We are settlers

For now, Okay Then is owned by Marc Rettig—a white man in his 60s. My ancestors came from Europe to the US where they participated in the project of colonization. This includes forcefully removing indigenous people from their land and into assimilation, and enslaving black and brown-bodied people to labor for Europeans. My ancestors used this land and labor to profit economically.

I too have benefitted from the legacy of colonialism. While I am far from wealthy by US standards, I have a good education, I have a sturdy network of friends and family, and I’m able to meet my needs. My whiteness has protected me from some harm, hardship and trauma. 

An ensemble of part-time collaborators and co-creators is beginning to gather around an intention that is bigger than any of us, and which requires a great diversity of views if it is to serve those we aim to serve. We will edit this statement from time to time to reflect our relationship with this history and these peoples.

Okay Then is based in Pittsburgh, on the ancestral lands of many indigenous peoples: the Seneca Nation, members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (referred to by the French as the Iroquois Confederacy). This included the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. This region was also home to the Lenape, the Shawnee, and others.

Wanting to be part of change asks us to grapple with our inheritance as settlers. Okay Then does not own land. (Marc owns his home and has access to family land in Montana.) As far as we know we cannot give land back, but we can participate in a shift towards re-matriarching land, towards the thriving of indigenous peoples. For now we do this by financially supporting Indigenous-led initiatives (thinking of it as a type of land tax). 

The same intention goes for our relationship to black and brown people. We prioritize the thriving of our black and brown kin. This desire has taken on many shapes and will continue to evolve. Examples of this is fundraising for stipends and scholarships supporting BIPOC to participate in courses and collaborating with partners of color, ensuring they are paid more than we.

While all of this is imperfect, we will keep learning how to show up and share in solidarity.   


Here are some resources that were helpful to us.

First Nations recommended reading, compiled by the First Nations Development Institute

Native Land Map — a community-powered resource that helps identify what Native land you are on

Invasion of America interactive map

On the practice of land acknowledgment

Nativegov’s resources — including a “Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgment” 

Honor Native Land: A Guide — a step-by-step guide for land acknowledgment

US Department of Arts and Culture: “Honor Native Land”

Voluntary tax, redistribution, etc.

Resource guide for indigenous solidarity funding projects: honor taxes and real rent projects


Indigenous people in Western Pennsylvania

Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center 

Seneca Nation

One indigenous woman’s view of growing up and living in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh City Paper, “There are indigenous people in the present”

Treaties: their importance and history of broken treaties in Pennsylvania

Why Treaties Matter  – A very helpful 5-minute video from NPR, through which Native scholars offer an introduction to land treaties and their importance to this day.

Kinzua dam


Treaty of Fort Pitt

Wikipedia entry for the Treaty of Fort Pitt
More in the Smithsonian

The purchase / Delaware Treaty of 1768

Crooked dealings between the British and the Iroquois, which disaffected most of the native peoples who were living in what is now Western Pennsylvania.

Explore History article
From the Heinz history center