Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Games & Seneca Snow Shoe Run

While I dearly love the quiet stillness that the winter season brings, we all have to get out of the house, move around, and enjoy the crisp winter air. A perfect way to get some winter fun is to visit our Native American Winter Games and Sports event on February 6, 2010, 10am - 4pm.

The event is FREE to the public and features:
  • Dog Sledding
  • Story Telling
  • Food
  • Snowshoeing
  • Snow Snake
  • "Seneca Winter Camp" Demonstrations
See all the Native American Winter Games and Sports event details at our Winter Games web page.

New this year to the Winter Games event, we are adding a Seneca Snow Shoe Run Competition. This three part competition includes a snow shoe run on a course laid out at Ganondagan, an archery shoot, and the snow snake throw. The competition has two levels: The Pro Snow Shoe Run and the Fun Snow Shoe Run.

Please see our Seneca Snow Shoe Run web page for more details and registration information.

I hope to see you there!!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Giving Thanks for 2009 and All Who Contributed

For Ganondagan, 2009 has been a very busy year! We wanted to share news of some of our accomplishments and the many things for which we’re thankful:

  • Green Initiatives – This year, we strengthened the focus on environmental practices at our Native American Dance & Music Festival, implementing the use of solar power for the stage area and a waste station to sort trash for recycling and composting.
  • Expanded Programming – Throughout the summer, we offered our new “Savor the Summer” series, which was free to Members. This series was so popular that we’ll be offering many of the favorites along with new events next summer. We also offered a bus tour to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, and hosted a very successful Native American Dance & Music Festival, a sumptuous Native Foods Feast and a Living History event that were offered to members at discount.
  • Garden and Trail Projects – Next year, when you visit Ganondagan’s gardens, new signage will identify the various plants. Thanks to Brendan Marozas, Tay House Scout Troupe 19 and Ganondagan’s Steve Richman, a new walkway was added to The Earth is Our Mother Trail.
  • Website revamp – We’ve reinvigorated our website. You can now become a member or renew your membership online, sign up to receive our e-newsletter, donate to Ganondagan and discover many new resources such as a more comprehensive online calendar, online videos, a page on wampum belts, a recipes page and more.
  • News Sharing – This year, we stepped into the world of Social Media in a big way. In addition to our Blog (, we launched a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a monthly e-newsletter. If you would like to receive this newsletter, simply email with the subject line “Add me to e-newsletter list.”
  • Partnering – This year, we have successfully partnered with a number of organizations and would like to thank Wegmans, Nazareth College, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John Fisher College and many of the heritage attractions in Ontario County for their friendship, collaboration and support.
  • New Products – The Friends of Ganondagan created new books and booklets, as well as Children’s Discovery Kits that were for sale in our gift shop. Next year, we’ll add a number of new children’s books written by Ganondagan’s Executive Director, Jeanette Miller, and books written through our partnership with Nazareth College. Mark your calendar now to attend Inside/Out Haudenosaunee at Nazareth College Arts Center on February 14 from 2 PM-4PM for the opening of an Iroquois Art Exhibition curated by Peter Jemison and a book signing of all our new releases!
Finally, without our loyal and dedicated Board Members, Volunteers and Staff, we could not have accomplished all that we have done this year, so CHEERS TO YOU!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Website updates & more!

If you haven't visited our website recently, you've missed a lot of changes. We've:

Please come and pay us a virtual visit!


ps....if you are curious about the corn in the picture above, it is a picture of the Heirloom Native variety of corn I grew in my vegetable garden this year called "White Eagle." It is a Cherokee variety of corn that was carried by the Cherokee people over the Trail of Tears. It is a historic and beautiful corn with a great variety of color as visible above. If you are interested in trying some yourself, this is the place I purchased the seed from. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Canandaguia Treaty Commemoration Day

The anniversary of the 1794 Canandaigua Treaty will be commemorated tomorrow. Be sure to see our event page for all the event details and directions:

Due to the death of a community Elder, Dr. Elm will be speaking at 6:30 p.m. after the pot-luck dinner but out of respect, the Iroquois social & dance has been canceled. Thank you.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Canandaigua Fire Must Be Preserved

We've just added a piece written by Doug George-Kanentiio on the Canandaigua Treaty titled The Canandaigua Fire Must Be Preserved. It is an interesting read - be sure to check it out!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Canandaigua Treaty

The Canandaigua Treaty is a treaty between the United States of America and the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy - Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora. This treaty was signed on November 11, 1794 and each year this treaty is celebrated on the anniversary of the signing, November 11, in Canandaigua, New York.

In order to help teach about the treaty and celebrate this event we have created a number of informational pages on our website about the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794, wampum belts, and more.

