Learning and Living Together Under the Great Law of Peace
December 16, 2022
In the Spring of 2022, several members of the Syracuse University community received a grant from Interfaith America.
Led by Diane Schenandoah of the Barnes Center, Diane Swords of the Intergroup Dialogue Program, chaplains from Hendricks Chapel, and others from various departments of the university, this grant supported four Witness to Injustice experiential workshops and an April dialogue that allowed participants to reflect on the experience and suggest next steps. Witness to Injustice is a unique and powerful two-to-three-hour interactive group teaching tool. It uses participatory education to foster truth, understanding, and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the part of the world now known as the United States; especially in the territory stewarded by people of the Onondaga Nation and other Haudenosaunee peoples. The spring events generated ideas for continuing these projects into the 2022-23 academic year.
“The time for healing is upon us as human beings. Our spiritual and societal health as a whole has come to a precipice. Our love of one another needs to be brought to the forefront of our consciousness.” These words by Diane Schenandoah, Faithkeeper of the Oneida Nation Wolf Clan and Honwadiyenawa’sek (One Who Helps Them) at Syracuse University’s Barnes Center, continue to inspire further efforts to share wisdom, spirituality, and history of the Haudenosaunee.
Towards this, a second grant funded by Interfaith America is supporting the current year’s initiative which involves three activities: a 10-minute video for first-year students that was shown during new student orientation; at least two more WTI events; and trips for members of our SU community to the Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center about 6 miles from campus. A core commitment of this year’s activities is to engage SU administrators in participating in and promoting these events and efforts.
- The Witness to Injustice / KAIROS Blanket Exercise™ at Syracuse University is facilitated by a team made up of citizens of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and non-native allies from Syracuse Peace Council’s Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation Committee (NOON). The most recent WTI exercise took place at Hendricks Chapel on November 4.
- The video, “Where Are Your Feet,” introduces students, staff, and faculty to the reality that we are all visitors here, inhabiting land with a very long history, and to a people indigenous to that land. The video remains available for showing and is being developed further this year.
- The Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center is a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Heritage Center focused on telling the story of the native peoples of central New York. This third piece of the project includes providing transportation for students and other SU community members to experience Haudenosaunee spirituality, culture, and history.
American Civic Life
American Civic Life
Schenandoah writes, “Our confederacy formed under the principles of the Great Laws of Peace and is the oldest participatory democracy on Earth. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s constitution was the model for the American Constitution. Our unique governmental principles blend our natural laws and spiritual laws together. This is essential to our foundation, along with the duties to care for and make all decisions based upon the highest good of the coming seven generations. Spirituality is a central part of our lives, and we are related to all living beings and have been given the duty to care for and nurture one another.”