November 2014 - Giving Thanks


For the traditional Haudenosaunee, Thanksgiving is not a yearly event. Each gathering opens and closes with the Thanksgiving Address (Words Before All Else). It may also be a sunrise greeting. Their perspective is one of being a part of a natural world that contains all the elements we need to sustain us in our life. Reciting the Thanksgiving Address acknowledges and shows appreciation for that connection. It is a responsibility that respects and teaches mutual inter-connectedness as members of the Web of Life. It fosters harmony with nature teaching appreciation, understanding, respect, protection and conservation for all the parts of nature to which we owe our existence.

The responsibility to give thanks began at creation. The Peacemaker later reminded them to continue this oral tradition that connects them spiritually with those natural forces that continue to do their duties as a way of being in harmony with the natural world. This tradition continues to this day.

Although it has a set format, each speaker is different and free to speak of each element in his own personal way and for as long as he is personally moved to do so. An abbreviated example follows:

The People Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.

The Waters We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-- waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit Water. Now our minds are one.

It continues by addressing Fish, Plants, Food Plants, Medicine Herbs, Animals, Trees, Birds, Four Winds, Thunderers, Sun, Grandmother Moon, Stars, Enlightened Teachers and Creator concluding with an recognition of anything that may have been inadvertently left out.

Additional information can be found at

You can also read a more extensive presentation in Tom Porter's book, And Grandmother Said . . . Though still brief, Tom gives a sense of how each speaker might speak more fully on each element.

For a conversation about the Thanksgiving Address between Frieda Jacques, Turtle Clan and Kateri - Riley Thornton, Snipe Clan

For many of us this way of viewing the natural world is undoubtedly a shift from the way we see our relationship with the natural elements. Perhaps learning about the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address will give us pause as we approach our national day of Thanksgiving to consider and perhaps incorporate some of this perspective in to our own way of thinking, our lives and how we relate to nature.



    Do make the point that indigenous people are alive and well today. Do stress the fact that many indigenous people are able to combine contemporary life-styles with traditional values, traditions and spirituality. Don’t use past tense unless discussing historical events.

Kay Olan, Mohawk/Wolf Clan



By one vote the Onondaga County Legislature approved on Monday, November 3rd a resolution to bond the funds needed to build the Amphitheater on the shores on Onondaga Lake, sacred to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Thank you to everyone who followed this issue, made calls, wrote letters and emails and signed our petition. It was much appreciated. The social justice/environmental coalition that united around this issue will be stepping back and assessing whether there are still avenues to pursue in our effort to block the amphitheater.



Haudenosaunee 4th Grade Curriculum: The New York State Education Department (NYSED) worked with the Onondaga Nation School last summer to improve accuracy in teaching about the Haudenosaunee.
The teachers at the school emphasized the importance of the work of the Peace Maker in creating a long lasting Peace between the 5 warring nations. This Great Peace was not only a format for peace for the Haudenosaunee, but it created a method to create treaties (such as the Two Row Wampum belt), and was a blueprint for democratic governance in the United States.” October, 2014, Onondaga Newsletter
NYS 4th graders can hear Onondaga Nation School 4th graders in videos.
Ms. Jacques and Riley discussing the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address
Mr. Powless and Jonaca talking about What is Wampum?
Mrs. Powless and Haeñhyanoñhna’ discussing Daily Life at Onondaga
Ms. Powless and Carson talking about Recording History through Oral Tradition
Ms. Waterman and Sydney talking about the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois?



Tsadeyohdi Denise Waterman, Oneida Nation -Turtle Clan, recently received the 2014 National Indian Education Association (NIEA) Community Service Award for her work as Executive Director of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse program. Denise has been a teacher at the Onondaga Nation School for more than 30 years.

Alfie Jacques, Onondaga – Turtle Clan is a famous traditional wooden stick maker, player and former coach. He was recently Inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Alfie conducts demonstrations and lectures at many events especially at schools and colleges to promote interest in Lacrosse and traditional wooden stick making.

Firekeepers at Onondaga Nation is under major renovations. The former diner located just off exit 16 has been a home for many diners since 1983. With the retirement of longtime owner Andy Cook, the Onondaga Nation has taken over daily operations. Firekeepers is currently closed but will reopen this winter.


November 8, Saturday, 2–4pm, Haudenosaunee Women and Women's Rights, Sally Roesch Wagner,
Farmington Friends Meetinghouse 187 County Rd. 8 Farmington, NY 14425. All are welcome! Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner, nationally acclaimed historian, activist, and performer, shares her research on the Haudenosaunee influence on the 19th century U.S. dominant culture women’s rights movement. Dr. Wagner is Founding Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in Fayetteville, N.Y. Iroquois White Corn cookies will be served and Iroquois White Corn products will be available for purchase. Co-sponsored by the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse and Ganondagan Historic Site with support from the New York Humanities Council.


