinion about a public process underway in Belchertown.

The Lampson Brook Farm is a 400-plus acre piece of farmland owned by the state and currently leased to a nonprofit organization, the New England Small Farm Institute (or NESFI). NESFI’s lease is up in 2023, and the state wants to sell or transfer the land to a permanent owner who will continue to steward and farm the land.

It has come to our attention that the Nipmuc People, Indigenous inhabitants of much of the state of Massachusetts, would like to have the land returned to them at no cost. They have expressed a vision for the property which includes living in relationship with the land and growing food for themselves and others.

We are speaking out to support and amplify this request. Most of the Nipmuc People’s traditional homelands have been taken from them, sometimes using self-serving colonial “law” and sometimes through outright theft. The tribe currently has sovereignty over less than 4 acres of land, the Hassanamisco Reservation in Grafton.

Return, or rematriation, of stolen Indigenous land is a critical step in healing from our violent and shameful past here in the commonwealth. We believe that returning land to Nipmuc stewardship with full sovereignty is the most ecologically sound and just decision that can be made for this project. The Nipmuc have sustainably managed the eastern woodlands for thousands of years and will continue to do so.

In this time of climate disruption, much of which is caused by western world views of extraction, domination, and “use” of natural resources, settlers have much to learn. When many feel anxious about the future, the plans the Nimpuc People have for this land offer a beautiful vision of hope for us all.

Kelly Silliman

Molly Merrett

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