Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New Haudenosaunee welcome gathering at SU aims to shed light on indigenous history, culture

SU spiritual advisor Diane Schenandoah sits on the SU quad near Hendricks Chapel with the Haudenosaunee flag flying behind her.
Scott Willis
SU spiritual advisor Diane Schenandoah sits on the SU quad near Hendricks Chapel with the Haudenosaunee flag flying behind her.

A unique, first-of-its kind gathering on the Syracuse University campus on Monday aims to raise awareness of indigenous history. Students, faculty, staff, and the community are invited to attend the Haudenosaunee Welcome Gathering on the SU quad. Diane Schenandoah is a member of the Oneida Nation and works at SU as an indigenous healer and spiritual advisor. With the Haudenosaunee flag waving gently behind her on campus, she hopes the event helps the university community understand the history that’s been erased or ignored.

"You look across the markers on the historic sites, very rarely do they mention native people. 'Here lived president so and so, governor so and so, the battle of whatever,' But our histories are pretty much hidden and erased. Yes, they have made great strides, and I love to see the flag flying here everyday. It warms my heart. But there still could be so much more."

After all, she says, the land SU occupies, and that New Yorkers call home originally belonged to the Onondagas, Oneidas, and other native peoples.

"I think it's important that they recognize that they are walking on indigenous territories. The truth is that the United States was either acquired by treaty or stolen. There is no other explanation for the land that we're walking on. In this area, the heart of the Haudenosaunee people, of the Confederacy. But also this is the birthplace of peace through democracy."

Schenandoah says part of her role at the university is to also teach appreciation and thanks for all things.

"We go through life, we expect the water to turn on nice and clear. We take it for granted. We have these beautiful trees...our grandfathers there to help us. Do we pause just to say thank you? That's why we have the full moon ceremony to say thank you to grandmother moon. She controls the cycles of the oceans, the planting seasons,"

Monday's gathering will include speakers and dancers, as well as hot scones and a traditional strawberry drink. It takes place from 4 to 5 pm on the SU quad.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at