November 8, Saturday, 7 pm, Karonhyawake Jeff Doreen at Syracuse University!, Beatles Music in Mohawk!, Jabberwocky Cafe, Syracuse University. Karonhyawake Jeff Doreen is a singer-songwriter from Tyendinaga, currently living in Hamilton, ON. He sings Beatles’ songs that he translates into Kanyen’kéha, the Mohawk language. He is a speaker and teacher of Kanyen’kéha in the Hamilton School Board. Last year he taught at Six Nations of the Grand River at the adult immersion program.
Jeff on Youtube:    Jeff on Twitter:    Jeff on Facebook:


November 11, Tuesday, Canandaigua Treaty Day, 10:30AM Craft Show begins at Canandaigua Primary School (96 W. Gibson St., Canandaigua, NY). 1:30 PM Walk from School to Ontario County Courthouse for Commemoration Ceremony. 6:00 pm Keynote Speaker: Rick Hill (Tuscarora), artist, writer, and curator.

November 17, Monday, 12-1:30 PM, Reel Monday: Up Heartbreak Hill, Rochester Institute of Technology, Mosaic Center (Sau). Thomas and Tamara are track stars at their rural New Mexico high school. Like many teenagers, they are torn between the lure of brighter futures elsewhere and the ties that bind them to home. For these teens, however, home is an impoverished town on the Navajo reservation, and leaving means separating from family, tradition and the land that has been theirs for generations. Lunch will be provided. RSVP is required for this event, please email


November 19, Wednesday, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Native American Heritage Month Celebration, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Zebro Conference Room, 685 Virginia Street, Buffalo, NY. Tom Porter (Sakokwenionkwas-“The One Who Wins”), Michael Martin (Onondaga, Six Nations) Executive Director, Native American Community Services, Inc., Dr. Richard Hershberger, Chief Academic Officer, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Senecas Strong, Allegany Singers/Dancers, Vendors (Native American Artists Guild) Dinner: Venison, turkey, squash, corn soup, fry bread, and strawberry drink (Native Grandparents Club)


November 21, Friday, Native American Alumni Hockey Night, RIT Native American alumni and current FSP students! Join the Future Stewards Program and RIT Alumni Association for a night of hockey fun! The evening will begin with a social hour at RIT Sports Zone before heading to the new Gene Polisseni Center to cheer on the RIT Tigers as they take on the Sacred Heart University Pioneers!


November 28, Thursday, 10 am on Thanksgiving morning, Thanksgiving Circle of Peace, Willow Bay, Onondaga Lake Park. Onondaga people and allies will gathered to express thanks for the goodness of the Earth and to each other for our ongoing friendship, as we work side-by-side in peace and hope for healing, justice and environmental restoration. Everyone welcome, dress for the weather, light refreshments.

December 4th&5th, Indigenous Perspectives on Museums and Cultural Centers A collaborative symposium that will bring together highly respected scholars and community organizers. In a series of panels and events, participants will discuss how to effectively communicate an Indigenous perspective on the history of museums as well as in cultural centers. Day 1 - December 4 at 12 P.M to 5 P.M. At the Hall of Languages, Room 500 (the Killian Room) at Syracuse University. Dinner reception at 6 P.M at the Skä*noñh Great Law of Peace Center (6680 Onondaga Lake Parkway Liverpool, NY.) Day 2 - December 5 at 8 A.M to 12 P.M. at the Hall of Languages, Room 500 (the Killian Room) at Syracuse University.

December 13, Saturday, 10am to 5pm, From the Earth Arts & Crafts Festival, Onondaga Nation School, Free, Donations accepted. Over 45 Craftspeople and Artists from a Six Nations. Artists from the Navajo Nation as well.Paintings and Prints, Soap Stone carvings, lacrosse sticks, beaded jewelry, gemstone jewelry, weaved shawls, native patterned material, dream catchers, bone carvings and silver jewelry are only a few of the art and crafts that will be available. Arrow Booth will be a guest dancer. Traditional foods as well as hearty lunch menus will be available.
All are welcome. There will be extra parking available at the Onondaga Nation Health Center just past the school on Rte 11A. Onondaga Nation School is 2 miles south of Nedrow proper on Rte 11A. Only school on Rte 11A. If coming either from the north or south on 81 get off on exit 16 and go north towards Syracuse on Rt 11. Rte 11A is to the right just before the side Streets begin in Nedrow.


November 12 (new date due to Treaty Day), 7-8:30 pm, NOON Steering Committee Meeting, Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, open meeting. Since new people often have a lot of questions, we recommend talking with Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council Staff (315-472-5478315-472-5478 , or Sue Eiholzer, NOON Volunteer (315-492-2684315-492-2684 , before the meeting. December's meeting will return to the regular 2nd Tuesday schedule of December 9th.


November 19, Wednesday, 6:15-8:15 pm, Shaleshock CNY, Community Room, Onondaga Free Library. Anyone interested in learning more about local anti-hydrofracking efforts in CNY or to connect to these efforts is encouraged to attend.

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