Thursday, December 2, 2010

Return of the Sun

Winter Sun at Fort Hill (Ganondagan)
It seems as though it was only yesterday that I was writing about the great wheel of the year turning and I was looking forward to the summer solstice. Now the winter solstice is nearly upon us and it is clear, the wheel certainly doesn't stop nor slow for anyone.

The winter solstice is the longest night of the year and it is also the day that marks the return of the sun - a time when our daylight hours will again begin to grow. At first the lengthening of our daylight is imperceptible. But with time it grows and in only 3 short months it is the spring equinox and the earth has begun to warm enough that the first signs of the approaching spring may be seen.

And so I suppose it is only right that this very special time of the year has traditionally been filled with sacred observances and as well as festivals of light in many cultures across the globe and throughout the centuries. I've included a few links to various observances, solstice information, and stories of the sun coming to the world below.

In looking for information to share, I came across a quote from Dante's Paradiso, "la luce divina e penetrante per l’universo secondo ch’e degno.” Translated it means, “the divine light penetrates the universe according to its dignity.” Divine light penetrating the universe - I can think of no better way to describe the return of the sun.


For more please see,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Canandaigua Treaty Keynote Speaker Oren Lyons

When I first heard that Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, would be the keynote speaker at this year's commemoration on Thursday, November 11 of the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794, it brought back my first experience hearing this quietly charismatic and visionary man. In the summer of 1991, I happened to catch Oren's interview with PBS television host Bill Moyers. I was taken with Oren's tremendous historical knowledge and perspective, his awareness of the importance of bringing the past into the present with consideration for the future, and of his tremendous sense of responsibility in his role as Faithkeeper. (A year later, he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nation, where he opened the International Year of the World's Indigenous People.)

It is remarkable that one man has done so much for so many. The awards he's received for his range of accomplishments is stunning: the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor; the National Audubon Award; the Earth Day International Award of the United Nations; the Elder and Wiser Award from the Rosa Parks Institute for Human Rights; and the Universal Award from the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations.

As if that's not enough for one man, this author, artist, and professor also received an Honorary Doctor of Law from Syracuse University, and was an All-American lacrosse player at S.U., receiving Man of the Year in Lacrosse by the NCAA.

So, on Thursday, November 11, I'll be there at the 216th commemoration of the Canandaigua Treaty between the Six Nations and the United States, rededicating the agreement that secures perpetual peace and friendship between the two. And I'll be grabbing a front-row seat to hear Oren. Hope you'll be there too for what I know will be an unforgettable experience.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Beauty

Maple Leaves at Ganondagan
Perhaps I'm a bit partial, but I think New York State has the best Autumns. The leaf color is amazing. Warm days, crisp evenings. Fall activities are full of unique experiences and fun that are free or for very little cost. Crunchy apples and tangy cider and "sincere pumpkin patches" with pumpkins as far as the eye can see. Be sure to take in some of these wonderful Fall sights, sounds, and flavors.

In planning your Fall experiences, be sure to include Ganondagan. We have miles of trails lined with some of the most specular trees for fall color - oaks, maples, sassafras, dogwood, and more. The late fruit producing trees and shrubs like spicebush, hawthorn, and dogwood add their brilliant berries to the tapestry. Late Fall blooming plants like asters, goldenrod, and witch hazel can be seen.

Garden Spider on asters
Animals such as geese that are starting their yearly migrations, can be seen flying overhead. Deer are taking on their more gray winter coats and are in the midst of their yearly courtship rituals. The last of the butterflies as well as other small visitors such as spiders and toads can be seen.

Fungi of unusual shapes, sizes, and colors dot the woodland trails. Some of them are quite beautiful while others look as if they are from another world.

The Ganondagan State Historic closes for the season at the end of October. While the trails are open year-round, the site (giftshop, longhouse, etc.) will close at the end of October. This leaves you a very short window if you had planned to visit this year.

Fall at Ganondagan
I would suggest making a day of it. Pack a picnic lunch and bring your camera on your visit to Ganondagan. Take in the sights and sounds. Smell the crisp Autumn air with the pleasantly acrid background scent of fallen leaves. See the flaming colors of the maple and sassafras. Walk the trails and revel in the serene fall beauty.

The sights of Bristol's Sky RidesAfter you've finished your visit with us, be sure to check out one of the other nearby fall fun locations. Check out our neighbor the Apple Farm for fresh apples, cider, wagon rides, and lots of family fun in the U-pick orchard.  Long Acres Farms in Macedon operates one of the best corn mazes around not to mention they offer a wide range of other family fun activities. Bristol Mountain operates their ski chair lifts to give visitors "Sky Rides" that offer an unrivaled view of the beauty that is the Finger Lakes in fall. And Sonnenberg Gardens is also nearing the end of their season and will also close at the end of October.  Besides touring their gorgeous gardens and estate, they are offering special "Mansion Mystery" events. Because Ganondagan is so conveniently located, all these other fall attraction locations are within a short drive of the site.

Please come and enjoy what a New York fall has to offer!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Two Ganondagan Events with Amy Stewart & Jan Longboat

This weekend Ganondagan will be hosting two events that feature Amy Stewart, the best-selling author of Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities and Jan Kahehti:io Longboat, Mohawk Elder and Keeper of Earth Healing Herb Gardens and Retreat Centre at Six Nation.

Our "Wild & Wicked Dinner" is the first event and it is friday night October 1 from 6-9pm. The dinner will be will held be an intimate setting in a beautiful private home in Mendon, NY and will feature a delicious night of wicked, wild, and powerful plants where you will get an opportunity to meet both Amy and Jan as well as dine on sumptuous dishes featuring foods native to the Americas. The evening will also feature a  book-signing with Ms. Stewart.

