Diane Schenandoah ’11, sculptor and spiritual advisor at the Barnes Center at The Arch, is hosting a traditional Haudenosaunee welcoming event, the Edge of the Woods Gathering, to be held on the Shaw Quad, Monday, August 29th, from 4-5 p.m.
This ancient traditional welcoming occurred whenever visitors appeared in Haudenosaunee villages. “Our ancestors sent singers to welcome visitors, then they spent the evening celebrating with song, dance, and food to nourish them for their journeys,” says Schenandoah. “We gathered to show the Creator that we are grateful to be a part of all creation here on Mother Earth.”
The Edge of the Woods Gathering is a new annual event held on campus to welcome all students, faculty, and staff into Haudenosaunee territory. Schenandoah is a citizen of the Oneida Nation and a Wolf Clan Faithkeeper. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is comprised of the Six Nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and the Tuscarora.
“It’s important to acknowledge and recognize that there are indigenous peoples still here and that we are all standing in the capital of the Haudenosaunee territory,” says Schenandoah. “This land is sacred. We welcome visitors to be part of this sacred place. Part of our teaching is that no one can own the land, so it’s important to remember that Syracuse University is part of a much bigger picture.”
When she started as the University community’s first Honwadiyenawa’sek—One who helps them—Schenandoah shared cultural beliefs through the Full Moon Ceremony and Witness to Injustice. Schenandoah says she is excited to share more teachings of the Haudenosaunee, the ways of her ancestors and relatives, and the little known fact that Syracuse is the birthplace of modern-day democracy. Through these teachings, Schenandoah hopes to offer awareness, acknowledgment and forgiveness.
At the gathering, speakers and dancers will set the stage for the new academic year. Hot scones and traditional strawberry drink will be offered. The hot scones are derived from traditional breads and the strawberry drink consists of strawberries, maple syrup, and water. “This is significant because strawberries are the leaders of the plants and maples are the leaders of the trees. In this way we honor them,” says Schenandoah.
Schenandoah encourages students, faculty, and staff to participate in the Edge of the Woods Gathering. “We are sharing our culture because the Earth is calling to us to pay attention, we require collective healing, and most importantly, we are inviting our community to live in gratitude,” she says.
For more information on this and other Hendricks Chapel events, visit chapel.syracuse.edu.