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Wampum: A Living Tradition

Le wampum, une tradition vivante
Peter Jemison, Jamie Jacobs et Michael Galban
p. 118-131
Traduction(s) :
Le wampum, une tradition vivante [fr]

Résumés

Le présent texte est issu d’une colla-boration entre les Hodinöhsö:ni’ (ou Haudenosaunee), longtemps appelés Iroquois, et le musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac. L’histoire des relations entre les musées et les peuples autochtones est jalonnée d’erreurs d’interprétation et d’idées fausses. Connaître le savoir traditionnel des peuples autochtones est crucial pour comprendre la manière dont ils sont susceptibles d’appréhender une exposition ou un objet matériel. Dans certaines nations, par exemple celle des Hodinöhsö:ni’, les porteurs culturels peuvent compter sur une tradition forte, codifiée et inscrite dans la continuité, fixant la manière d’en transmettre le contenu à la génération suivante.

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Texte intégral

1The shells of the quahog clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) and the lightning whelk (Sinistrofulgur perversum) may not strike you as the ancient use of a binary system. However, they did form a language for the Hodinöhsö:ni’, or Iroquois Confederacy. The purple of the quahog sometimes called black and the white of the lightning whelk when fashioned into beads by Algonquian-speaking Native Americans, were assembled into wampum belts by Hodinöhsö:ni’.

Fig. 1. Richard David Hamell, Reproduction of the One Dish One Spoon Wampum Belt. Plastic beads imitating wampum, leather, vegetable fibers, 8.3 × 72.4 cm.

Fig. 1. Richard David Hamell, Reproduction of the One Dish One Spoon Wampum Belt. Plastic beads imitating wampum, leather, vegetable fibers, 8.3 × 72.4 cm.

Photo courtesy of Peter Jemison

Fig. 2. Hodinosohni’ leaders on the 200th Anniversary of the Canandaigua Treaty on November 11th 1994.

Fig. 2. Hodinosohni’ leaders on the 200th Anniversary of the Canandaigua Treaty on November 11th 1994.

Left to Right: Chief Bernie Parker, Seneca Nation, Jay Clause, Tuscarora Nation, Chief Leo Henry, Tuscarora Nation (holding George Washington Belt) Chief Irving Powless, Onondaga Nation, Thadoda:ho Leon Shenandoah, Onondaga Nation, Chief Emerson Webster, Seneca Nation, (holding George Washington Belt) Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation.

Photo by Mike Greenlar, 1994. Photo courtesy of Mike Greenlar.

Fig. 3. Mel Chin, in collaboration with Peter Jemison, Signal, 1997. Installation at the Broadway-Lafayette Street Subway station in New York. Commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts & Design.

Fig. 3. Mel Chin, in collaboration with Peter Jemison, Signal, 1997. Installation at the Broadway-Lafayette Street Subway station in New York. Commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts & Design.

Photo MTA Arts & Design/Rob Wilson. Courtesy of the artist/Thomas Rehbein Galerie, Cologne.

2These belts became mnemonic devices used to preserve important messages — they are a visual record of an idea which can be “read.” Hodinöhsö:ni’ men were trained to memorize the meaning and to read the belts when agreements or messages were exchanged with those who didn’t speak Hodinöhsö:ni’ languages. The wampum belts were used during treaty making; one important example is referred to as the George Washington Covenant Belt or simply the George Washington Belt (Fig. 4). This wampum belt is identified with the Canandaigua Treaty. It was negotiated in 1794 by Timothy Pickering representing the United States and the chiefs of the Six Nations Hodinöhsö:ni’, when they met to bring about peace and friendship following the American Revolution. The belt was commissioned by George Washington and assembled by two Oneida women circa 1792. Today a reproduction of this belt is carried by a Hodinöhsö:ni’ Chief every year on November 11 when the Canandaigua aka Pickering Treaty is commemorated in Canandaigua, New York.

Fig. 4. Presentation of the George Washington Covenant Wampum Belt at the Onondaga Nation Longhouse after its return from the Albany Institute of History and Art in 1989.

Fig. 4. Presentation of the George Washington Covenant Wampum Belt at the Onondaga Nation Longhouse after its return from the Albany Institute of History and Art in 1989.

From left to right: Thadoda:ho Leon Shenandoah, Chief Irving Powless, and Faithkeeper Oren Lyons.

Photo by Mike Greenlar, 1989.Photo courtesy of Mike Greenlar.

  • 1 Name of a powerful Onondaga chief in mythical times (editors’ note).
  • 2 The founding myth of the Iroquois League tells of the cultural hero Hiawatha who, with the support (...)

