From left: Provost Allison Jablonski, Dean Branham, Lou Branham, Bradley Branham, and VP Robert Canida II. Courtesy of University of Lynchburg.

University of Lynchburg officials formally acknowledged Monday that the campus sits on land once belonging to the Monacan Indian Nation. They also announced a special scholarship for incoming students who are members of the Monacan tribe.

The University’s Land Acknowledgement statement was initially signed in February; this was the formal ceremony.

University of Lynchburg alumnus Bradley Branham ’15, son of Lynchburg maintenance supervisor Dean Branham and a member of the Monacan Nation, read the Land Acknowledgement statement.

“Long before the University of Lynchburg was established in 1903 as an educational institution, the Monacan Indian Nation inhabited this land and the greater Piedmont region of Virginia for more than 10,000 years,” the Land Acknowledgement begins.

“We honor the Indigenous people of this region who have woven their lives into the nearby mountains that rise and rivers that flow across the land. We honor the indigenous people of this region who have hunted, harvested, crafted, traded, worshiped, and dreamed, educating their descendants through storytelling and oral traditions.”

Recognizing that “oppression, disease, and systematic attack,” as well as educational inequities, decimated the Monacan Indian Nation, Branham, reading from the statement, also noted that the tribe still counts more than 2,000 members today.

“The tribe is dedicated to reclaiming its heritage, celebrating its traditions, and being good stewards to their ancestral land,” he said.

“We recognize that the Monacan Indian Nation is an integral part of the Lynchburg community, and we recognize the importance of providing equitable teaching and learning opportunities to all indigenous communities.

“Adhering to the University of Lynchburg’s mission statement, this Land Acknowledgement challenges us all, students, staff, and faculty to develop balanced perspectives and engage with a globally diverse society to better understand our collective history and commitment to broader communities.”

The scholarship the university announced is available to incoming, full-time students who qualify for admission. It’s renewable for four years and is among the University’s highest monetary awards, the school said.

Combined with state and federal financial aid and scholarships, it provides full tuition for high-need Virginia students, while students with lesser financial need will be able to finance a large portion of their tuition.

The total scholarship amount will adjust each year based on changes in tuition. For Fall 2022, it’s equal to about $21,500, and there are already two recipients — Amherst County High School seniors McKayla Martin and Nicholas Fink.