NLM healing totem journey – about Onondaga, NY

From Chicago, the NLM Healing Totem made the long haul east to Syracuse, NY, home of the Onondaga Nation, the People of the Hills.

Joseph Brant – painting by George Romney 1776 / This portrait of Joseph Brant shows him visiting England at age 33 or 34 when George Romney painted him in his London studio. Brant is shown wearing a white ruffled shirt, an Indian blanket, a silver gorget, a plumed headdress and carrying a tomahawk. The painting is today in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. (Photo and text courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

The Onondaga are members of an alliance of native nations, called the Haudenosaunee (“People of the Long House”), united by shared traditions, beliefs, and culture. They occupy a 7,300-acre territory just south of Syracuse.

Between 1788 and 1822, the Onondaga lost 95 percent of their lands through a series of questionable “takings” by the State of New York.

Joined by the Tuscaroras in 1722, the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Onondaga, established the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations, one of the first and oldest participatory democracies on the North American continent. Some historians suggest this union served as a model for the Founding Fathers as they were crafting the United States Constitution in 1787.

With a homeland that included present-day northern New York between the Hudson and Niagara rivers, and influence that extended from the Ottawa River south to the Chesapeake Bay, and from New England to Illinois in the west, the Haudenosaunee wielded enormous power in colonial America.

During the Revolutionary War, the Iroquois  leader Joseph Brant led Mohawk and colonial loyalists against the American revolutionaries in a brutal struggle along the New York frontier. After the war, Brant relocated with many Onondaga followers and defeated loyalists to Six Nations, Ontario.

Following a tradition of nearly three centuries, a Council of Chiefs governs the Six Nations, and convenes regularly at the Onondaga Nation. The Onondaga Nation is an independent, sovereign government within New York State and continues to maintain traditional cultural values. The Nation does not permit the sale of alcohol and opposes casino and online gaming.


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