This year's Canandaigua Treaty Celebration features:

  • A parade on Main Street
  • A ceremony and keynote speakers at Council Rock
  • A Native craftspeople and vendors
  • A pot-luck dinner and social

All events are free and open to the public. We welcome you to come and join us in celebrating this wonderful historic event!

See our Canandaigua Treaty Celebration Event webpage for full event details and locations.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Color at Ganondagan

The trees are putting on an impressive show this fall and this week is probably our peak color at the Ganondagan State Historic Site.

The maples, oaks, sassafras, staghorn sumacs, and more are in full color. Every leaf color is visible somewhere, in the tree canopy or underfoot.

While a walk on any of the three trails on site would be beautiful this time of year, I would suggest the Fort Hill Trail. It not only offers views of beautiful foliage and serene walks through wooded trails, it also offers a spectacular view of the neighboring vicinity from the top of the Fort Hill mesa. The sight of the patchwork of trees with Autumn colors and green pastures is breath-taking and is more than worth the short hike. And most certainly, bring your camera for the "Kodak moments" you are sure to have.

Why not make a fun Fall day of it? Pack a picnic lunch - there are tables and benches at the top of Fort Hill. Do some trail walking, "leaf peeping," and have a picnic lunch. And afterwards why not stop down to our neighbor The Apple Farm for apples and cider. It's a fun place to take the kids or just yourself to pick some apples at their U-pick orchard. They've had a very good harvest this year and the trees are still very full of apples.

All too soon Fall will pass and snow will fly. Take some time soon to enjoy the beauty and the fun that this season has to offer you.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Herb Walk at Ganondagan

Fall is a beautiful time for trail walking. The late summer bloomers like goldenrod, asters, various eupatoriums (white snakeroot, joe pye weed, boneset, etc.), touch-me-nots, and others add many colors. Berries and other fruit growing all season on trees and shrubs have got their mature colors and sizes. And soon all the trees will be wearing their fancy fall shawls and dresses of autumn colors.

Fall is also a good time to view and learn about the wild medicinal plants growing all about us. On October 10th there will be a guided herb walk at Ganondagan. The walk will be lead by Dr. Les Moore N.D., M.S.O.M., L.Ac. who is the Director of Integrative Medicine at the Clifton Springs Hospital and Clinic. Dr. Moore will identify medicinal plants at the site and he will speak to the uses of these plants in Eastern and Western herbal traditions.

The walk will include trail walking so be sure to wear appropriate footwear and make sure to bring a bottle of water.

See our event calendar or contact Classical Formulas at 315-462-0190 for time, registration details and more information.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

They're Nature's Fireworks...

"They're Nature's fireworks!" said my youngest about the touch-me-not-plants. And so they are.

Late summer is a wonderful time for trail-walking in general. You get to see the late summer plants in bloom, various bushes with colorful berries, the hints of fall color, and one of our favorites, touch-me-not plants with ripe seed pods. Along a boardwalk section of the Earth is Our Mother Trail at the Ganondagan State Historic Site, there is a happy and vigorous colony of spotted touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis). Touch-me-not is also called "jewelweed." This is a native wildflower and member of the impatiens family that has a curious method of seed dispersal - the seed pods explode sending seeds flying every which way.

The ripe seed capsules are rather reminiscent of tiny pea-pods, although they have 5 parts whereas the pea pods have two. (See the picture to the left.) The ripe seed capsules fly apart when disturbed sending the seeds far and wide. You just gotta love the inventive ways Mother Nature found for species to perpetuate themselves!

Once split, the parts of the seed capsule curl up into curious little shapes. The seeds are oblong, and pointed. If you can manage to get the capsule to "pop" in your hand, you'll see the seeds and what's left of the pod. (See the picture to the right for a view of the seeds and pod bits.)

We spent no less than 20 minutes at this stand of touch-me-not on the way out of our hike and 20 minutes on the way back. Giggles abounded. Learning too. The kids learned that these plants have exploding seed pods to spread their seed, hopefully giving the seeds good places to sprout next year. They learned that these plants are called "Spotted Touch-me-not" but they also are called "jewelweed." If you see how the leaves resist water - dew beads up on the leaves and leaves under water look like silver, you'll understand why they are called "jewelweed." But the kids also learned that this plant's sap is a common herbal remedy for poison ivy and wise old Mother Nature grows this beauty in the same places as poison ivy. She gives you the poison but the cure is right there too.

In these days where too often children sit by themselves at computers and hand-held electronics on beautiful days, I urge you to take a few minutes and share the beauty and wonder of Nature with the children in your life. My own greatest and most enjoyed memories of childhood are simple pleasures - things that cost nothing or very little at all. Picnics. Climbing trees. Building sandcastles. Gardening with my parents. Making hollyhock flower dolls and clover flower necklaces which my mom showed me how to make. Throwing burdock at each other with my sisters and cousins which was all "fun and games" until someone got it in the hair! But anyways....make some memories. You'll never regret the time spent making these kind of memories but you will regret it if you let the opportunity pass you by.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Have you got your tickets for the Native Food Feast yet?

