SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — November is Native American Heritage month in the United States, and in Central New York, indigenous connections are everywhere.
Philip Arnold is the founding director at The Skä•noñh -Great Law of Peace Center in Liverpool. The center is a place to celebrate native culture, which is especially important this month.
“Native American history is American history. We have to ackowledge past mistakes, misdeeds,” Arnold said. “…But also their contributions. The fact that they still are among is a remarkable story.”
Arnold says heritage month is in part understanding that Haudenosaunee culture is still prevalent in our society today. Rooms at The Skä•noñh highlight the indigenous people’s use of corn, the inception of the game of lacrosse and more.
“It blows my mind,” said Linda Hopkins, one of the center’s Thursday visitors. “It’s mind-boggling how much the Native Americans contributed to this country. And it’s unknown.”
Native American heritage month does its part to change that. The Skä•noñh is an Onondaga greeting meaning “peace and wellness.” The building was originally a county facility named “The French Fort.”Arnold helped lead the change to focusing “on telling the story of the native peoples of Central New York.”
“Native American history is American history.”
“We have public school kids going through The Skä•noñh Center, rather than going through the French Fort. So that’s kind of a seed change in terms of getting to the youth,” Arnold said. “Having them grow in appreciation of the region as well as the Haudenosaunee. We’re sort of moving in the right direction.”
The Haudenosaunee story is more than 300 years old and is ingrained in the United States women’s movement, the beginnings of Central New York and much, much more. Native American Heritage month was established in 1990 by the federal government, and Arnold says coming to places like The Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center is a way of honoring native culture.
“I’ve always been attracted to the ideas that they have for maintaing peace and their relationship to mother Earth. We don’t own the Earth. They are part of the land,” Hopkins said.