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Spencer Lyons, an Onondaga Chief and curator of heritage seeds, will visit SUNY Oswego to give a talk titled "Understanding the Haudenosaunee through their Traditional Media." The Haudenosaunee people are the traditional Indigenous people of the land now known as New York state. Throughout their history, they have used many forms of media to encode and enshrine their world views and way of life as a way to pass knowledge down from generation to generation. There are many levels in which the Haudenosaunee express their culture and traditions through media which include interpersonal relationships, their governance systems and their spiritual connection to the world around them.


Traditional Haudenosaunee media can take many forms. Wampum strings and belts can represent various internal and external agreements involving other historic and current political entities. Traditional media can also include ceremonial and social songs and dances, as well as mnemonic pictographs and drawings on various utilitarian items. This also includes the historical usage of traditional tattoos used to portray one’s life story, accomplishments or responsibilities. Their traditional media serves to tell their stories and reaffirm their connection to all things around them.


Today’s world inundated humans with technology and social media platforms, where media forms are ever-evolving. This is also true for the traditional Haudenosaunee and their various media forms, but the basic principle remains the same, which is the self-expression of who the Haudenosaunee are. Through their own efforts, the Haudenosaunee continue to practice their traditional life ways and work to revitalize and restore areas of tradition and culture that have been severely and negatively impacted by colonization and assimilation. Engaging with the Haudenosaunee and understanding their world view creates an opportunity for participants to understand themselves and their own relationship to each other and the world around them.

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