In order to give everyone a chance to get tickets for this spectacular event, we have extended the deadline for registration until Monday, September 14, 2009.

But hurry! You don't want to miss out!

Please see the Native Food Feast page for all the details. By the way, if you've already been to our Feast webpage, be sure to visit again. We have just included the sumptuous menu for this feast.

Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ganondagan August News

The new webpage has been created for the A Seneca Encounter with LaSalle Event that is September 26 & 27. Please check it out for full details on the event.

A new slideshow, the first of the Native American Dance & Music Festival slideshows, has been put up. It features pictures of Cercle Celtique's performance and a personal letter from Jeanette Miller, Executive Director of the Friends of Ganondagan, about this exciting traditional music and dance group. Go to our main Gallery page to find the slideshow.

Look for another slideshow to be up within the next week of the "Native Grasses" Hike that took place on August 16th. It was a wonderful hike and a learning experience for all! The picture to the left is from the hike and is a picture of the native grass big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii).

Each year we hold an event for teachers and other educator's which we call "Educators' Day." The themed event features a full day of activities and talks designed to share with educators information on that year's theme. This year's the event will be titled "Educators' Day 2009: A Living History Event - LaSalle Visits Ganondagan" and will be held Friday September 25, 2009 9am - 4pm. For more details as well as the registration form, please see our events calendar or the email newsletter for the event.

We are still taking reservations for our Rockwell Museum Tour & Day Trip on August 29, 2009 8:30am - 5:30pm. This is a unique opportunity - don't miss it! See the Rockwell Tour page for more details.

Finally, on August 22, 2009 starting at 7pm we will be holding a "Long Ball and Storytelling" Event that will be a wonderful family event. It is an event that is FREE for Friends of Ganondagan Members - show current membership card as proof of membership. General public admission fee $3 adults, $2 children. The event will feature a Long ball game that event goers are welcome to take part in, storytelling, and more. See our event calendar page for more details.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Native American Dance & Music Festival - This Weekend!

Be sure to come out and visit our 18th annual Native American Dance and Music Festival this weekend!

Our performers this year include:
Arvel Bird
World music violinist Arvel Bird is the ultimate fusion artist, integrating his Native American and Scottish heritage with a variety of musical styles to deliver an accomplished sound that spans nearly every genre, including classical, folk, Celtic, country, fusion jazz and bluegrass.

Chef David Wolfman
Chef David Wolfman is a culinary arts professor at George Brown College in Toronto and is Host, Writer, and Executive Producer of the nationally televised Cooking with the Wolfman program on The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). David discovered his love for cooking at a young age and has devoted himself to the preservation and promotion of traditional Aboriginal foods and cooking methods.

Cercle Celtique
The award-winning 'Cercle Celtique,' was founded in Rennes, France in 1932 to preserve and promote traditional Breton dance and music. The dancers and musicians wear traditional Breton attire. Round dancing, square dancing, line dancing and the gavotte are all part of their repertoire and are traditionally performed during a Fest Nzo event. The music is performed with authentic instruments, such as the biniou and bombarde. This Celtic ethnic group located in northwest France, trace their heritage to first Celtic indigenous peoples from southwestern Great Britain.

Iroquois Social Dancing
With Ganondagan's Spirit Dancers and Buffalo Creek Dancers.

We also feature master traditional artist demonstrations including:

William (Bill) Loran - Traditional Gustoweh
Bill Loran will demonstrate making the traditional Iroquois men's headdress, the Gustoweh.

Marilyn Isaacs - Fingerweaving
Marilyn Isaacs will demonstrate making sashes in a traditional fingerweaving style, which is a weaving style that does not use complicated loom equipment.

Tonia Loran - Moccasin Making
Tonia Loran is an accomplished leatherworker and beadworker with pieces shown in national art shows as well as adorning the Native clothing of her friends and family. She will demonstrate moccasin making.

Rosemary Rickard-Hill - Raised Beadwork
Growing up in a family of beadworkers, Rosemary Rickard-Hill seemed to be destined to become internationally recognized her skills as a fine beadworker. She will demonstrate raised beadwork.

Please see our website for more details.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Native American Dance & Music Festival 7/25 - 7/26

This summer is flying by and the Native American Dance & Music Festival is just around the corner! It is Saturday and Sunday July 25th & 26th 10am - 6pm.