The second event, The Good, the Bad and the Powerful: Native Plants and Healing Seminar, is the next day on Saturday October 2. It will feature discussions by both Amy Stewart and Jan Longboat on the plants used for healing as well as those plants that can kill us - and sometimes a killer and a healer exists in the same plant. Come learn about our powerful green neighbors. Amy will also be on hand for a book signing.

Please see our "Wild & Wicked Dinner" webpage for videos of both Amy and Jan. They are very enjoyable and you will surely not want to miss these events! But if you do not hurry you will miss out. Registration for both events close Wednesday 9/29! Call to register or register on-line!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Charlie's Old Goat Run Pictures

Here's a great slide show of the race photos - it makes you feel like you were there! Enjoy!


Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run - Results!

Saturday September 18th was one of those rare gifts in Western NY at this time of the year - absolutely beautiful temperature, brilliant sun, and in a word, perfect. It was a perfect day for the running of Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run.

The proceeds from the race benefited the Friends of Ganondagan - a huge Nya:weh [thank you] to all who ran, cheered others on, organized the event, and the sponsors of the event!!  It's the generosity of people like you who make everything we do at Ganondagan possible!

Let's give a big hand to the top 5 runners from this year's race:

Charlie Andrews
DDennis Vankerhave
Tim Howland
Martin Coffey
Michelle Weiler
Great job one and all!

The Friends of Ganondagan and the staff at Ganondagan State Historic Site would like to express our thanks to Charlie and Sara Sabatine who worked so hard to organize this fund raiser for Ganondagan. NYA:WEH!

Please join us in thanking all the sponsors of this year's race as well:

Advent Auto, Apple Farm, 
Austin-Spencer Collision, Biaggi's,
 BJ's, Champps, Charlie's Restaurant, 
Dibella's, The Distillery, 
Eastern Mountain Sports, Fleet Feet Sports, 
Gander Mountain, Hogan's Hideaway, 
Longhorn Steakhouse, Marketplace Liquor,
Medved, Merle Norman, Metlife, 
Mickey Finn's, Olive Garden,
Parkview Fairways, Pellegrino's, Starbucks, 
Tri Running & Walking, Target, Tim Horton's, 
Victor Advanced Chiropractic, 
Victor Cole & Lumber
Victor Hills Golf Club, Wade's Market, 
Walmart, Wegmans, Wendy's

Monday, September 13, 2010

Botanical Medicine Certificate Program - Herbalism I

This Fall Dr. Les Moore will be teaching the next part of his herbal medicine certificate program. The Fall series of classes also features a guided trail walk at Ganondagan where wild medicinal plants are identified and discussed. 
The walk, as well as the other classes in the series, are excellent and I highly recommend them - I have personally taken the entire series as well as completing an apprenticeship with Dr. Moore.
While no books are required for the classes or the walk, Peterson's Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Foster and Duke is an excellent reference book for students of herbal medicine as well as people who want to know more about those "weeds" in their lawn which are more than just weeds. It is the most often referenced herb book in my personal library and I've included a link to the right for you to check out more about the book.
Botanical Medicine Certificate Program - Medical Herbalism Part I
September 23rd – October 21st  2010

This Course is the first in a series of three herbal study programs to be offered at Clifton

Springs Hospital through the Integrative Medicine department, The Botanical Medicine Institute, and Classical Formulas. While each series has a similar format, they will contain different information.  These classes are appropriate for health care providers, people employed in health related businesses or anyone interested in Herbalism.

Dr. Moore along with herbalists from the Classical Formulas Herbal Medicinary will instruct these classes.  Dr. Moore has a life-long interest and extensive education in the field of Herbalism, both Western and Eastern.

Register for the whole course or for class sessions separately, if you wish.  Each class meeting can be taken independently, with no prerequisite.  Students completing all three of the series (Parts I, II & III) will receive a certificate of course completion.  To be certain you have a place in class, please register early.

Location:   See individual class descriptions
Tuition:     $120 or $20/class 
Contact Classical Formulas for Registration:  315-462-0190

Blue Cohosh
Class 1 – Basic Herbal Therapeutics and Materia Medica
Learn about the historical uses of plant and their extensive studies reflected in “Materia Medica”, a standard reference. Topics of discussion will include origins, methods of preparation, the chemical construction and constituents, general physical characteristics, preparations, dosage and general influence on the body.
Thursday, September 23rd 2010 at 6:30-8:30 p.m., Clifton Springs Hospital

Class 2 – Plant Identification and Herb Walk
Take a 3+ hour walk in the woods to identify plants in your surroundings.  Learn about their habitat, history and uses.  Meet Ganondagan in Victor.  Bring water and snack, dress for the weather and wear appropriate walking footwear.
Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 9 a.m., Ganondagan, Victor, NY

Class 3 – Herb Pairs and Drug-Herb Interaction
This class will focus on paired herbs that are therapeutic for specific conditions.  Information on interactions that can occur between medicines and herbs will also be discussed.
Thursday, September 30th 2010 6:30-8:30 p.m., Clifton Springs Hospital

Witch hazel

Class 4 – Herbal Medicine Making
Hands on instruction will include herbal  infusion, decoctions and fomentations.  
Thursday, October 7th 2010 6:30-8:30 p.m., Clifton Springs Hospital

Class 5 – Herbal Formulas and Modifications
Herbs used in herbal formulas can act synergistically and can be tailored for each unique individual, even as a person or environment changes.  This class will consider how formulas can be used and altered to address specific changes.
Thursday, October 14th 2010 6:30-8:30 p.m., Clifton Springs Hospital

Class 6 – Herbal Therapeutics and First aid
Learn how herbs are used for first aid care, immune system building and gastrointestinal disorders.
Thursday, October 21st 2010 6:30-8:30 p.m., Clifton Springs Hospital

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2010 Educators' Day - Iroquois Confederacy

Ganondagan's Educators' Day is our annual conference that focuses on a particular theme related to the history and/or culture of the Iroquois people.