3The Ha:yëwënta’ Wampum Belt, or Hiawatha1 Belt, is another example of a belt created to symbolize a message, in this case the Great Law that united the Five Nations into a Confederacy: they are the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. We are united by a message of peace and friendship symbolized by the line of white outlining and connecting the Five Nations. In the center is a tree-like form representing the Onondaga Nation; to the right are the Oneida and Mohawk; and to the left are the Cayuga and Seneca. They are represented on a field of purple beads symbolizing the time of conflict when the message of peace was brought by our Peacemaker2 to unify the Five Nations. The ancient wisdom of our people must live on today. To achieve a consciousness of this knowledge we have created modern forms. A facsimile of this wampum belt has been created to represent a flag for the Hodinöhsö:ni’. It has become a ubiquitous symbol of the Iroquois Confederacy, found on bumper stickers, hats, T-shirts, and uniforms of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team. The creation of these forms was not enough — our Chiefs decided the message of peace had to be heard again to guide our future generations. This has occurred through readings of the Great Law throughout the territories of our Nations. The image and use of the Ha:yëwënta’ Belt are now a symbol of Hodinöhsö:ni’ sovereignty. This belt was first created prior to the Tuscarora joining the Confederacy in 1723. Today we are Six Nations united by the message of peace.

4A unique new wampum belt has been created for Ireland’s lacrosse team. The Iroquois Nationals did not receive an invitation to participate in the upcoming World Lacrosse Games in 2022. In support of the Iroquois, the Irish team gave up its spot to assure that the Hodinöhsö:ni’ will be represented at the games. After all, it was the Hodinöhsö:ni’ who gave lacrosse to the world, surely they should have been invited. To thank Ireland’s lacrosse team a Two Row Wampum Belt will be presented to the team’s representatives. This two-row design was first used in 1613 when an agreement was struck between the Mohawk and the Dutch, allowing them to establish trading posts in Mohawk territory along the Hudson River. The Iroquois Nationals issued the following statement: “You have gone above and beyond not only for us, but for what you believe is right. Your actions have spoken louder than words showing everyone the true power of sport and the spirit of lacrosse.”

5The wampum belts of the Hodinöhsö:ni’ resonate today because we use them just as we did when they were created 200, 400, or even 1,000 years ago. Today they are living examples of cultural patrimony that remain meaningful. Many of the wampum belts were recently returned to our Wampum Keepers because of a United States Federal Law permitting repatriation from museums which held them. We have since then been discovering and retaining the messages they embody. Various friends and members of our communities have made reproductions of the wampum belts for our use in public settings. As described above, one such example is the George Washington Belt, which has been incorporated into the commemoration of the Canandaigua Treaty.

6There is another use for wampum that is not secular. We will describe this use next as it exists within the context of our Öngwe’öwehka:a’ (Our Way of Life). Wampum in this context has a protocol — it is used in a specific way and has a particular meaning dependent on the context. Certain men within our communities have been given responsibilities based on their training to carry out the required protocol. One such instance is the issuance of a formal invitation to attend a gathering. Using wampum to indicate that a “true message” is being delivered, a “runner” will visit a community with a specific purpose. Here the language that is used will be one of our Hodinöhsö:ni’ languages; the wording is important to avoid misunderstanding. After the invitation is delivered, a formal response is expected from the recipient of the invitation.

7Among other topics concerning wampum which should be discussed are: the Iroquois Nationals’ use of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt (Fig. 1) image when they traveled to Israel and their efforts in 2019 to promote unity and peace by holding a lacrosse clinic for Israeli and Palestinian youth. Sharing the game of lacrosse, a gift from our Creator now played around the world.

  • 3 Territory of the Wasco and Paiute Nations in Oregon.
  • 4 Thadoda:ho is a title of an Onondaga hereditary chief.
  • 5 Each nation of the Iroquois League had its own council fire, a place where a fire was lit before th (...)

8In 1993, I created along with artist Mel Chin a wampum belt design for the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City, which adorns the wall of the Broadway-Lafayette Subway station (Fig. 3). The design came from a dream that was read for me by a member of the Warm Springs Reservation3 community in Oregon twenty-six years ago. The mural was created with permission from the late Leon Schenandoah, a Thadoda:ho.4 He was the Head Fire Keeper, his Onondaga Nation being the one holding the Central Fire5 for the Hodinöhsö:ni’. It represents six figures with outstretched arms linked together in unity holding onto our Hodinöhsö:ni’ traditions, even in these trying times. The mural is now twenty-three years old and continues to mean more to me over time.

