The journey begins when they are little boys…the Clan Mothers keep watch. As they grow into adulthood, they are still watched. The Clan Mothers observe and notice if this young man is respectful. Is he kind? How does he treat his family? Is he learning the teachings that make us who we are as oñgwehoñwe people? When the time is appropriate, a Clan Mother may have someone in mind to fill a vacant seat. Ideally she will consult with her Faithkeeper and Clan members. She will have a man to ‘keep the seat warm’ on the Onondaga Council until a big Condolence ceremony can be held. This is what took place at the Onondaga Nation May 11, 2019, a Condolence Ceremony where two young men were presented by their Clan Mothers for acceptance by the Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

The day was crisp with sunshine and chirping birds as the Younger Brothers, Cayuga, Oneida and Tuscarora, came down the road to condole us, the Elder Brothers, Onondagas, Mohawks and Senecas. We were the ones who had lost Chiefs. We met at the Edge of the Woods, our words were spoken by Jamie Jacobs. The first three condoling strings of wampum were presented to us, their message to wipe our tears, clear our throats and help us to hear clearly again. We followed our Elder Brother Big Tobacco leaders, Mike Abrams and Mike McDonald into the Longhouse. Many people came in full traditional dress, it was like it could have been 400 years ago. The wampum string speaker for the Elder Brothers was Richard Mitchell. During the day long ceremony, Thai hyo wes (Shannon Booth) and Oh skoon dah’ (Spencer Lyons) were stood up by their Clanmothers, Virginia Abrams (Eel) and Francine Lyons (Hawk) for acceptance by the Chiefs assembled. They were introduced by Speaker Tray Shenandoah. Standing with them were Eel Faithkeepers Rochelle Brown and Marshall Abrams and Hawk Faithkeepers Delores Thompson and Elliot Lyons. The air was solemn with spirits of those passed and heavy with anticipation as the ancient procedure was carried out. The men were accepted by the Younger Brothers with the smoking of pipes and told the many duties of a titled Chief by Younger Brother Speaker Jacque Hill. The Titles filled on this day were Shode•gwa•jiʔ (Eel) and Hoyonyeñ • nih (Hawk). Their primary duty is to uphold the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee and to look out for the well being of our people. The fifty Chiefs of our Confederacy stand tall, equally, protecting the people who are inside of this ancient circle. They will strive to use a good mind, promote peace and think of the generations still coming when making decisions. They might encounter many outside influences and barbs along the way, but must still keep focused on the teachings and harmony of the people. The Clan Mothers will continue to keep watch. She has the authority to warn a Chief of any waywardness, and if continuous and flagrant, she was the authority to take him down as a Chief, and find another candidate.

The Condolence ended for the day part with Chiefs passing venison, buffalo meat, corn soup and bread to their Clan Mothers, Faithkeepers and familes, hungry from the day of fasting. After a break to reset the Longhouse, a Social was held where singers, families of new Chiefs and community danced in a celebratory spirit. Smiles and good feelings concluded this memorable day.

This ceremony was a culmination of weeks of preparation. In days past, Condolence ceremonies were held more frequently. When a Chief’s seat is vacated, Clan Mothers have installed seat warmers, but haven’t held a big Condolence here since Tadodaho was put up in 2001, eighteen years ago.

Many people stepped up to learn proper procedures and practice ancient songs. Tony Gonyea made wampum strings to use on this special day. The men met often to go over protocol and songs, with women providing nourishment. The work intensified getting the physical space ready for the hundreds of people who came for this historic occasion. The ladies got together to sew a curtain...a large curtain to divide the two houses in the Longhouse. Cheech saw that it got done, along with the help of Francine, Evelyn and Kent. Rick Lazore got a painting crew on site and fixed pot holes. They put a road in where it was previously muddy. After many people cleaned all three buildings, Kelly Gibson got the Longhouse floor waxed and the ants out. Cierra Hill did extra cleaning in the cookhouse. Tents were set up. Water supplies brought in. Angie and April took care of food for the Younger Brothers who arrived Friday evening to meet the two Clans and their candidates. Wild Turkeys from the farm crew, venison and walleye from Marshall’s freezer were served with all the fixings. The men, under the guidance of Adah met early Saturday to get the meat cooking for the ceremony. It was tender and plentiful. Corn Soup makers Shelly, Zina, Ginger and Tooger got it done. Women made hot scoons. Angie also volunteered to get breakfast on early Saturday for both Elder and Younger brothers. And because she is a member of the Oneida Nation, the Younger Brothers met at Denise Waterman’s. The Firekeeper’s Diner helped out when more food was needed. Security was on site and at the roads leading on to the Nation. They saw to it the ceremony was peaceful and undisturbed. Many volunteers stepped forward to help out in any way they could; Nyaweñha Desa, Verna, Danielle, Mo, Amy G, Randi F, Loretta, Ashley Morris and her Mom, Matilda and her boys, Ina, Becky and Ivy.

Our system of governance and how leaders are put in place is vital to our way of life. All of these procedures have been passed down to us through generations of elders before us keeping it alive. This generation, today at Onondaga, came together with a good mind and a positive spirit to make it happen.

