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High School Students Learn About Indigenous Peoples with Skä~ñohn Center

This is a photo of four Nottingham girls and a lacrosse stick maker, each holding a lacrosse stick.Juniors at ITC, Nottingham and PSLA at Fowler recently had the opportunity to learn in-depth about Indigenous Peoples, thanks to a partnership with the Skä~ñohn Center.
In the fall, students visited the  Skä~nohn Center on a field trip, where they learned about the Haudenosaunee peoples' culture. They met one of the few remaining wooden lacrosse stick makers in the world, Alf Jacques, and were given a demonstration about the role of lacrosse in Haudenosaunee culture. They also had a discussion with Cayuga artist Tom Huff, who spoke with students about stereotypes.
“The trip to Skä~nohn was amazing,” Nottingham Social Studies teacher Don Little explained. “The students loved watching the lacrosse stick maker, and it was meaningful for them to learn about the history of the Haudenosaunee and the people of our region. It was a powerful start to the school year. We should all be taking advantage of the fact that we have experts in the history of our community, and we should appreciate the rich tradition that is Haudenosaunee culture.”
More recently, staff from Witness to Injustice visited the students in their classrooms to guide them through a two-hour interactive exercise to teach more in depth about the Indigenous peoples who were in Native America before European contact. Called the Witness to Injustice/KAIROS Blanket Exercise, the activity is intended to help develop an understanding and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. By examining meaningful quotes and blankets that represent part of Turtle Island, students learned more about the European colonization of the area.
“Our hope is that the students who took part in this program gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the culture, government, and world view of the Haudenosaunee people, the original people here where we live, and who still live here,” Witness to Injustice Coordinator Cindy Squillace explained. “We hope that the students become familiar with some of the language original to this land, and that they grow to understand and respect the sovereignty of our close neighbors of the Onondaga Nation. Another important goal is to have them learn a more in depth history of how the land in Central NY and indeed on the North American continent changed from being populated with millions of indigenous people before 1600 to hundreds of millions of people from other parts of the world today.  We saw that many of the students whose families arrived as refugees identified with the story they were hearing about this land and the original people here.”
What a wonderful opportunity to help students become more familiar with the history of the area while becoming #SCSDCivicReady!
Anthony Q. Davis, Superintendent
725 Harrison Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
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