The Ecology and History of Onondaga Lake:
Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address as a pathway to stewardship education in the Onondaga Lake Watershed
Skä-noñh – Great Law of Peace Center
6680 Onondaga Lake Parkway, Liverpool
Background and description of the project
“We are thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life…”
The Thanksgiving Address begins every formal gathering of the Haudenosaunee people. In it, the speaker and listeners acknowledge the critical importance of earth, sun, water, birds, fish, medicinal plants, and other natural phenomena, including people, and affirm a relationship of gratitude and obligation to them all.
Our purpose is to explore and test a new curriculum about scientific and traditional ecological knowledge, focusing on Onondaga Lake and structured around the Thanksgiving Address and its values of gratitude and reciprocity. Participants will try out lesson plans, explore field trip locations, and brainstorm potential projects that could extend the learning outcomes to their schools or colleges.
This project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Environmental Education Program.
Applications will be accepted for sub-grants for the coming school year, to implement the curriculum, take students on field trips to the lake, and develop related projects at their schools or colleges – Mini Grants
The Team and Consultants
Philip Arnold, Associate Professor and Chairman of Religion, Syracuse University, and Director, Skä-noñh – Great Law of Peace Center
Rachel May, Sustainability Education Coordinator, Syracuse University
Robin Kimmerer, Professor, Environmental and Forest Biology and Director, Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, SUNY-ESF
Elizabeth Folta, Assistant Professor, Environmental and Forest Biology, SUNY-ESF
Freida Jacques, Onondaga Nation School, Turtle Clan mother, Onondaga Nation
Neil Patterson, Assistant Director, Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, SUNY-ESF and Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force
Percy Abrams, Linguistics Instructor, Syracuse University, Member of Eel Clan of the Onondaga Nation
Jack Manno, Professor, Environmental Studies, SUNY-ESF
Catherine Landis, Ph.D. candidate in Environmental and Forest Biology, SUNY-ESF
Tom Mackey, Ph.D. candidate in Environmental and Forest Biology, SUNY-ESF
Videos of presentations at our Aug. 2 workshop:
- Tadodaho Sid Hill, explaining the Thanksgiving Address
- Betty Lyons, on the American Indian Law Alliance
- Percy Abrams, on Iroquois linguistics
- Freida Jacques, on the significance of the Thanksgiving Address
- Neil Patterson, on traditional and scientific ecological knowledge
- Catherine Landis, on the historical ecology of Onondaga Lake
Eames-Sheavly, M., and Cornell Cooperative Extension. 1993. The three sisters: exploring an Iroquois garden. Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, N.Y.
Manno, J., R. Kimmerer, F. Jacques, T. Joyal. 2006. The past, present, and future of the Onondaga way of life: draft document. ENS 696 Onondaga Land Rights and Our Common Future class, SUNY ESF.
Kimmerer, Robin Wall. 2013. Braiding sweetgrass: scientific knowledge, indigenous wisdom, and the teachings of plants.
Ransom, J. 1992. Words that come before all else: environmental philosophies of the Haudenosaunee. Native North American Traveling College, New York.
NOON. 2014. Neighbor to neighbor, nation to nation: readings about the relationship of the Onondaga Nation with Central New York, USA. Various authors; published by Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, Syracuse, NY. Revised and expanded 2014.