Wampum as a metaphor of peace – Michael Galban

9Wampum beads fulfill many functions for the Hodinöhsö:ni’ people in ceremonial contexts. The latter have a long history of using physical objects to represent ideas and concepts. Oral history tells us that eagle feather quills and elderberry shoots were once used like shell wampum beads (Gibson 1992: 328-329). According to the story of the Peacemaker, who unified the Five Nations of the Hodinöhsö:ni’, shells were strung on strings which were used to “lift up” and “straighten” the mind of Hiawatha who grieved over the loss of his family. Hiawatha would then become a helper to the Peacemaker and, with the help of a woman known as “The Mother of Nations,” they would bring about a peace between the five original nations that would last for centuries (Wallace 1968). Hence the beads are an object imbued with the power to heal and to bring back light to a person or a community or even a Nation.

10The quahog clam lives in the waters that border Northeastern North America. A bivalved animal, only a small portion of the shell is suitable for the dark purple-colored bead. The other species used to produce wampum is the whelk. Other species of whelk snail were used to produce the white beads, but the lightning whelk (Sinistrofulgur perversum) was the most common. It is interesting to note that this whelk is unique among its species because the shell is left coiling (sinistral). They grow outward in a counterclockwise or “left-handed” spiral. Almost every other whelk shell is dextral or “right-handed.” Hodinöhsö:ni’ culture prioritizes counterclockwise movement, particularly in the realm of dance. All Hodinöhsö:ni’ social dances and the majority of ceremonial dances are performed sinistrally, for example. It is also notable that whelk predates on bivalves such as the quahog clam. They use their strong “foot” to pry open the bivalve and then they remove the quahog with their proboscis. Allegorical or incidental, the “white shell” creature consumes the “purple shell” producing creature, a metaphor for peace.

11One of the earliest documenters of Hodinöhsö:ni’ culture was Father Lafitau, who made many important observations concerning culture and customs at the beginning of the eighteenth century. He spent much of his time in North America among the Kahnawake Mohawk people, but mentioned early on in his text that “It is, I say, in my association with this virtuous missionary [Father Julian Garnier] with whom I had a close relationship that I have gleaned all that I have to say about the Indians.” (Lafitau 1724) Garnier was stationed with the Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca people for much of his missionary time. Lafitau observed the important cultural significance of shell wampum among the Hodinöhsö:ni’. He saw its value as a sacred mode of communication but also that it would become the necessary and standard protocol by which all international business would be conducted.

The Indians think that no matter of business can be concluded without [wampum] belts of this sort. If any proposal is made them or answer given by word of mouth, the affair falls, as they say, and they, indeed, let it fall as if there had never been any question of it.
(ibid.: 507)

12However, the colonial Europeans failed to grasp the importance of wampum and Lafitau goes on to say that because the Europeans would not respond with proper wampum belts the Hodinöhsö:ni’ began to limit the size, quantity, and quality of their belts when dealing with the Colonials. This misunderstanding and cultural blind spot still exists today as Hodinöhsö:ni’ people are continually having to explain the cultural weight placed on wampum even today.

It brings them by the arm. The use of wampum in present times – Jamie Jacobs

13The proper Seneca term for an “invitation wampum” is Yötnëshadiyödahgwa’ (yot nes ha dee yon da gwa). It translates as “she/they use it to pull the arm.” The Iroquois language is quite unique in the fact that verbs and nouns can be incorporated into a single word. The person performing the action, or the subject, is also combined along with an aspect suffix to give us a very descriptive word resulting in a complete sentence when translated into the English language. This forces the listener to think more deeply and quickly about the content to which he or she is listening. “Pulling the arm” is a literal action in which one invites or moves an individual from one location to another. The Haudenosaunee have a history of speaking in metaphors — the literal meaning has to sometimes be reinterpreted by the listener to understand what the speaker is “really saying.” French Jesuit Jean Brébeuf made the following statement about the Iroquoian language in the seventeenth century:

It is true that their speeches are at first very difficult to understand, on account of an infinity of Metaphors, of various circumlocutions, and other rhetorical methods: for example, speaking of the Nation of the Bear they will say, “the Bear has said, has done so and so; the Bear is cunning, is bad; the hands of the Bear are dangerous.” When they speak of him who conducts the feast of the Dead, they say “he who eats souls;” when they speak of a Nation, they often name only the principal Captain,—thus, speaking of the Montagnets [Montagnais], they will say, “Atsirond says:” this is the name of one of their Captains. In short, it is in these places they dignify their style of language, and try to speak well. Almost all their minds are naturally of very good quality; they reason very clearly, and do not stumble in their speeches; and so they make a point of mocking those who trip; some seem to be born orators.
(JR 1897 [1636]: 256-258)

14Considering most Jesuits were highly educated in the reading and writing of the various languages of Europe, this is a powerful statement. All individuals could read and write Latin and most definitely the language of France.