This year's conference will be held on 8/26 and will feature the theme "The Iroquois Confederacy."

While the event is geared for teachers and other educators, anyone may register and attend. Life-long learners are always welcome!

There is limited seating so register soon or you may miss out on this year's event!

For further information or to register, please see our Educators' Day webpage at:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Three Sisters Garden

If you haven't been to Ganondagan and taken a look at the 3 Sisters Garden this season you should. It has been a truly wonderful season for the garden. Between the weather and all the effort put into it, the garden is stunning! This year the garden also features signs for the vegetables that have both the English and Seneca names.

Tonia Loran-Galban has took the following picture of the garden in which you can see how lush and vigorous the corn, tomatoes, sunflowers, and pumpkins are!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Native American Dance & Music Festival and More!

Our Native American Dance & Music Festival is next weekend! We are excited because we think that this is one of the best festivals we have ever had! We think everyone will enjoy the Navajo Codetalkers and The Plateros not to mention all the other festivities we have planned. Please see our Dance & Music Festival webpage for the festival program which includes the complete festival schedule as well as information on the various acts and attractions, driving directions, and more.

If you visit our webpages, you will also notice a new icon/link on the left-hand side of the screen for Amazon. If you shop at Amazon, please consider navigating to Amazon via this link. Your shopping experience at Amazon is completely the same, but the Friends of Ganondagan can earn money from any purchases made.

We also have created a Ganondagan Online Store that features Iroquois and other Native American books, DVD's, and CD's. We have stocked the online store with suggestions from staff and friends for high quality items that our friends and members would enjoy. We even added a special Codetalker product page if you would like to read more about the Navajo Codetalkers or see one of the videos available. By the way - if there are books, movies, or music you would like to see us carry, please send us an email and let us know!

Thanks and hope to see you at the festival!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Native American Dance & Music Festival Video

Haven't been to one of our Native American Dance & Music Festivals yet? Perhaps you want to see who are our special guest performers this year? Or maybe you just want a little something to get you excited to attend again? Well, I've got just the thing for you - check out the following video!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Berries, Berries, Berries!

While the season for wild strawberries has passed, more wild berries have come into season - black raspberries (aka "black caps"), juneberries, and mulberries. We're enjoying all three of these berries at my place. The wild black raspberry bushes are a bit sparse this year at my place - some years are just better than others. But the black raspberries we have managed to pick are really wonderful tasting. My grandfather was a dairy farmer and loved the wild berries he would pick with fresh cream. It must be in the blood because if I'm not eating them fresh out-of-hand, I like them with good quality vanilla ice cream.

Juneberries (aka serviceberries, saskatoons) are not known by as many people as black caps but they should be. They are a wonderful treat with their blueberry-like flavor and almond aftertaste. I honestly don't understand why more people don't plant serviceberries in their lawns and gardens. They are a beautiful Spring bloomer, produce copious amounts of tasty fruit, and are an attractively shaped hardy and pest-free, native bush/small tree. Plus if you have the "wrong" soil for blueberries like me, these are a great alternative.

Mulberries are another little known fruit in the US. The North American native mulberry species is the Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) but most "wild" mulberries trees are actually a cross of the introduced White Mulberry (Morus alba) and the Red Mulberry. Either way, these medium-sized trees produce oodles of fruit that are loved at my house by every bird in the area as well as the humans! The mulberry fruit tastes like...well,  a mulberry! But I guess it can be best described as being similar in taste to a raspberry. I've heard people curse these trees in their landscape because the dropped fruit is "messy." I think they are incredibly silly and my suggestion to them is to pick the fruit and eat it or use it for their favorite berry recipe. One of the best tasting pies I have *EVER* made was a mulberry pie made with berries from our trees.

So to get you wanting to do some berry picking of your own, here is a Berry Cobbler recipe. Use your favorite berries and enjoy!

Berry Cobbler

2 cups fresh berries of your choice, cleaned & drained
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups water

Cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Mix flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth. Pour evenly into 2 quart buttered casserole. Spoon berries over batter. Mix 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over fruit. Pour water over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 - 50 minutes. During baking, fruit and juice will go to the bottom and a cake-like layer forms on the top. Serve warm with ice cream or whip cream. Serves 6-8.

By the way, if you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out our Recipes page. We are always adding more recipes of foods that are indigenous to the Americas.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Wheel Keeps Turning

Monday is the Summer Solstice - well, Monday at 7:29am to be exact for our location. It is a special day - it is the longest day and shortest night of the year. After Monday, our days begin to get shorter again and keep doing so until the Winter Solstice in December.

With each solstice, equinox, and some of the other seasonal year markers like May Day and Halloween, I take note of the specialness of the day. It makes me feel different. It makes me feel part of something bigger and I guess I am since I am a passenger on our great Mother Earth as she makes another circle around the Sun.

Depending upon the season I celebrate the day in different ways - for May Day, I visit a park and enjoy the Spring wildflowers and the regreening of the Earth. For the Winter Solstice, I go outside at night and let the quiet stillness of Winter and the icy, twinkling stars fill me. And since the Summer Solstice is all about the Sun, I rise as early as I can to greet the Sun as it sets off to make its journey across the sky.

Our ancestors throughout history and throughout the world have also taken special note of these times as well. Not only did they take note, but they built markers, monuments, and sacred sites to note our yearly path around the sun and other astronomical events. They created giant calenders and celestial observatories made out of stone, wood, and earth - some of these surviving to our modern day.

