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SU to honor Native American heritage, culture in November

Syracuse University will celebrate Native Heritage Month throughout November with “wampum and peace” as its key theme.

“The wampum is significant because it was an oral tradition for us. When the first people came in the 1600s, we agreed to live in peace,” said Hugh Burnam, a member of Native American Students at Syracuse and a doctoral student in higher education.

As part of Native Heritage Month, the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign will be giving a presentation titled “Two Row Wampum: Report from the River” on Wednesday, said Regina Jones, assistant director of the Native Student Program at the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Hundreds of native and non-native paddlers traveled from Upstate New York to New York City during the summer to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum Treaty, Jones said. The group will share their experiences through a discussion panel and by showing short films and photographs.

On Friday,native prospective college students are invited to visit SU for Native Outreach Day, Jones said. She added that Terry Jones, the president of NASAS, will showcase and discuss several of his short films on Friday for the opening of the 10th annual Haudenosaunee conference.

“Haudenosaunee directly means ‘People of the Longhouse.’ It was a way to reclaim our origin from the non-native people who labeled us as the Iroquois nation in New York state,” said Terry Jones, a junior film major and member of the Seneca Nation Wolf Clan.

Burnam, a Native American Students at Syracuse member, said the group A Tribe Called Red will perform at the Skybarn on South Campus on Friday. The event will be free and open to the public, and Burnam said he expects students from other local universities to also attend. He described the group’s music as “a mixture of techno, rap, R&B and traditional native songs.”

The last event is the 10th annual Haudenosaunee conference on peace, Jones said, which is on Friday and Saturday.

The goal of these events is to build bridges between the general community and the native community at SU by acknowledging Haudenosaunee culture, Burnam said. He added that there is still not enough visibility and awareness of the native community at Syracuse despite the success of the sponsored events.

“I hope we can eventually have cultural competency training programs for faculty, staff and students. The more we build a relationship with the community, the closer we will get there,” Burnam said.

Terry Jones said a challenge that Native American Students at Syracuse faces is visibility on campus. He explained that only 0.6 percent of SU students are Native American.

Regina Jones said the Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship created in 2006 improved Native American visibility. The scholarship, she said, pays for four years of tuition and housing for first year and transfer Native American students. Regina Jones said that this year, SU had one of the largest classes of students awarded the promise scholarship, which she estimated to be about 30 students.

Said Regina Jones: “With an unprecedented number of students, I think they’re making strides through symposiums, speakers and events.”

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