We all took part and strengthened our Onondaga Council and Nation on that day.

Danato, Gas hae na’ (Wendy)

Reprinted by permission from the Onondaga Newsletter. Written by Wendy Gonyea, Beaver Clan Mother


NOON acknowledges that we are on the territory of the Onondaga Nation, counsel fire of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

We are thankful for their stewardship of our environment.



Path Through History: A Walk-through Seneca History, June 15 & 16, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Hodinöhsö:ni’ Art Show Applications Due, June 17, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Traditional Pottery Workshop, June 25 @ 5:30 pm - June 30 @ 8:00 pm, Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center, Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, 82 W Hetzel St, Salamanca, NY 14779

The "Country Mile Run" (formerly the Old Goat Run), Saturday, June 29, 3-4 PM Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Skywoman Iroquois Dance Theater presents: The Iroquois Creation Story, 3:00pm, Saturday, June 29, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY. Skywoman Iroquois Dance Theater, 40 minute, one-act interpretive theater performance through traditional song and dance. $8 non-Members, $5 Friends of Ganondagan Members, does not include admission to the Seneca Art & Culture Center Gallery, Exhibits, or the Seneca Bark Longhouse. For more information and to purchase tickets please visit event page.

Strawberry Festival, 10am-6pm, June 29th & 30th, Kanatsiohareke, Mohawk Community, (scrool down) 4934 State Highway 5, Fonda, NY,12068. Adults - $5, Senior & children (5-12) - $3, 4 & under free. Traditional music, dance, storytelling, silent auction,craft fair, good food & and even better company.

KOKOM LENA of the First Nation Algonquin. The Photographs of Michael Greenlar, February 3-August 31, Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center, 6680 Onondaga Lake Parkway, Liverpool, New York 13088. For 20 years, Syracuse photographer Michael Greenlar documented four generations of Algonquins in the bush of Quebec, Canada.



NOON Steering Committee Open Meeting, Tuesday, June 11, 7-8:30 pm, Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 East Genesee St, Syracuse, NY. Since new people often have a lot of questions, we recommend contacting Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council Staff, or Sue Eiholzer, NOON Volunteer, before the meeting.


Video detailing Lakota People's Law Project's meeting with AOC and her stand with the Oglala Sioux Tribe to protect sacred water from Keystone XL, which inspired her to run for Congress and stand in support of Grandmother Earth.

 After Thousands of Years, Western Science Is Slowly Catching Up to Indigenous Knowledge also known as Traditional Knowledge (TK) or Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)

One-man factory in Onondaga Nation keeps lacrosse tradition alive

A high school newspaper opposed its school’s ‘Redskins’ nickname, and the debate is dividing the student body

For a variety of news about Indigenous issues, culture and events check out Indian Country Today News and Facebook Page


WITNESS TO INJUSTICE: UNRAVELING HISTORIC NATIVE & U.S. RELATIONS. This inter-active group exercise is a 2 hour teaching tool that uses participatory education to raise awareness of the history of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the part of the world now known as the United States. Through the use of meaningful quotes, and blankets that represent part of Turtle Island (the Western Hemisphere), we explore this shared history that most people rarely learn in traditional settings. We engage in a conversation about the European colonization of Turtle Island in order to deepen our understanding of the denial of Indigenous peoples' nationhood throughout U.S. History. NOON is offering this exercise to groups, organizations, schools and churches. A good will offering to support NOON's work is appreciated. If you would like additional information or to schedule a time for a presentation, contact Cindy Squillace

The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code film is premised on Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, a book based on two decades of research by Shawnee, Lenape scholar Steven T. Newcomb. Available to borrow. Contact Carol Baum via email or phone 315-472-5478

Standing on Sacred Ground Videos. Each of the 4 episodes is 60 min. Pilgrims and Tourists, Profit and Loss, Fire and Ice and Islands of Sanctuary. If you have a group of friends or know an organization that would like to view any of these films, please contact Carol Baum via email or phone 315-472-5478.

NOON Facebook page


Witness to Injustice: Unraveling US and Indigenous History, July 18, 6-9 PM, Skä•noñh - Great Law of Peace Center, 6680 Onondaga Lake Parkway, Liverpool, New York 13088

Hodinohso:ni’ Juried Art Show Preview, July 26, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Indigenous Music & Arts Festival (formerly the Native American Dance & Music Festival), July 28-29, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Cultural Center Opening Celebration, the one-year anniversary, August 4TH, Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center, (Seneca-Iroquois National Museum), 82 W Hetzel St, Salamanca, NY 14779

Educators' Day, August 9, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Christian Domination and the Failure of 'Truth and Reconciliation', Saturday, August17 & Sunday, August 18. A conference in Onondaga Territory at Syracuse University and Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center.

Storytelling Under the Full Moon & Stars, August 16, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

"A Walk Through the Creator's Garden", August 17, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Scary Stories, October 25, Friday, 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Spooktacular Family Fun Day, October 26, 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Holiday Fine Art's Market and Art Show, November 30, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY

Ohiyo' Social Pow Wow. A 3 day long Winter Social Powwow with dance competitions for all ages, December, Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor, NY.

You can access past NOON E-Newsletters.