The ancient Britons built Stonehenge, Newgrange, and others. The Mayans built the pyramid "El Castillo" at Chitzen Itza where shadows on the Fall and Spring equinoxes make the "serpent come down from the sky." And many others throughout the ages and around the world including those created by Native Americans. The picture above is of Medicine Wheel in Big Horn County, Wyoming. It is a precolumbian stone structure known as a "medicine wheel" and it is one of many such structures throughout North America that were built by Native Americans. The Bighorn Medicine Wheel is also one of these ancient stone and earth calendars. It marks the Summer Solstice as well as the rising of the stars Sirius, Aldebaran, and Rigel. And without a doubt, this site will herald in the Summer Solstice this upcoming Monday.

So while you may not have Stonehenge in your backyard or the Bighorn Medicine Wheel around the corner, the Sun will rise above your home just the same as these special places come Monday. Rise early. Greet the Sun and be thankful for the Sun's warming rays. Be thankful for being a passenger on the great yearly trip around the Sun once more. Be thankful for all the blessings that are yours. And if you have a special place in your yard or garden, take 2 sticks. Push one into the ground. And as the Sun breaks the horizon Monday morning, line up the Sun, the first stick and the second stick. Push the second stick into the ground. Later find two special rocks and replace the sticks with those rocks. They will mark not only the Summer Solstice for you all year long but the blessings you have to be thankful for as well.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Wild Strawberries - Red Ambrosia

Have you had any wild strawberries yet?

I picked some tonight and shared with my children. Mmmmm...nothing like them. Strawberries are something that "bigger is not always better" definitely applies to. The wild strawberry has so much favor and sweetness packed into that tiny red berry. Those red behemoths that you find on your grocer's shelves so pale in comparison in every way save the size.

Home-grown strawberries are better than the usual supermarket fare so if you don't have access to wild strawberries (which many don't) or your own strawberry patch, find homegrown strawberries at your local farmers' market or a U-pick farm. And I do recommend picking your own. There's nothing like harvesting your own food - whether it be wild grown or cultivated. And share the experience with the young ones in your life. Teach them about growing and harvesting food. Their life will be richer for it.

A few sweet facts about strawberries.....
  • One of the ceremonies of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) ceremonial year celebrates the strawberry
  • The strawberry is not a berry at all. It is an Accessory fruit
  • The cultivated garden strawberry is a cross between 2 New World strawberry species
  • Strawberry leaves make a nice tea
  • The strawberry is a member of the Rose family
  • The strawberry is the only fruit to have its seeds on the outside
  • Strawberries are grown in every state in the United States and every province in Canada
  • The US is the top producer of strawberries in the World
  • Strawberries have 9 vitamins & minerals (Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin A) and their leaves Vitamins C and K.
  • 94% of US households consume strawberries 
  • The strawberry is recognized as representing absolute perfection in the Victorian language of flowers
  •  Strawberries have a very short season - approximately 2 weeks near the Summer Solstice
  • The wild strawberry was the first plant to colonize the rim of Mount St. Helens after its 1980 eruption
  • The strawberry is of the genus Fragaria. The word, 'fragaria' comes from the Latin word meaning fragrant
  • The strawberry plant was used medicinally in Europe and by the Native peoples of North America 
So go pick a few strawberries. And if you want them the way I like them best (other than fresh out of hand!) is to simply slice them and serve them over good vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Planting Moon

Hopefully this day finds you in your gardens enjoying the sun and  planting seeds. Today is the "Planting Moon" and those following lunar cycles to plant, find this an auspicious day full of fecundity and vitality for the newly planted seed. 

Perhaps you know it already, but each full moon goes by many different names around the world. Many of these names indicate seasonal activities or traits of the season, such as the "Planting Moon" or the "Harvest Moon." Check out this link for a list of some the full moon names.

And if you haven't yet planted your seeds, this long holiday weekend is a perfect time. Rather than going to the beach or picnics at a park, this is exactly how I usually spend my holiday weekend - in the sun and dirt with seeds in my hands.

And if you are looking to add the littlest of the Three Sisters (beans) to your garden this year, here's a suggestion from my vegetable garden. My vegetable seeds (last year's leftovers and new seeds for the year) used to be kept in a shoebox. Well, I went past them fitting in a large moving box long ago. One of my problems is that I end up with 6 seeds of this or 12 of that leftover - not enough for a row of any thing but I save them anyways. I think there is something criminal about throwing out seeds so I never do it. But seeds don't last forever. Although outside some notable exceptions, most seeds retain decent viability for 2-3 years.

So unless you get exactly the same varieties of a vegetable each year, you'll have leftovers like me. Take those tiny handfuls of seeds from previous seasons mix them and plant a row. The most enjoyable rows of beans I ever grew were the rows of pole beans I grew the last two years where I did just this. The rows were highly productive over a long period since all the varieties mature at slightly different rates. And the mixed bean harvest had a variety of color and taste on the dinner plate.

And on that subject....if you are not already a fan of pole beans, I urge you to try some this year. Most gardeners have more desire for plants than garden space. Pole beans are an excellent producer for the small footprint they take up in the garden. They grow up, not out. You sow them rather thickly and let them climb. You don't need anything fancy or complicated for them to climb on. Long sticks and poles work just fine and hey, those do grow on trees!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend and join me (at least in spirit) in the sun and rich earth of the garden!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Native Plant Smackdown

While reading a forum on native plants a few weeks back I came across a link to the article Garden Smackdown - Roll Call: Native Plants in my Garden. The article was a challenge was to list and share what native plants were growing in your garden. I found this an interesting idea since I have dedicated my gardening and planting energies over the last 10 years to one of 3 categories - food, medicinal, and native plants. So I've made a list of the native plants growing at my home that I or the previous owner planted or have encouraged to grow. There are many benefits to growing natives - hardy & pest resistant, support native fauna (like butterflies), need little special care once established, and many are simply beautiful. I've separated the plants into multiple lists to help you if you would like to try these in your gardens - which I strongly encourage!

