July 2017 - Onondaga Nation and the LaFayette School District

Onondaga Nation and the LaFayette School District



With the retirement of the principal at the Onondaga Nation School, the LaFayette School District Board appointed a new replacement. The LaFayette School district is contracted with and receives funds from New York State to provides education for Onondaga Nation students. Onondaga Nation School is located on Nation territory teaching children through 8th grade. Older students attend LaFayette High School.

The Onondaga Nation expressed their preference for the appointment of an Onondaga teacher at the school with 20 years of classroom experience and specific training for required for the position. She had been among the finalists interviewed for the position. However, someone else was selected. While the man selected was certainly qualified for the position, his position as a colonel in the Army Reserve raised discomfort for some in the Onondaga community due to their generational trauma related to the residential school era.

Parents of students at the Onondaga Nation School joined together and removed their children several days before the end of the June school year to protest the LaFayette School Board's decision. This is a situation that has been developing for some time as their voices regarding their children's education were ignored in various ways. As stated in Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, "Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning." Is is not the first time they have taken on this struggle nor unfortunately will it be the last.

Chiefs and Clanmothers met in the Longhouse with Clarissa Jacobs-Roraback, Coordinator of Native American Education for New York State, and her boss, Christina Coughlin, Coordinator of Education Management Services. They have not yet met with the Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, yet but hope to do so soon.

Because of the unique relationship between the sovereign Onondaga Nation, the school district and New York State, we do not know or understand the legalities, treaties and agreements that have contributed to the development of their relationship. The cultures of indigenous peoples are often misunderstood and/or ignored by their American neighbors. History, treaty rights, cultural customs and legalities play a role in how these agreements which have evolved over the years. Unfortunately, those treaties and agreements are too often ignored. The Lafayette School district appears to unnecessarily claim absolute authority over the school.

This lack of understanding of and sensitivity to indigenous values and concerns is not necessarily unique to CNY. It does challenge all of us to try to develop understanding of our indigenous neighbors' challenges in as far as we are able since we come from a different culture. We need to acknowledge that it can be a struggle for us and keep trying with an open mind.

NOON tries to advocate for just such respect and understanding. Therefore, members of the NOON Steering Committee wrote the Op-Ed below published in the local paper.

We write in support of the action of Onondaga Nation parents and leaders to take their children out of school as an urgent call for recognition of their sovereign rights and the cultural needs of their youth. We call on the LaFayette School District to end its intransigence and cooperate with the Onondaga community to identify appropriate new leadership for the Onondaga Nation School.

The Onondaga Nation School (grades K-8) is one of three schools in New York state located on sovereign Indigenous territory. The schools are provided by the state via contract with local districts, an arrangement with the Onondaga inherent in treaty obligations. It is the only school on the Onondaga Nation territory. The school sits on sovereign Onondaga Nation land. Unlike any other school in Central New York, treaties play a fundamental role in this educational relationship. Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was endorsed by the United States in 2011, states, "Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning."

Insightful and informative articles appeared several times in the Syracuse paper as well as in New York Times, Indian Country Today and the Albany


New York Times

Indian Country Today




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.




Convention Days, July 14, 15, & 16, in Seneca Falls, NY commemorates the First U.S. Women's Rights Convention held in 1848.
Indigenous Women's Day, Saturday July 15
10:00 am: Proclamation of Indigenous Women's Day including the Council of Chiefs and Clan Mothers from the Iroquois Confederacy.
10:00 am - 5:00 pm: Visit with Veronica "Ronnie" Reitter (Seneca, Wolf Clan) and Tonia Galban(Akwesasne Mohawk, Bear Clan)from Ganondagan State Historic Site for cornhusk work demonstrations and basket-weaving
12:30 am - 1:30 pm: Indigenous Music: The Shenandoah Trio celebrate the day with original music
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm: Contributions of the Iroquois: Women's Circle
Full schedule

Ironworking Skills Demo Day, Saturday, July 15th from 1 – 4pm, Iroquois Indian Museum, Howes Cave, NY. Informal talk and participatory activities about the experiences of working in the high steel industry by 4th generation Ironworker Barry Printup, Cayuga from Tuscarora.

