Back Home

Hey everybody,

Sorry for the blackout! There is no internet currently at my house, so I was not able to post as I wanted to. Once I get it back working, though, I plan to update through regularly throughout the rest of this project in the coming months. So please stick around!

All the best,

RM

Getting Back

Hey everybody,

Hopefully this is not becoming a habit, but I there will not be a new post tonight. I just got in from Washington D.C. and experienced a spat of rain and construction that made it longer than it should. I will so, though, that I gathered a lot of material from the museum today! It lived up to the expectations set for it.

I will be back tomorrow.

All the best,

RM

National Museum of the American Indian and update from yesterday

Hey everybody,

Today I am writing from Washington D.C. It was a late-minute decision, but at the recommendation of two professors and Oren Lyons himself, it was something I could not pass up.

The National Museum of the American Indian includes George Heye’s anthropological and Joseph Keppler’s personal collection on various Haudenosaunee item “including both objects of aesthetic importance and everyday items.” Additionally, and the most important to my work as of this moment, is the “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations” exhibit. Oren had mentioned this collection, citing it as a fine representation of wampum treaties and their significance, as well as being aware of the influence Haudenosaunee culture had upon our nation’s founding. The exhibit’s own page can be found here. I am extremely lucky to be able to see this exhibition at this moment in my research. Richard Hill, in Indian Roots of American Democracy, has a compelling statement on the role of museums in modern Native American Studies. He explained, “museums are not ancient institutions … As museums redefine their roles and their directions, they have been moving away from being custodians of ‘artifacts’ of dead cultures and becoming supporters of living ones.” This exhibit, and museum as a whole, is dedicated to expanding public knowledge on a cultures that resided here before us and are still alive despite much of post-contact non-Native intention. Furthermore, as Haudenosaunee scholars will tell you, these treaties that were crafted are still alive themselves; it is an arrangement that past and modern American politicians tend to ignore.

Looking into this exhibit, I am becoming more and more excited to visit and experience the work Smithsonian has done. For now, though, I will try to make good on my promise yesterday and share what pictures I was able to take:

20150619_085432Here, Tadodaho Sid Hill is giving his Thanksgiving Address at Onondaga Lake. It was a coordinated event on “National Sacred Places Prayer Day.” Suzan Harjo, who coincidentally wrote the book Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations, held a similar event in Washington D.C. The event was made to honor places venerated in American Indian traditions: Onondaga Lake and Ganondagan being the two Haudenosaunee locales specifically. Not pictured is Oren Lyons, who appeared later in the address. He gave his own speech after Tadodaho Sid Hill’s was finished. As I mentioned yesterday, it was extremely moving. When Oren speaks, you begin to understand why he is so valued in the Native community; he is well-spoken, truthful, and easy to understand. I was actually so caught up in speaking with him, that I forgot to take a picture. I am hoping to visit him Monday or Tuesday.

20150619_193045I, uh, am sorry about this picture. As you can tell, I should stick to writing rather than photography. Be that as it may, this is Tom Porter giving his own Thanksgiving Address. It was at a benefit event for Kanatsiohareke Mohawk community. During the speech, Tom explained the importance and significance of saying Thanksgiving everyday. Or, rather, it was as he put it “that which you say before issues of importance.” It was rather moving, as Tom told us to “pile” that which we are thankful and become aware of it all. Then, as tradition states, you give this address to the Creator for making it all happen. Tom then went on to tell stories of his great-grandfather and grandmother, which was met with several bits of laughter and more than a couple moments of deep reflection by the crowd. Mr. Porter had a certain way of drawing in the crowd and delivering his point extremely easily. I had the chance to speak to him alone prior to the address and we exchanged contact information. I am hoping to set up an interview with him on Monday.

Unfortunately, that is all I have prepared. I apologize for these last few days not featuring in-depth scholastic work, but now more than ever, I have been thrown into the research and cultural process of working alongside Haudenosaunee. Plus it was a six hour drive down here and I am just getting set up. I hope to present a lot more in the next few days after getting more interviews in and settling in back home.

All the best,

RM


 

References:

Hill, Richard. “Oral Memory of the Haudenosaunee: Views of the Two Row Wampum”. Indian Roots of American Democracy. Edited by José Barreiro. Ithaca: Akwe:kon Press, Cornell University, 1992. 149-165.

National Museum of the American Indian. “Collections”. Smithsonian. Accessed on June 20, 2015. http://nmai.si.edu/explore/collections/

—. “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations”. Smithsonian. Accessed on June 20, 2015. http://nmai.si.edu/explore/exhibitions/item/?id=934

Tadodaho Sid Hill, Oren Lyons, and Tom Porter

Hey everyone,

Today’s post is going to be short. I had the opportunity to listen to current Tadodaho Sid Hill give a Thanksgiving Address to and at Onondaga Lake this morning. It was a coordinated effort, coinciding with Suzan Harjo’s “National Sacred Places Prayer Day” in Washington D.C. Present was Onondaga faithkeeper Oren Lyons who gave a short speech afterwards concerning effects of human life upon natural environment. It was a particularly moving talk and one which I had recorded. I did get the chance to meet and speak with Oren after, though, and we will both attempt to meet sometime prior to my trip ending.

Tonight I am attending a fundraiser benefit for the Mohawk community of Kanatsiohareke. Tom Porter will speaking, another man I will attempt to speak to about my topic. In all, it was a very important day in terms of the people met. I’m hoping to work closely with them in my last couple of days here.

I will update tomorrow with any recordings or pictures I can get.