Need more info: What are native plants? and How to and why to plant native plants

Sun-loving Perennials:
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida)

Tennessee Purple Coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis)
Yellow Coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa)
Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Asters - multiple varieties (Asters spp.)
Goldenrod - multiple varieties (Solidago spp.)
Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis)
Tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata)
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra)
Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosa)
Perennial Sunflower (Helianthus maximillian)
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
Sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa)
Black-eyed-Susan (Rudebeckia hirta)
Roseroot (Rhodiola rosea)
Mountain Mint (Pycanthemum virginianum)
Cherokee Sweet Mint (Pycanthemum incanum)
Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)
Indian Hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)
Wild Qinine (Parthenium integrifolium)

Shade-loving, Woodland Perennials:
Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Labrador Violet (Viola labradorica)
Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)
White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)
Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum)
Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum peltatum)
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda)
Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia)
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla)
Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
American Spikenard (Aralia urticifolia)

Partial Sun/Shade Perennials:
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Woody Plants - Trees/Shrubs:
Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Sweet Birch (Betula lenta)
Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus)
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)
Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Grey Dogwood (Cornus racemosa)
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
American Hazel (Corylus americana)
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)
Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
High Bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum)
Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)
Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)
Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa)

Feel free to post your own native plants list (via a comment to this post) or perhaps let us know how the plants you purchased from the native plant vendors we had at our Native American Dance & Music Festival last year are doing.

If you are feeling a bit confused and would love to read more, my favorite book on native plants of this region is Native Plants of the Northeast by Donald Leopold. I've included a link to the right for this book. Enjoy and go native!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recycle Craft - Plant Markers

Traditionally Native peoples, like all early cultures, made the utmost use of the materials at hand. There were no Mega-Marts. No pre-fab kits. You made what you needed or perhaps traded with someone who could. So beyond just the respect for Mother Earth and her finite resources, I think recycle crafts are a modern incarnation of that ancient creative and ingenious spirit of our ancestors to use, re-use, and re-purpose materials at hand for all their needs.

The following is a simple recycle craft to create plant markers or labels out of containers that would have been otherwise thrown in the recycle bins.

Materials Needed:
• Plastic container -
     #2 plastic 1-gallon works best
• Scissors
• Permanent Markers

1.) Clean and dry containers as needed.

2.) Using sturdy craft scissors or kitchen shears, cut sections out of the container. Cutting along corners to maximize flat usable surfaces is best.

Cut off the bottom and save.

3.) Cut the sections into strips. The exact size is up to you. For the example shown here, the strips were approximately an inch wide.

If there are curves or uneven spots, do not worry. The last step addresses that.

4.) Make two cuts at the end of each strip to create a point.

5.) Use a permanent marker to write the plant's name or other information on the label.

Since I try lots of different heirloom varieties of vegetables each year, I use lots of these markers in seed starting!

6.)After the permanent marker has dried, fold or crease the stake lengthwise. This will address any curved parts of the plant marker, give the label some stability, and will make these markers easier to push into the soil.

7.) Label your plants and enjoy. Note: the permanent marker will fade if used outdoors. I get a growing season out of these before they are too faded. If you live in very hot or sunny location, you may get less time before fading.

8.) The bottom saved earlier in an earlier step can be used too. I use it as a saucer for some of those young potted seedlings!

I hope you enjoyed this simple craft. If you have recycle ideas to share, post a link in the comments to this article or send them to us at Thanks!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Beat a Drum for Ganondagan Rally

We hope you could make it to our Beat a Drum for Ganondagan Rally today. It was a gorgeous day - sun and blue skies with the cherry, apple, and serviceberry trees in bloom. The day was made all the more special and beautiful by all the friends and supporters who came to show their support for Ganondagan! 

At the rally Perry Ground, President of the Friends of Ganondagan, spoke, shared stories, sang, and introduced our guest speakers. All our speakers and supporters were of the same mind - a treasure like Ganondagan can not be allowed to vanish! Even the hawk that flew overhead lent his support to our cause.

If you were not able to attend, let me be the first to share with you excellent news - the Seneca Nation of Indians has committed to the full amount of money that is needed to allow the site to open on May 1st for the season! NYA:WEH! [Thank you!] The money will be used for all the costs associated with opening the site for the season.

Nya:weh to all those that have generously opened their hearts and pocketbooks to financially support us as well! We will use your generous donations in support of the site and the programming which we offer to you.

Even though we have the money to open, please do not let up your pressure on your elected officials. The state budget must pass and insure the state parks and historic sites can not only open but remain open for the season. The money that we have collected and that has been pledged to us thus far will enable us to open but we require the state to pass a budget that supports us for the rest of the season.

 Nya:weh to all our supporters, rally attendees, friends, donors, and well-wishers!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Birdwatching at Ganondagan

My eyes are usually down while trail walking. I'm a self-proclaimed "plant nerd" and looking down is the way to spot all the interesting plants along the way. But I must admit that last week while trail walking at Ganondagan that my eyes were often brought up. Spring is a wonderful time not only to see and enjoy wildflowers, it is also a great time to do some birdwatching.

While I can identify hundreds of plants and trees, I am no birder. The birds I can identify by sight and song are rather limited but even I could recognize the wonderful collection of birds that I could see or hear along my hike. I knew it would be a good day for seeing our feathered friends when a male bluebird warbled at me from his perch atop the bark longhouse.