Native American Dance & Music Festival, July 22-23, Ganondagan State Historical Site, Victor, NY. Free admission for (active) Friends of Ganondagan members! Featuring the Akwesasne Women Singers and Theresa Bear Fox. New this year, a juried Haudenosaunee art show!

Scholarship of Dr. Barbara Alice Mann, Saturday, July 29, 10 AM-3 PM., Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community, 4934 State Highway 5, Fonda, NY.

Join the Kanatsiohareke Community in welcoming Seneca scholar Dr. will talk about two of her most recent books: Iroquoian Women: The Gontawisas (2000) and Spirits of Blood, Spirits of Breath: The Twinned Cosmos of Indigenous America (2016). $25 admission includes coffee, tea, morning snacks, a home cooked lunch, stimulating discussion, and a chance to have books signed by Dr. Mann (bring your own or purchase here while supplies last!). Please RSVP by July 25 at: 518-673-4197 or: Kanatsiohareke@gmail.com

Seneca Bark Longhouse At Ganondagan State Historical Site Is Open now through October 31. You can further your understanding of the Seneca and Haudenosaunee - and their message of peace - from a comprehensive cultural, historical, and environmentalperspective. Tour the full-size replica of the 17th-century Seneca Bark Longhouse, walk miles of self-guided trails, climb the mesa where a huge palisaded granary stored thousands of bushels of corn and then visit the Seneca Art & Culture Center.

Walking the Steel: From Girder to Ground Zero Exhibit, April 1 - November 30, 2017, Iroquois Indian Museum, Howes Cave, NY. Artwork, artifacts, photographs, and audio recollections interprets the long-standing cultural and occupational tradition of iron working and its prominent role in Iroquois communities. Also explores the response to 9-11 by these individuals who had no national obligation to aid in the recovery but selflessly did (in some cases at immense personal cost), and concludes with the Haudenosaunee role in raising the 758-ton spire for the Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center in May 2013.




NOON Steering Committee Open Meeting, Tuesday, July 13, 7-8:30 pm, Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 East Genesee St, Syracuse, NY. Since new people often have a lot of questions, we recommend talking with Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council Staff (3154725478, carol@peacecouncil.net) or Sue Eiholzer, NOON Volunteer (3154922684, rsue@twcny.rr.com) before the meeting. August meeting date will be Tuesday, 8/8.


A Supreme Court’s decision on June 19 decided that trademarks disparaging racial slurs (like r-word) are permissible dealing a blow in the fight to change the Washington NFL team name.

Coming of Age in Akwesasne: The Beauty Is Under the Husk, a rigorous, four-year coming-of-age process bringing Mohawk Akwesasne youth to adulthood.


Governor Bill Walker signed legislation permanently recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day in Alaska.


WITNESS TO INJUSTICE: UNRAVELING HISTORIC NATIVE & U.S. RELATIONS This inter-active group exercise is a 1 ½ 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, please contact Sue Eiholzer at 315-492-2684 or rsue@twcny.rr.com.

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 at 315-472-5478 or carol@peacecouncil.net

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 at 3154725478 or carol@peacecouncil.net



The Karihwi:io with Arenho:ktha Thomas Deer, August 12, Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community, 4934 State Highway 5, Fonda, NY. Tom will discuss sections that demonstrate the relevance of the message today and implications for a longhouse world-view and spirituallity, as well as, longhouse ceremonies that trace their roots to the Karihwi:io. Discussion in Mohawk and Cayuga with English translation. $25 admission includes coffee, tea, morning snacks, a home cooked lunch, stimulating discussion and great company.

Haudenosaunee Canoe Journeys: Paddling for the Past, Present and Future with Hickory Edwards, August 13. Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community, 4934 State Highway 5, Fonda, NY. The landing at Kanatsiohareke will come after 13 days of paddling from the Confederacy's Western Door among the Seneca at Canandaigua to the Eastern Door in the Mohawk Valley. Landing accompanied by ceremony, traditional social with song, dance and water stories from each Nation participating in the paddle.

Haudenosaunee Women's Traditional Roles with Wendy Hill, August 19, Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community, 4934 State Highway 5, Fonda, NY. Wendy will speak on roles and responsibilities including ceremonies, pregnancy, birthing and death in relations with others and self, as well as, other aspects of daily life.

You can access past NOON E-Newsletters.