All the best,

RM

The Adirondacks and Six Nations Indian Museum

Hey everybody,

I come to you today extremely tired. The drive to and from the Six Nation Indian Museum, while scenic, is difficult one alone. It was dampened even more so when I learned the museum was closed until July 1st! This put me in a sort of damper, but I contacted my mentor, Dr. Blansett, and he reassured that my drive was not in vain. In his best, go-get-em-tiger style email, he told me not to waste my time in Onchiota and perhaps call John Fadden, the director of the Six Nations Indian Museum directly. So I did. While I patiently waited for his reply, I took the most of my opportunity and visited Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) which offered gorgeous trails through and beautiful views of the Adirondacks. After the break, please look into gander at some of the sights I was blessed to take in as well as Mr. Fadden’s reply.

Read moreThe Adirondacks and Six Nations Indian Museum

Sorry!

Hi everybody,

Sorry I did not post today! I spent the day at a double-header for the Junior ‘B’s and Senior ‘B’s at Onondaga Nation Arena. I promise though tomorrow will have pictures and a proper discussion on the importance of lacrosse within Haudenosaunee culture!

All the best,
RM

On learning the (personal) meaning behind ‘FUSE’

Hi everybody,

Today I had lunch with Onondaga Community College’s Dr. Shawn G. Wiemann. While I do aim to record these conversations later on, I chose to take these first few days to get to know some contacts. Therefore, lunch with Dr. Wiemann was just that. We discussed our academic careers, my research and aspirations, his upcoming wedding, the passion (and practicality) needed for graduate school, and a wide array of other topics.

Dr. Wiemann shared a lot of the same values and beliefs as I do early in his career. It was refreshing to speak on these points together. And, as it is becoming a trend, I was faced with a variety of personal questions. I want to go to graduate school, but do I have the stamina to get my doctorate? How can I market myself to schools and grant committees? Dr. Wiemann also turned a previous question on its head and asked what wanted out of this trip. It was a reflective moment where all of these questions came into a singular thought on what the “FUSE” grant actually meant for me. The grant offered me the opportunity to experience the true scholastic world; it is a foray away from the artificiality of the classroom.

I am learning things about myself that seemed so passive at home. Yes, I want to go to graduate school for Native American and European/American relationships during colonial and early republic America. Yes, I want go on to receive my doctorate, but I understand that it is a marathon and I may have to take a break. The passion is there, but it is not worth fatiguing myself. Although I am soft-spoken, this grant has taught me to assert and put myself out there; my academic work is amazing and it is worth your time and money! It is just as much a personal trip as a research occasion. That is what the FUSE grant means to me. It is this scholarly experience for young adults who haven’t had such an opportunity.

I do not want to take away from the work Dr. Wiemann himself is doing though. While he is extremely knowledgeable about the Haudenosaunee, he expertise lies outside the Six Nations. Dr. Wiemann’s dissertation, Lasting Marks: The Legacy of Robin Cassacinamon and the Survival of the Mashantucket Pequot Nation, included the concept of wampum, but in a culture outside of the Haudenosaunee. It allowed me to see how other nations and peoples looked at a concept so central to the Haudenosaunee and how that may affect my topic. Dr. Wiemann is also extremely involved in community involvement and creating open dialogue between Native and non-Native peoples. His work and contacts in the field of my research will be invaluable for the rest of my time here. It was truly a pleasure meeting him.

The rest of my day was spend wandering and exploring the Syracuse University campus and the city’s downtown center. I felt compelled to soak in some of the history of the city while I was here. It was a good day.

All the best,

RM

Update on a Busy Day

Hey, everybody

Sorry for the short post today. It was a busy day of getting things together for travel and some catching up on reading. I do not want to disappoint though on content, so I created the a bibliography page where you can see what I am reading as well as updating my “About” page with my revised grant proposal. With both tools, you can see where I started! And from there you can more clearly see where I am going.

Tomorrow should be filled with more material. Please stand by!

All the best,

RM

Tightening My Focus

Hi, everyone,

As I relaxed towards the end of my first day in Syracuse, my mind kept coming back to a question I was asked earlier in the day. A local professor with whom I met with for coffee politely, but bluntly, asked why I chose to focus on the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and wampum. I answered nervously, wondering if I could possibly give a “wrong” response. He listened intently and afforded advice where he could. (Which, to be fair, was in a lot of places.) But the question remained: what do I hope to accomplish with this research? Who am I helping? What does this do for both the academic world and the larger public as a whole? This professor asked these questions and forced me to unpack my thesis with intent; scholarship surrounding the Haudenosaunee Confederacy has a complicated relationship with the members of the nations themselves.

Read moreTightening My Focus

And we start!

Hi, everyone,

First and foremost, I want to give a words of thanks: to the Office of Research and Creative Activity of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, my mentor Dr. Kent Blansett, the Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library, along with my friends and family. Without their help, and the Fund for Undergraduate Scholarly Experiences, my plan to research the Haudenosaunee Confederacy on site would have been doomed from the start. I owe each of them my deepest gratitude.

Secondly, I wish to invite everyone to follow this blog as I progress through the next sixteen day, researching in and around upstate New York. With plans to post daily, I will keep this blog updated with video, testimony, oral histories, images, and reflections of my research experience. The digitization of such material will increase its availability to the academic world, students of Indigenous cultures, and the public at large.

In the months following, I will bring the materials listed above, as well as notes from secondary sources, together into a publishable article as a final product of my work. The paper will detail the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s use of oral tradition and wampum in pre-contact, colonial, and modern socio-political eras. I will then (hopefully) present my findings at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Creativity Fair, conferences, and classes.

For now, though, I must settle in to my temporary home and rest. There is much work to be done in the coming days. It would be my pleasure if you followed along.

 

All the best,

RM

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