In my travels I saw or heard many birds but I can only identify a few. Those few included: bluebirds, ring-necked pheasant (I was close enough to hear him drum his wings after his call), chickadees, crows, blue-jays, flickers, woodpeckers (heard, not seen!), canada goose, tree swallows, and robins. There were others, but not ones I knew.

I included a link to my favorite bird field guide, Peterson Field Guides Eastern Birds. It's a great guide to take on trail walks that covers all the birds you would most likely see at Ganondagan. It has color pictures and brief descriptions for each bird with a format that is friendly to the beginner as well as more experienced bird watchers.

I've also included a link to an audio CD, Birding by Ear: Eastern and Central North America. Sometimes you never see the bird, but you certainly can hear them. And unless it is a mockingbird (who I can hear right now singing outside my window), the bird songs are pretty distinctive for each species. My mockingbird friend does the bird world's "Greatest Hits" for me - he serenades me with bluebird and other distinctive bird calls that are not his own!

Whether it is Ganondagan's trails or your own backyard, I hope you can get out and enjoy the beauty and song of our avian friends!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Ephemerals at Ganondagan

Spring Ephemeral is the term used to describe a whole group of early spring blooming wildflowers that vanish nearly as quickly as they appear.

Today while hiking at Ganondagan, I managed to snap some lovely shots of one my my favorite Spring Ephemerals, Bloodroot. I had to share one of the images - I hope you enjoy it!

Be sure to make a little time to do some trail walking in early spring to catch these and other early blooming wildflowers!


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Botanical Medicine Certificate Program

Jack-in-the-PulpitWhile this is not Friends of Ganondagan sponsored programming, we thought our friends and members may be interested in taking a few classes or perhaps the whole series from our good friend and skilled Naturopathic doctor, Dr. Les Moore, N.D. M.S.O.M., LAc. I can personally vouch for the high quality nature of these herbal medicine classes since I have taken the entire certificate program as well as completing an apprenticeship with Dr. Moore.

Whether you are interested in learning how to use herbs medicinally or love plants and want to know more about how they are used, be sure to check these classes out! I have included class details below but contact Classical Formulas at 315-462-0190 for any additional information or to register! Enjoy!


Botanical Medicine Certificate Program

Medical Herbalism Part III
April 8th through May 13th

Wild StrawberryThis Course is the third in a series of three herbal study programs to be offered at Clifton Springs Hospital through the Integrative Medicine department, The Botanical Medicine Institute, and Classical Formulas. While each series has a similar format, they will contain different information. These classes are appropriate for health care providers, people employed in health related businesses or anyone interested in Herbalism.

Dr. Moore and herbalists from Classical Formulas Herbal Medicinary will instruct these classes. Dr. Moore has a life-long interest and extensive education in the field of Herbalism, both Western and Eastern.
You may register for the whole series or at the beginning of each class. Students may begin ANY series at ANY time with no prerequisites of the previous series. Each series is a stand-alone module. Students completing all three of the series (Parts I, II & III) will receive a certificate upon course completion. To be certain you have a place in class please register early, as class size is limited.

Tuition is $120 for the series or $20 per class. Contact Classical Formulas for registration at 315-462-0190 by April 6th.

PLEASE NOTE: All classes are held on Thursdays at Clifton Springs Hospital from 6:30 - 8:30pm with the exception of the herb walk on Saturday May 1st 2010 held at the Ontario Pathways Trail, Phelps, NY at 9:00am.

Medical Herbalism Part III - April 8th through May 13th 2010
Course Descriptions

White Trillium
Class 1 – Botanical Medicine/Single Herbs – April 8th
Learn about herbs to soothe gastrointestinal tract as well as nervous system, aid in digestion, allergies and cleansing as well as combating viruses including fevers.

Class 2 – Herbal Therapeutics/Spring Detoxification–April 15th
This class will focus on herbal therapeutics for detoxifying the body.

Class 3 – Herbal Medicine Making – April 29th
Learn how to make herbal infusions with oil, vinegar and honey. We will also discuss making herbal salves from the oil infusions.

Class 4 – Plant Identification/Herb Walk – May 1st
This class will be a 3+ hour walk to identify plants in the surroundings area. You will learn about their habitat, history and uses. This class will meet at the Ontario County Pathways trail, Route 96, Phelps, NY. Bring water and snack, dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear.
Class 5 – Herb Pairs/Drug Interaction and Materia Medica for Children – May 6th
This class will focus on paired herbs that are therapeutic for specific conditions. Information on interactions that can occur between medicines and herbs will also be discussed as well as herbal dosages for children.

Class 6 – Herbal Formulas & Modifications – May 13th
Herbs used in herbal formulas can act synergistically and can be tailored for each unique individual, even as a person or environment changes. This class will consider how formulas can be used and altered to address specific changes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring - do you see the signs?

Again rejoicing Nature sees
Her robe assume its vernal hues:
Her leafy locks wave in the breeze,
All freshly steep’d in morning dews.

- Robert Burns
Do you see the signs of Spring in the air? Besides the sugaring of the maples, Spring has been telling me it is nearly here in other ways too.

This morning I was serenaded by the "Songbird Top-40" master himself, the mockingbird. Some think Spring is nearly here when they see the first robin. Not me. Robins show up usually just in time to get a whole lot of snow dumped on them. I look for my mockingbirds to show up. They are a much better judge of Spring.

I also look to the pussy-willow. Like the mockingbird, it is rarely wrong in heralding Spring. Once the pussy-willow catkins get all fuzzy and fun to touch, spring is nearly here. My pussy-willow tree says it is time. See a close-up of its grey and pink catkins to the right. This afternoon I cut a big pussy-willow bouquet to bring in and dream of the warming days.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Maple Weekend

The collection of maple sap is one of the earliest indications that Old Man Winter is loosing his grasp on the land. Sap collection buckets have begun to appear - maybe you have seen them on trees during your daily commute? Even if you haven't, be assured they are there and they are collecting sap so it can be turned into wonderful maple syrup and maple sugar products.