One of the most popular questions to show up in the Friends of Ganondagan email inbox this time of the year regards our scheduling of events at the festival. We have just put both our full festival program and schedule on-line and made them down-loadable for you. Just visit our Festival event page to download either document.

For those looking for "staycations" or low-cost, local summer fun in Western NY State and the Finger Lakes Region or for our out-of-the-area visitors, be sure to check out our festival. It is a full-day of events and programming for very low admission prices. We even have a very low cost family admission rate - $20 for 2 adults and up to 6 children. Where else can you and your family get so much entertainment for so little? (See our Festival event page for full list of admission prices.) Our festival features free children's activities, storytellers, guided trail walks, tours through the bark longhouse, dancing, musicians, artist demonstrations, a celebrity chef demonstration, a family drum jam, and more all for your low admission price.

By the way, this is a wonderful time for all of you who have driven by the site and wondered "just what is Ganondagan?" to explore all the site has to offer. We know there are many of you because this is something we hear from visitors quite often.

Please come. We know you will enjoy yourself at our festival!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Dance & Music Festival & More!

The Native American Dance & Music Festival is just around the corner! This year it is 10am - 6pm on July 25 & 26th and we have a webpage for the event. Be sure to keep your eyes on that page for updates and detailed information about the artists and performers that will be attending this year's festival. The final changes are being made to the schedule - be sure to look for that soon to be on the event page too!

If you haven't stopped by the Friends of Ganondagan Gift Shop yet this year, be sure to do so. (See the Gift Shop page for hours.) This year the Gift Shop has tried to focus on items produced by the Friends of Ganondagan and other unique locally produced items as well as a re-focus on items of or about the Six Nations (Iroquois). There are things in the Gift Shop that you will find no place else and the really exciting part is that there are more items being produced and will be available throughout the 2009 season.

The Friends of Ganondagan website continues to grow and change. New content and pages are being regularly added throughout the site. During June, two slideshows were added to the Gallery pages. Be sure to check them out!

Finally, if you haven't been to the site in a while, be sure to come out. All the plants have breathed a sigh of relief with the coming of the recent rain. The Three Sisters Garden, a demonstration vegetable garden of traditional Native varieties, is doing well. The corn and beans are up and the squashes are blooming. The Creator's Garden is green and growing and will soon have new labels for all the medicine plants in it. Be sure to look for those. And the abundance offered by the wild plants is visible all about the site - the wild strawberries have just finished fruiting, the juneberries (see the picture to the right) are large and ripe, and soon to be followed by the black raspberries. Come visit us, walk the trails, and enjoy the natural beauty!


Monday, June 15, 2009

1794 brought to life

For the past year I have been working on a unique project with historic artist Robert Grffing. He approached me over a year ago concerning the project. He wanted to know if I could help him with a large scale representation of the 1794 Treaty. I encouraged him and was excited about helping bring the event to life. Foremost in my mind was to include the descendants of the people who were in attandance 314 years ago be a big part of the project.

The 1794 Canandaigua Treaty is the lasting agreement between the young United States and the ancient Haudenosaunee which continues to be commemorated each November 11th in the city of Canandaigua.

To this point there has never been an attempt at a faithful recreation of that historic event. It was my responsibility to research the treaty and many of the visual clues which we might use to structure a high quality recreation of what the treaty might have looked like. Tonia and I set up casting calls at Salamanca and Onondaga and solicited participants online as well. In the end, we had just under 30 Haudenosaunee people attend the photo shoot at the Seneca-Iroquois museum this weekend. Here are some glimpses into what will become a very impressive piece in the next two years.
Craig Reuben
"Niaweh" (thanks) to: The Seneca-Iroquois Museum staff, Jare, Robert, Tonia, Ward, James, Kobuck, Crowder, Don, and ALL the participant models.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day Trip to the Rockwell Museum

On August 29th the Friends of Ganondagan will be holding a day trip to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, NY for an exclusive tour of the museum and its special exhibition of Sewing the Seeds: 200 Years of Iroquois Glass Beadwork.

In this tour, we will be joined by Iroquoian Beadwork Specialist, Dolores Elliott, who will share her expertise on the history, creation and importance of beadwork in the Iroquois culture. We are also privileged to be joined by G. Peter Jemison, Ganondagan's Site Manager and renowned Seneca Artist, who will give a guided tour of the Native American Art throughout the museum.

You don't want to miss this unique opportunity so please see our Rockwell Trip web page for full excursion details as well as registration information today!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Savor the Summer Series

If you enjoyed the True Tale or Beavers at Ganondagan or think you would have, be sure to check out the rest of the events in our Savor the Summer Series.

We have full listings in our on-line event calender or our new Savor the Summer Series flyer. You may print and distribute the flyer or display it where you have permission to do so.

If you haven't done so yet, make sure to let us know what you think about our programs this year. We're pretty excited about them and we hope you are too!


