Saturday, October 24, 2015

Proud Nation

G. Peter Jemison
( in deep blue with red headdress )
smiles with friends at the opening of 
Seneca Art & Culture Center

After years of development, with the help of public and private funding, we now have a new destination, the Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan in Victor, New York.  We made our way over to the new building on a grey day  in October to celebrate the opening of this large gallery devoted to telling the story of the Haudenosaunee cultures as they are today, and as they have evolved with other native people in this region over centuries.  There is a rich complex history told thru artifacts and personal testimony which promises to be a very important teaching tool for the young and old alike.

A diorama of the original settlement at Ganondagan

There was a very good turnout for the opening - and if you go - stop in to see the "Iroquois Creation Story" which is an animated short film and it will provide some orientation for you in regard to some major symbolic figures from Native American mythology.  This is a unique project from Ganondagan, Garth Fagan Dance, and R.I.T.'s School of Film & Animation, all spearheaded by G. Peter Jemison who is an ardent supporter and prime mover of the Seneca Art & Culture Center.

A cutaway model of the Longhouse
in the main exhibition gallery

G. Peter Jemison is a fine artist and he has promoted this idea of having a new building to house a collection which could be used to express the history of native peoples in upstate New York, and he has realized his wishes to put this institution on the map.  When you step into the exhibition area, you have a story that unfolds about the clans that the French called: "Iroquois".  You get a sense for what they needed to survive in a difficult time just after Europeans began to settle in what were then tribal lands.

Informative graphics on exhibition

The Seneca Art & Culture Center is a museum and gift shop, it is a meeting house, and an education center, there is an Auditorium, and all of this exists to promote understanding and respect for a shared history.  

There is also a wall devoted to a controversy that engaged popular attention over native American Lacrosse players traveling on native passports to attend a championship match in Europe, and the denial of their ability to play because their sovereign nation issued passports weren't recognized.

Recent skirmish for Lacrosse players
is documented here

A large section of the exhibition space is dedicated to a model of a Longhouse, and a visitor can go for a walk outside to see a real Longhouse with commanding views of the hills around Victor, New York.

You can get a real feel for the land around here, and for a first visit there is much to see and learn.  One is urged to read more about this place, and come back to see how they have truly realized this dream.

An important milestone is reached with the opening of the
Seneca Art & Culture Center