NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
Tompkins County is located in the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ' (Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ (Guy-uh-KO-no) "People from the Swampy Land", are one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (sometimes referred to as Iroquois). Tompkins County was also home to the native nations adopted by the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’; Saponinis and the Tutelos, who fled to this region in the mid 1700's, escaping colonization by European immigrants father south. We recognize the continuing presence of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ on this land and respect their long stewardship and history in the Finger Lakes region.
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick with Brandon Lazore (Onondaga) and Lazore's design for the Two Row Renewal Mural located on Green Street in downtown Ithaca. 2013.
Two and a half miles north of Robert H. Treman State Park, is the Town of Ithaca’s Tutelo Park, which honors the nearby 18th century town of Coreorgonel (Translation: Where We Keep the Pipe of Peace). Coreorgonel was settled in the mid 1700's by the Tutelos who had fled British Euro-colonial intrusion in their homelands of modern-day Virginia. The Tutelos were subsequently adopted by the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ'. In 1779 the scorched earth Sullivan-Clinton Campaign ordered by General George Washington destroyed twenty five or more Tutelo houses, and extensive croplands at their town of Coreorgonel. American soldiers diaries do not record loss of life at the burning of Coreorgonel. It is assumed that the Tutelos and Saponinis who had lived in the community escaped and joined other Haudenosaunee refugees fleeing the genocidal campaign that burned more than forty villages across New York State displacing tens of thousands of Haudenosaunee from their homelands.
From 1993-1996, Cornell landscape Architecture professor Sherene Baugher and local city planner George Frantz conducted an archaeological study of Inlet Valley to identify and preserve Native American sites, although the exact location of the Tutelos village site was not found.
On September 23rd, 2006, Tutelo Park was established in Inlet Valley. The opening ceremony, attended by surviving Tutelo elders, included a memorial to the Tutelos, storytelling, performances from the Haudenosaunee singers and dancers, and other Native American crafts, workshops, activities, and food. The celebration was an expansion on the annual relighting of the sacred Tutelo Council Fire, which represents a symbolic return of the Tutelo to the Inlet Valley.
In 1986 President Reagan proclaimed November 23rd-30th "American Indian Week." This week of recognition of the Indigenous nations of North America was celebrated in September in 1988, and December in 1989. In 1990 President George H. Bush extended the celebration to the full month of November naming it National American Indian Heritage Month, although it is more commonly referred to as Native American Heritage Month.
PROGRAMS & PRESENTATIONS ABOUT INDIGENOUS HISTORY IN TOMPKINS COUNTY
For pronunciation of the names of the original inhabitants of the Ithaca area, Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' is approximately Guy-yo-KO-no and Haudenosaunee is approximately Ho-di-no-SO-ni*. Cayuga or Kayuga is considered an anglicization (English-derived) of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ'. Please listen to Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' language teacher Stephen Henhawk’s pronunciation in this video associated the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' language course he taught at Cornell.
The History Center uses the spellings and terms for the Indigenous peoples of this region currently most in use by the traditional leadership of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ'*. The previous common-place name used to represent the Six Nations, "Iroquois", is believed to be a gallicized (French-derived) word from a Huron/Algonquian word which translates to "Black Snakes" or "real adders". It is interpreted by some as a derogatory term used during a period when the Huron and Haudenosaunee were warring, and was not a term the Haudenosaunee used to describe themselves. Haudenosaunee translates to "People building an extended house" or "People of the Longhouse" and describes both the traditional structures the Six Nations lived in, and a representation of the original agreement of their Confederacy (Hiawatha Belt); learn more about the use of Haudenosaunee vs. Iroquois in this video from New York State Museum.
*Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' and Haudenosaunee are both words originating in the Iroquoian family linguistic group and may have subtle differences in pronunciation in different dialects. They may also be presented with a variety of spellings in the Roman alphabet. Here are some examples: Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' - also: Guyohkohnyoh, Goiaconyo, Goiacono, Kwĕñio’ gwĕn; Haudenosaunee - also: Hodinǫ̱hsǫ́:nih, Hodinöhsö:ni’, Hodinoshoni, Hodenosaunee, Hodenushonnees.
PRESENTATIONS & ONLINE LEARNING RESOURCES ABOUT THE HAUDENOSAUNEE
LESSON PLANS FOR NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE & HISTORY
LEARN ABOUT THE HAUDENOSAUNEE/IROQUOIS
Visit The History Center in Tompkins County and explore our items on display on loan from multiple nations in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the collaborative creation story video at the entrance to our Timeline Tunnel exhibit. Explore our Haudenosaunee History playlist on YouTube for added video learning resources.
Visit Ganondagan State Historic Site and Seneca Art & Culture Center in Victor NY. Ganondagan State Historic Site located in Victor, NY is a National Historic Landmark, the only New York State Historic Site dedicated to a Native American theme (1987), and the only Seneca town developed and interpreted in the United States. Spanning 569 acres, Ganondagan (ga·NON·da·gan) is the original site of a 17th century Seneca town, that existed there peacefully more than 350 years ago. The culture, art, agriculture, and government of the Seneca people influenced our modern understanding of equality, democratic government, women’s rights, ecology and natural foods.
Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave NY is closed to the public until April 2021. Explore their digitized online collections, Research Library, and virtual field trips. The Iroquois Indian Museum is an educational institution dedicated to fostering understanding of Iroquois culture using Iroquois art as a window to that culture. The Museum is a venue for promoting Iroquois art and artists, and a meeting place for all peoples to celebrate Iroquois culture and diversity. As an anthropological institution, it is informed by research on archaeology, history, and the common creative spirit of modern artists and craftspeople.
Virtual Tours - Iroquois Indian Museum
Seneca-Iroquois Museum in Salamanca NY proudly houses an extensive collection of Hodinöhsö:ni’ historical and traditionally designed decorative and every-day-use items and archaeological artifacts. SINM, along with the Seneca Nation Archives Department, are the safe keepers of historical documents, including articles, special publications, historical and family photographs and various multi-media productions regarding the Onöndowa’ga:’ and Hodinöhsö:ni’.
Virtual Tours and Educational videos – Seneca Iroquois National Museum