Monday, May 18, 2009

The True Tale of the Beavers at Ganondagan

Yesterday was the second event in the Friends of Ganondagan's Savor the Summer Series - "The True Tale of the Beavers at Ganondagan." It was a wonderful day for a hike and Peter Jemison did a spectacular job in sharing the beauty and history of the site as well as the wonderful views of the handiwork of Nature's Premier Engineer - the Beaver.

In case you missed it, we have put a slideshow gallery up at:

This walk was FREE to Friends of Ganondagan members and $3 for adults and $2 for children for the general public. Please check out our events calendar for more of our events and programming.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

We need your help!

From Jeanette Miller, Executive Director of the Friends of Ganondagan:

Hello everyone,
In our "green efforts" we are in need of a few items you might have in your home or at your business for some projects we are working on to sell in the gift shop this summer:

we need your empty 18 oz OATMEAL containers or 24 oz CORNMEAL containers (or something similar)

we need 30# or 40# paper

We need these as soon as possible (deadline May 22) - so if you have any (ask your family and friends, too) - please drop them off at the visitors center or gift shop 9am-5pm Tuesday through Sunday; if you must deliver after those hours - just leave at the Site Manager's back door.

Thank you everyone!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ganondagan's Fort Hill Slide Show

Speaking of wildflowers, be sure to take a look at our newly updated Gallery web page to see the first of many slide shows that has been created for it. This slide show is of many native wildflowers and plants currently visible from Ganondagan's Fort Hill Trails. We hope you enjoy it!

And please remember to NOT pick any wildflowers that you see in your walks. Not only is it prohibited in all New York State Parks, but many woodland plants do not tolerate picking well. It may kill some plants, like trillium. Please bring your camera and take only photos!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Pages & Resources

We've got a number of new resources for our members and friends. First, there is a FaceBook page for Ganondagan. Second, there is a new Twitter page as well. Go check these very cool pages out at:

Ganondagan FaceBook Page

Ganondagan Twitter Page

We've also set up a page for our Annual Native American Dance & Music Festival. The festival will take place this year on Saturday 7/25 and Sunday 7/26. There are many traditional artisans and performers already booked for the festival. Please check out our new page for full details:

Native American Dance & Music Festival

Finally, don't forget that the Ganondagan State Historic Site opens for the season on May 1st! This time of the year is a perfect time to do some trail walking to see the beautiful Spring wildflowers. Spring ephemerals are especially something not to be missed. They are perennial spring blooming plants that have a very short cycle in which they bloom and go back into a dormancy until next season. Trillium, bloodroot, hepatica (seen to the right), and others are special sights that if you hesitate, you will miss! Look for them and others along the site's trails. Enjoy!


Monday, April 13, 2009

We Shall Remain Begins Tonight

Tonight is the first episode of the PBS's American Experience, We Shall Remain. This 5-part television series shows how Native peoples resisted expulsion from their lands and fought the extinction of their culture - from the Wampanoags of New England in the 1600s to the bold new leaders of the 1970s who harnessed the civil rights movement to forge a pan-Indian identity. We Shall Remain represents an unprecedented collaboration between Native and non-Native filmmakers and involves Native advisors and scholars at all levels of the project.

For more on this series, please see the series webpage at

My DVR is set, how about yours?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ohio Country Conference

I was invited to speak at the Bushy Run Battlefield-sponsored conference entitled, "The Ohio Country Conference" which is a scholarly conference that revolves around the Seven Years War in North America. I called my lecture, "A Good Salve for our Wounds- Native American involvement in the taking of Ft Niagara" and it seems to have been well received. I may condense the talk into a smaller article for the newsletter this summer.

A highlight of the lecture series was listening to Fintan O'Toole, author of "White Savage" a well researched book on the life of Sir William Johnson. What made Fintan's talk so interesting was his non-American view of the colonial period. He may have not been entirely in touch with current thinking or Native studies but he certainly was passionate about his subject.

We talked up the site and displayed Ganondagan's "banner" display and was able to pass out brochures to the 120-ish attendees.

I had mixed emotions upon attending because only a few day previous we learned that Pennsylvania was considering closing many historic sites across the state, including the Bushy Run Battlefield who were the sponsors of the conference! The Fort Pitt museum was also on the list as one of endangered sites. It is certainly a trend across the US for states to look at scraping money together from any source neccessary including historic sites. I hope in the future we can preserve our shared history in a responsible way and save these important places where our story is being preserved.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Want to learn how to make Seneca Corn Soup?

Or find out about the Canandaigua Treaty? Then check out the new Friends of Ganondagan videos page:

We have started our new videos page with some links to very good videos that others have created that we know you will find educational and interesting.

