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Six Nations

November 18, 2016 - 9:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, news, Six Nations.

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Native American dancers were in the Genesee Community College Forum on Thursday afternoon for a dance demonstration and lecture by Wayne Abrams on the history and culture of the Six Nations.

The event is part of a monthlong celebration of Native American Heritage at GCC.

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October 12, 2015 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia peace garden, Six Nations, batavia.

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The flag of the Six Nations should have been part of the flags flying in the International Peace Garden from the beginning, several speakers at a ceremony raising the flag today acknowledged, but for various reasons, with no blame cast, that didn't happen, the speakers said.

Now that it's part of the display, it will always be part of the display, at least as long as she has a say in it, said Paula Savage.

Speakers noted that the Peace Garden commemorates the War of 1812, a very bad era for our region's indigenous people, people who had been on this land long before then, long before "Columbus sailed the ocean blue" in 1492, and perhaps going back as far as ancient mammals like the mastodons. The people of the Six Nations have suffered many hardships, but remain proud.

"We are strong and we're still here, which is why we wanted a flag in Batavia," said Melissa Smith, president of the Tonawanda Historical Society.

Al White spoke of the need to protect the land and called on the young Native Americans in the audience to set aside their video games and the trappings of commercialized America and embrace their people's relationship with the Creator.

"All of our land used to look like this little garden here," White said. "It was our land and we took care of it because our Creator told us it was our duty to take care of it. It is our sacred duty. I'm grateful for this flag over here, but my flag is all around me because my flag is the land of the Creator."

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Jeanne Taradena

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Al White

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Kathrine Sike and Al Parker raise the flag.

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The Seneca Singers

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Frank Panepento plays the melody for "Amazing Grace." (The song sung by the Seneca Singers was the same melody with words in the Seneca language.)

June 11, 2013 - 8:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Native Americans, Tonawanda Creek, Six Nations, Iroquois.

Rick Levins says the Tonawanda Creek is a spiritual place. He's been drawn to it most of his life, he said. For more than 30 years, he's lived on its bank in a home on Walnut Street.

This spring, he started paddling it every day, finding a few moments of peace, but also preparing for a historic canoe trip next month from Albany to New York City down the Hudson River.

The trip is known as the Two Row Wampum Renewal Epic Canoe Trip and is being organized by a group of Native Americans in the Syracuse area to commemorate the first treaty between Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) and Dutch traders in 1613.

"Basically, the treaty said, 'we're in our canoes, you're in your ships, we're going down the same river together, but we won't bother you, you don't bother us,'" Levins said. "That didn't always work quite so well, but the Iroquois and Haudenosaunee have honored that treaty. This is a 400-year renewal. It's the basically indigenous person saying we're losing the path here and we need to get back to some of these old ways."

Levins is half Native -- his mother was from the Six Nations in Canada -- and his cousin from Six Nations introduced him to the trip.

The journey starts July 27 and ends Aug. 9 on the United Nations Indigenous People's Day. 

Along the way, there will be seminars and lectures. The trip is intended to promote peace, friendship and environmental sustainability.

Levins has been paddling on the Tonawanda every day since the start of spring preparing for the trip. Every day, he says, he has the creek to himself. He sees geese, ducks, herons, beavers and deer and listens to the birds tweet and twitter.

"I've even seen deer swimming in the creek," Levins said. "I was going up the creek, coming around the bend, and I saw something in the water. At first, I thought it was a beaver. There's a lot of beaver in here. Well, the beaver started to get up out of the water and it turned into a deer. A nice young buck with velvet."

Because of the historic meaning of the Tonawanda to both Natives and white settlers, Levins said he's always felt a special connection to the waterway that was once an important transportation link.

"The creek holds a lot of meaning to me," Levins said. "There's so much history here."

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