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) celebrate the flowing of Maple sap each year. It is one of the celebrations of their ceremonial year. Perhaps you too can celebrate the coming of the Spring and of the maple sap. This weekend (3/20 & 3/21) is the start of Maple Weekend and it concludes the following weekend (3/27 & 3/28). Maple Weekend is a celebration of the maple syrup industry in New York State. Various maple syrup producers will be holding events and for the nearest one to you, refer to the Maple Weekend Map.

So get out of the house. Have some fun and celebrate the wonderful gift of maple syrup!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ganondagan Winter Hike Slideshow

We have just put up a new slideshow for you. It showcases the beauty and serenity that can be found in winter hikes. The slideshow is of a hike that ranges from the Ganondagan Fort Hill trails to Dryer Road Park and back. We hope you enjoy!

By the way, if you haven't taken a few minutes to write your representatives yet in support of Ganondagan, please do so. It was clear in the hike that many use the Fort Hill Trails for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hiking, and more. If you enjoy these things, I urge you to write and make sure that they don't vanish! See our Save Ganondagan! page for more information. Many thanks in advance!


Friday, February 26, 2010

Save Ganondagan Video

Please see the following for a few of the reasons to keep Ganondagan from closing!!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Save Ganondagan!

Dear Friends,

As many of you may have heard, Governor Paterson has made serious cuts to New York State's parks budget, closing or reducing services to 57 parks in New York State. Although Ganondagan has been removed from the "cut list," funding is now slated to be handled by the Environmental Protection Fund and must be approved by legislature, which puts our funding at serious risk.

If funding is cut or Ganondagan is closed - even for one year - it could irreparably damage the land, the buildings and the programming, obliterating the 23 years that have gone into creating this national treasure.

We are asking for your help in making legislators and the Governor understand why Ganondagan must be preserved, now and in perpetuity. At our website, we give links making it easy for you to click on the link, find your representatives and send an email.

Ganondagan is many things to many people, and by sharing what Ganondagan means to you, the legislators will realize the many ways in which Ganondagan contributes to the state, the community and its people. In case you've got writer's block, we've drafted a letter with several paragraphs from which you might select two or three to cut and paste or to use as inspiration in your communications with legislators.

The Iroquois people have a philosophy called "The Seventh Generation," traditionally applied to environmental concerns, that all decisions, all actions, must be regarded in terms of how they will impact those living seven generations in the future.

Please go today to the links listed on our website, before it is too late, to make your voice heard, taking action to protect Ganondagan for at least seven generations, for your grandchildren and your grandchildren's grandchildren.

Nya:weh (thank you)!

PS. - Be sure to visit our website to see a wonderful slide show showcasing many of the things that would vanish if Ganondagan closed its doors. See the show at:

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Gift of Food

We have recently re-designed our Recipebox web page. It now has a greater focus on the foods indigenous to the Americas. Besides recipes, we also have a brief introduction to the history and origins of the food items. Some of the foods that were cultivated and harvested by the Native peoples of the Americas may surprise you. Did you know that the peanut and chocolate were first grown and harvested in South America and Central America respectively?

We have also doubled the number of recipes we are offering and have included images of the various food items. We hope you will enjoy this new resource and try some of the recipes. Also, be sure to check back often since we will be adding additional New World food items as well as new recipes!

Speaking of the traditions of food, I recently picked up a magazine that featured "heirloom," forgotten recipes - recipes that have been made for generations but have largely been forgotten. We all have recipes that have been passed down to us. I included one such recipe (Scalloped Corn in the corn recipe section). This recipe has been made in my family for at least 4 generations. It is a simple recipe that takes canned sweet corn - something put away during the harvest season and adds a few common farm-fresh ingredients to create a something-from-nothing dish. It is simple but tasty. And in eating it, you can appreciate the creativity of our ancestors to stretch what simple and sometimes meager food items they may have had into something more.

So in our re-launch of our Recipe pages, we would like to offer you the opportunity to submit your recipes featuring New World food items for possible inclusion in our Recipebox page. If it is a family tradition or if it has an interesting story that can be briefly shared, please feel free to send that along with your recipe. It is sometimes those bits of color and history that truly make the recipe! Send your submissions to us at Thanks and enjoy!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Parks & Trails New York - Call to Action: Don't Close my Park!

Urgent: Parks to close unless you speak out!

If there's one time New York's parks need your help it's now.

The Governor's proposed budget slashes funding for state parks. If the budget passes as is, there will be no choice but to close parks, according to Parks Commissioner Carol Ash. How many and which parks are still unknown. But it's likely that one of the parks or historic sites you love and use will be on the list.

Please take just five minutes to help parks by contacting your legislators this week. Read more on how you can take action...


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beat Those Winter Blues!

About this time of the year, the sun decides not to show its face very much. The weather gets gray...the ground gets gray...people get gray...I don't know why they call it the "winter blues." It should be more like the "winter grays!"

Thankfully, I'm an avid gardener and I think it helps me not succumb to those gray-times. Starting around Christmas, my mailbox is visited by the most wonderful things - the spring seed and plant catalogs! They are filled with pictures of plants that grow in green and sunny times. Oh, how I browse through those catalogs and dream of those halcyon days of Summer and my fingers working in the dark rich Earth!

Ok, I freely admit it, I am a plant-junkie. But you know, it's not a bad thing to be. I know how to grow my own vegetables. I know how to identify many of the plants and trees around me. I know many wild, edible plants as well as the poisonous ones to avoid. I know how to grow, harvest, and use many herbs, both culinary & medicinal. I know the "invasive" plants that should be eradicated for other flora as well as fauna. And best of all, I can share that knowledge with the young people in my life.