Eventually we will be adding our own videos to this page - so be sure to check back for them!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yet another sign of spring is the gift of maple sugar and syrup. This past week Tonia, Steve, and I have been gathering sap from the trees on Ft Hill and boiling it down at the lower maintenance building. Today we boiled down a nice quart of sweet syrup. I intend to pound some white corn into some mush and pour a bit over it this week for my family.

Last week my family tapped our maple tree in the front of our house. My son was surprised and a bit upset that the resulting syrup was only enough for everyone to have a tablespoonful on a scoop of vanilla ice cream! It didn't matter though because he licked his bowl clean and was very satisfied with his share. We look forward to the maple ceremony and the promise of a wonderful summer.

Signs of Spring

The weather over the past few days has been wonderful. It feels like Spring is in the air. After a lovely walk along the Earth is Our Mother Trail today, I think that Spring is in the Earth too. The early Spring plants are starting to put on their show.

First I saw some cheery little coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara). At first glance, many may think they are dandelions but they're not. Look close and you'll see the differences. These little yellow flowers appear early spring, well before their horse-hoof shaped leaves make their appearance. The seed heads appear rather quickly and they too are reminiscent of dandelion seed heads.

Then came every child's favorite - the pussy willow (Salix discolor). Who doesn't remember being a kid (or big person too) and just loving to touch the silky pussy willow catkins. (Catkin is the fancy name for these kinds of flowers). Pussy willows are always special and sentimental sign of spring in my family. My grandfather, who is no longer with us, used to keep an eye out for the first pussy willows of the season. He would always cut a big bunch to bring home. I try to keep up the tradition and share pussy willows I've cut with family and friends. My own pussy willow tree has just exploded with catkins over this past weekend. I guess it's time for some bouquets to be cut!

Further along one of the most unusual late-winter/early-spring flowers greeted me. It is the skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) flower. Skunk cabbage is so named because of the foul odor that is emitted when a leaf is broke or tore. But the flowers...they are very unusual. They do not look like what everyone thinks flowers should look like. They have a mottled purple hood (spathe) around a flower spike (spadix). (If you are familiar with Jack-in-the-Pulpit Arisaema triphyllum, it too has a spathe surrounding a spadix and that will give you a rough idea of how the skunk cabbage flower is structured.) If the looks of the flower wasn't unusual enough, the strangest is yet to come. This flower makes its own heat. According to some sources, it can be 15-35°C above the air temperature. This warmth not only lets the flower melt its way through frozen ground, it attracts early spring insects who bask in the warmth these flowers offer. And I'm sure a little pollination happens along the way too.

Finally, I'll share a picture of the stream the Earth is Our Mother Trail ends at. The stream is running fast and the sound of the rushing water greeted me long before the sight of the stream did. Simply beautiful.

People can keep their 70 degrees all year long. I love the changing of the seasons and the change of winter to spring is one of my favorites!

I hope you have a wonderful late winter and early spring!!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Snowshoeing Helps Native Americans Connect With Ancestry (Rochester D&C, March 1, 2009)

Be sure to check out the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle's article on Snowshoeing with Ganondagan's own Mike Galban. It's a great article - be sure to give it a read!

Snowshoeing Helps Native Americans Connect With Ancestry


Sunday, February 22, 2009

February 22, 2009

This past Friday the staff of Ganondagan spent the day at the Tonawanda reservation. I was there to teach a class on cornhusk twined salt bottles. We were hosted by Jamie Jacobs and Ken Poodry in the firehouse building. We had a former ELDERS gathering attendee there as well as a good group of dedicated craftsmen/women.

The husks we brought came from our earlier work with Norton Rickard (Tuscarora) and his amazing Iroquois White Corn Farm. After braiding a couple dozen long ropes of corn I made sure we kept the remaining great long husks for such projects. It is essential to dry them well and store them away from rodents. The use of corn "by-products" fits so well into the cycle of Haudenosaunee lifeways and our intrest in cultural preservation. This year it seems we are ontrack for such activities.

The skill level required to make a simple twined cornhusk bottle is high. It is not for everyone. Twining is an ancient method of weaving which can be used to make husk moccasins, mats, bottles, bowls, & baskets. This workshop would introduce the concept of twining and hopefully get some Haudenosaunee artists using the techniques and materials.

At the close of the class two students had achieved containers and others were on their way to finishing the project! I was amazed at how quickly some people caught onto the concepts. It is good to see.

As the snows began to fall we decided to leave before it got worse and headed back to Ganondagan. We left behind a huge bag of cornhusks and hopefully the knowledge to work them.

Oneh ki,

Michael Galban

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Si Wong Geh" On-line

We are pleased to be able to offer back issues of the Friends of Ganondagan's quarterly newsletter, Si Wong Geh, to our on-line friends:

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May this message find you well and dreaming of melting snows and spring!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Niawen for the blog

Sekon Kim, Jeanette and Pete,

Thank you for this new way to communicate with the people. Joanne and I are off to Akwesasne for the Midwinter which begins this Saturday. Kahnawake had theirs three weeks ago so I hope our relatives will be with us this weekend. I am grateful for the snow (now over 112 inches here in Oneida) and the cold as we need the while blanket to protect the roots of our plants and the freezing temperatures keep the harmful bugs away. But flooding along this area's many creeks and lakes is likely this spring. I also expect a very good year for maple syrup. Stay warm,


What I saw at the Inauguration

What I saw at the inauguration of President Obama

©by Doug George-Kanentiio

I was present at the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as President of the United States on January 20 in Washington, DC. This was actually the fourth 'swearing in" ceremony I have witnessed with the other three being in 1981, 1993 and 2001 but none of those compared with this one in terms of the numbers of people or to the level of security. The latest one was by far the most crowded with estimates ranging from 1.5 to 2 million people there. I believe the latter is correct since there were over 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial concert a couple of days previous and the inauguration one was much larger. (Note for those who want to give Obama a native name: "Hussein" means "small handsome one" in Arabic)

Despite all predictions of an historic number of people going to Washington the security planners and the public transportation organizers proved to be incompetent. They did not send enough subway trains or allow sufficient street buses into the city which meant long waits in cold temperatures and people pushing hard to find a small space on anything which might take them closer to the event or back to their20hotels after it was over.

There were military units in armored cars, roof top observers with sniper rifles and cops with metal detectors standing fast at various checkpoints, some so far from
the Capitol building where the inauguration was held that it was actually silly to believe anyone there could have been any threat to Obama given the mile or so which separated him from the the people at the Washington and Lincoln monuments. There was no public service announcements of any kind given during the day so a lot of folks wandered around without direction. There would have been a real disaster if an emergency situation had developed since the flimsy fence barricades would not have held anyone back who was determined to get out. Many would have been trampled.

The people there were extraordinarily patient despite the long walks, the empty buses rushing by and the military troops scattered along the streets, as if the city was being occupied by the army which it was. The soldiers were grim faced and on edge, ready to bark out orders to anyone who strayed from the pack. But most people I saw, particularly the black Americans, were very happy and willing to put up with a lot of discomfort to see an event few believed would happen even in the spring of last year.

As a former member of the Board of Trustees for the National Museum of the American Indian I was able to secure access to our facility just southwest of t he Capitol for my wife Joanne Shenandoah, our daughter Leah and the members of her band. We had scouted the area a day before the inauguration and estimated it20would take no more than 45 minutes from our hotel near the National Airport to the National Mall using the subway. While that seemed to be a smart thing to do we could not have known that an elderly woman would fall on the subway tracks at a distant station and the subsequent delay would meant hundreds of thousands of people would be late. The lady was not seriously hurt. One station was closed completely so we had to wait for well over 60 minutes for it to resume service. When that happened each train car was so crowded we could not enter. We finally hired a taxi to drive us into the city only to be ordered by a soldier to go away from the Museum to a side street many bocks away. We had a very long trudge as we snaked our way back to the Mall area where the NMAI staff was outside, waving us in. (Niawen:kowa to Chris Turner and the staff at the Museum for giving us shelter!) I felt bad for the tens of thousands of people who could not enter the Mall and were unable to witness the inaugural ceremonies, all because they were held up for hours at undermanned checkpoints where their VIP tickets did not mean a thing.

We were given passes to the third floor observation area which gave us an excellent view of the Capitol. We watched from our warm room the great mass of people, many of whom were waving flags as they stood patiently beneath clear skies. Obama had to have seen our Museum as it is the one closest to the Capitol. It would have been nice for him to have waved to us or even pumped his fist. Now that would have sent shudders through the ruling elite. It was about 32 degrees outside at noon. We could see the statue of the Native woman atop the Capitol; she represents freedom and is wearing a Seneca Kustoweh. She is facing east as if on guard against intruders. Her stance is contrary to the American custom of always looking to where they are going, the west, rather then where they came from. Maybe they don't want to see the mess they leave behind.