There's a quote in the video "Get 'em Outside" by the "No Child Left Inside" group that says young people can identify 1000 corporate logos but fewer than 10 plants and animals native to their backyard. That is sad. How can you care about the world around you when you know so little about it?

So here's my winter blues beater suggestion: plan to grow something this year. Start your planning now. Check out seed and plant catalogs - many places will send them to you for free. Even if you buy local (which I always suggest!), the catalogs are great ways to learn and plan.

If you haven't gardened before, start small. Try a patio tomato. Or some marigolds. Anything easy that has appeal for you.

If you live in an apartment or have limitations on your mobility, container gardening is just the thing. Here's a great forum to ask questions on container gardening.

Already a gardener? Grow some vegetables. They taste great and many are easy as well as attractive in the garden.

Veggies not your thing? Then try growing native plants. Native plants are the plants that are indigenous to this region. They are wonderfully hardy and ideally suited to grow here. If you are an experienced gardener, this symposium on designing with native plants may be of interest.

In all your planning, make sure to stay as "green" as possible. I wrote an article on green gardening, Things to Make your Garden Greener, that may help you get growing green.

And finally, please share the beauty and wonder of this great Earth with the young ones in your life. Or share with students at a local school, at a library, or perhaps even in a community garden. I have had the opportunity to present rocks & minerals, fossils, and wild edible plants to primary and elementary school kids. I can't tell you the excitement there was to see, to touch, and to ask questions. The students were fully engaged and learning. You don't have to be an expert - a little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of love for the subject matter is all you need!

So get planning and dreaming of warmer days to drive away those gray days of winter!


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Walk Home: Journey to Native American Wellness

During Ganondagan's 2009 Native American Dance and Music Festival, Ganondagan was honored to receive guests from the Tohono O’odham Nation. The article below is based on an interview conducted with Terrol Dew Johnson, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Tohono O’odham Community Association during the group's visit:
Walkers from the Tohono O'odham Nation were welcomed warmly at Ganondagan's 2009 Native American Dance & Music Festival
L to R, Maray Johnson (age 14), Shane Johnson (age 16), Terrol Dew Johnson and G. Peter Jemison (Seneca). Photo by David Mitchell.

Terrol Dew Johnson is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Tohono O’odham Community Association (TOCA), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating a healthy, sustainable and culturally vital community on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

If you had told him 19 years ago that he would be walking with family members from Bar Harbor, Maine to his home in Southern Arizona where the Tohono O’odham Nation is located, he’d probably have looked at you in skeptical disbelief.

In July, Terrol, his niece and nephew took time out of their 3000 mile walk to participate in the annual Native American Dance & Music Festival at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, NY. where he shared insights about his mission.

“I was fortunate to grow up with my grandparents. My grandfather was a Medicine Man and my grandmother was knowledgeable about herbs and plants. I was raised with the idea that I should help my family and my people.”

Terrol learned basketweaving at an early age and traveled the world through his art, but brought his skills home to share with his people.“I was giving basket weaving lessons and the size of the classes was starting to outgrow my home when a Missionary came to our Nation. He wasn’t like many, only interested in sharing his beliefs. He was my age and interested in our indigenous foods and gardens. He was also knowledgeable about grant writing.

“When I discovered he was doing gardening, I went to visit him. As we talked and found out more about each other, he offered to write grants to provide services that would enrich the community. That was the beginning of TOCA.”

Today, under the nurturing efforts of Johnson and TOCA business partner, Missionary Tristan Reader, the non-profit organization has grown in size and scope. The organization’s activities include Food System and Wellness initiatives, a Basketweavers’ Guild, Arts and Cultural Revitalization, Youth & Elders Programming and Food and Fitness Collaborations. Johnson and Reader have achieved most of the things they set out to do including growing the farm to 1800 acres, building classrooms in which to teach, founding an art gallery and a cafĂ© and offering enhanced economic opportunity to the community.

So how does that lead to a 3,000 mile walk?

“For most of my life, I’ve been focused on my people, but I realized if I didn’t take better care of myself, I wouldn’t be there for them. I am a diabetic and I wasn’t eating right or getting exercise. I needed to make a stand, which is how ‘The Walk Home: Journey to Native American Wellness’ came about. The walk is a fundraiser for TOCA, but it’s also meant as an inspirational message to the Native community.”

Johnson enlisted four nieces and nephews, age 12 to 16 to join him in his walk.

“Like many of our people, my family members are dealing with painful situations at home – drugs, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, premature death – and I wanted to share the world with them and give them hope for change.”

Two of the four young people who started out have returned home due to family complications.

“I was really upset at first, but I realized I just had to ‘Let Go, Let God’ and believe there was a reason for their early return home.”

It was by fortuitous coincidence that Terrol and his two companions arrived at Ganondagan in time for the late July Festival.

“When I was looking at our route, I put a message out on Facebook, asking for contacts in this area. A mutual friend, Loretta Oden who has been a chef at Ganondagan’s Native Foods Feast, suggested I contact Jeanette [Miller] and Peter [Jemison].

“Since we’ve been here at Ganondagan, the outpouring of support and friendship has been amazing. People have come up and given us food baskets and money. They’ve offered prayers and blessings. I’m used to caring for others, so it feels odd to have others taking care of me. I’m certain there will be future collaborations between TOCA and Ganondagan.

“If there was something I’d like others to take away from our walk, it’s that there are people out here who are trying to make a difference. That’s why we’re walking.”

For more about TOCA, The Walk Home: Journey to Native American Wellness, or to make donations toward this initiative, visit
By Carol White Llewellyn
Photo by David Mitchell.