The concert on the Mall held January 18, as well the inauguration itself, did not any Native presence other than small groups at the parade. No Native singer, artist or poet was invited to perform, speak or display their work. No direct mention was made about Natives by any of the prominent politicians or performers. No one said anything about our veterans, our contributions to world history or addressed our concerns. Our musicians were deemed by California Senator Diane Feinstein and her Inauguration Committee as unworthy to take to the stage. This shows either disturbing ignorance or willful exclusion by those in the Democratic party who preach inclusiveness. We were shut out. I thought Pete Seeger did the best job on stage singing Woody Guthrie's "Th is Land Is Your Land" a ballad which ma
y frighten Native children as it seems to tell the Americans they own what is rightfully ours but it does not mean that at all. It was considered a subversive song when it was released over 60 years ago since it was a call to share the resources of Turtle Island in common and without class distinction. It certainly terrified the rich people so they tried to have it banned but failed to do so. Had not World War Two happened Guthrie's dream of a more just and equitable society where wealth is distributed according to need may have actually happened. Pete looked good but the Irish band U 2 had no shame about mugging for the cameras.

At least the NMAI staff made an effort to welcome thousands of Natives to Washington. We were given comfortable seats and an excellent lunch. We listened to the speeched on closed circuit television and could hear the roar of the crowd as Obama was introduced. Too bad US Supreme Court Justice Roberts messed up when he gave Obama the oath of office. Obama's speech laid out a difficult road or Americans as he now has to clean up the mess Bush and crew left behind. Obama is a compelling speaker but his "hard reality" text lacked the poetry of Oren Lyons or the subtle humour of the late Leon Shenandoah. I can imagine Leon telling the Americans to use a little common sense and behave as if the lives of their children were at stake. Then he would ha
ve made sur e everyone was well fed. There was a cheer of relief when Bush helicoptered away. Dick Cheney was in a wheelchair and looked angry, with a scowl on that scary face. Maybe he felt slighted by not having been seated in the copter. I heard some people say his wheelchair should have been allowed to go down the steep Capitol steps and into the crowd where the people could show how they really feel about him.

We left the Museum early expecting to avoid the rush to the subways but a few hundred thousand others had the same idea. The closest station entrance was so packed it was impossible to get in. So we walked a couple of miles and found another entrance but that took an hour to enter. By the time we reached the hotel we had spent three hours on a trip which should have taken 45 minutes.

The Native American Inaugural Ball was held the same night at the Hyatt Hotel in a downstairs room which had low ceilings and carpets. This caused sounds to be absorbed and is a hard place for a musician to play. There were Natives from across the continent including a large group from the Assembly of First Nations. I saw Mohawk Council of Akwesasne's Grand Chief Tim Thompson in a sharp looking suit. He looked comfortable. I was told there were people from the St. Regis Tribal Council but they must have been hidden in the crowd. I did not see any Haudenosaunee leader but it20would have been nice to see one of the rotiiane w ith their deer antler kustoweh weaving through the people.

The entertainers represented some of the best Indian country has: Bill Miller, Derek Miller, Gary Farmer, Mike Bucher and Joanne. They kept playing until 4 AM. People were there not just for the music but to visit with old friends and make new ones. I am sure a lot of business was done that night. Anyone of the performers would have done well at the Lincoln Memorial concert so I hope the recording made of our event will be sent to Senator Feinstein.

I don't expect as much excitement for Obama's next inauguration in 2013 but I am glad a few Haudenosaunee citizens were able to see this historic event. We did not get to give Obama his official Mohawk name "Ranatikaiias" the 'town destroyer" but maybe he will agree to meet with the Haudenosaunee later and we can officially renew our relationship with the United States.

We left Washington the next day and to our pleasant surprise our flight was on time and less than full even though US Airways is now charging for warm bottles of water. Some companies have no shame.



Monday, January 26, 2009

The New Year

Haudenosaunee who follow the traditional way of life will soon observe our Midwinter Ceremonies and when completed we will have ushered in the new year. The calendar date of January 1st is not for Senecas who follow ongwehonwehka:a the beginning of the new year.
Our is a tradition of being and expressing thankfulness for the gifts our creator has provided.
The constellation pleiades and it's position in the east helps us reckon the correct moon.
doneh ho,

Monday, January 12, 2009


January is an auspicious time for new beginnings. We hope that it will be an auspicious time as well for the starting of our blog! This blog will be contributed to by the staff and members of the Friends of Ganondagan and will share information about the Ganondagan site, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) culture, health and wellness, news about upcoming events, and more.

For those who are not familiar with Ganondagan, it is a New York State Historic Site located in Victor, New York. Ganondagan is the location of a major 17th-century Seneca town and palisaded granary. The site today features a gift shop, a vistor's center, full-size replica of a 17th-century Seneca Bark Longhouse, miles of self-guided trails, trails to the mesa where a huge palisaded granary stored hundreds of thousands of bushels of corn, and the opportunity to learn about the destruction of Ganondagan, Town of Peace, in 1687. Ganondagan is also home to numerous events, festivals, and workshops promoting the message of peace as well as Haudenosaunee culture (both historic and contemporary), traditions, and artists.

Please stop back often to see what is new here! Nya: weh! (Thank You!)