15The “invitation stick” used by the Iroquois has been used since time immemorial and dates back further than we are able to remember. We are told in oral traditional thought that the first ceremonial use of the invitation wampum was instituted by the one who confederated the original Five Nations, known only as the “Peacemaker.” He stated that:

  • 6 As stated by Peter Jemison and Jamie Jacobs (editors’ note).

When the Onondaga Nation is to call the four member nations to a Grand Council, a short strand of wampum will be carried by a runner and delivered to the Sachem Chiefs of the nation as a call to the grand meeting. We will call (list) the number of sleeps in which the meeting will take place and notch them into a small wooden staff that the wampum will be tied to. This observance will be so that the Creator of beings will know that his people are carrying out the responsibilities that he appointed to these noble leaders.6

16This practice is still performed to this very day. The Onondaga Nation still sends men known as “runners” to the leaders of what is now the Six Nations, and they deliver an “invitation stick” along with words of thanksgiving and the subjects which will be deliberated upon when the leaders gather as one at the central fire. The “runners”— so called because in the ancient days before the invention of the automobile the men had to literally run to the territory where they delivered the actual message — would arrive at their destination and wait at the edge of the woods along the briars. They would make a fire and brandish smoke in the air, thereby notifying the people within the village that they had arrived and were waiting to be escorted into the village. The chiefs would appoint a couple of young men to make contact with them and escort them safely before their council. An opening address would be made notifying the gathered crowd of the purpose of the meeting and the runners would be “brushed” off from head to toe. The term “brushing them off” refers in the literal sense to the act of removing any thistles from their bodies and stones that may have stuck to their feet during their journey. This act of compassion would be concluded with a drink of fresh water to douse their throats in preparation for their speech. Once again, this protocol was a literal act that was performed in the ancient days of our ancestors; today the speech is still made, but the act of physically wiping down the runners’ bodies is not actually performed. Once the runners have watered their bodies, they deliver the address and force from their mouths the words that they were instructed to say to the invited nation. They begin by addressing the chiefs and clan mothers first. They tell them that the leaders who are present in the village they originate from send them greetings and that they hope they are in good health when they receive the message. They then address the ceremonial leaders, known as “Faith Keepers,” and tell them the same thing: that the “Faith Keepers” from their home village send their “Faith Keepers” greetings and hope they are in good health when they receive the message. The next parties to be addressed are the group of men and women who have no leadership or ceremonial obligations, and then the children are addressed last. Once all levels of people are addressed, the speaker then announces the number of nights or sleeps in which the invited nation is to arrive at the Central fire for the Grand Council. Today they will often name the month and day, but in ancient times it was expressed as the number of nights. The notches that are carved on the short wooden stick correlate to this number of nights and it is said that in the “old days” when a night would pass one notch would be broken off until the very last one, which would be the indication that on that last surviving notch the invited nation should be present in the territory of the Onondaga Nation for the meeting. Once the speeches have been delivered, the invited nation will then usher the runners to one side, giving them privacy to discuss any concerns or issues that are to be sent back to them for rediscussion. If they are all in agreement that the message is to be accepted then they call them before the council once again, and the invited nation appoints a speaker on their behalf to send greetings home with them and to tell them they accept all the information that has been delivered. They ask the “Holder of Heavens” to ensure that the runners have a safe journey home and give thanks that our cultural ways are still surviving. On the arrival of the invited nation in Onondaga territory, they carry the invitation stick to the meeting and a speech of protocol is delivered to return it back to the hosting nation. The words and speech are the same, but at the end of this speech they thank the Great Creator that they were able to make it to the meeting in safety and good health. Once all invited nations have “reported in” and all invitation sticks are accounted for and returned, the meeting can begin.

Fig. 5. Study session of the wampum collection held at the Musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac.

Fig. 5. Study session of the wampum collection held at the Musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac.

From left to right: Katsitsionni Fox, Iakonikonriiosta, Tonia Galban, Michael Galban, Jamie Jacobs, Peter Jemison), November 13th 2021.

Photo Alice Sidone.

17We are very fortunate that our ancestors kept this tradition alive and are ever grateful that these protocols are still surviving for us to perpetuate. The feeling that someone or a nation went through this long process just to invite someone else or another nation just adds to the feeling that, even though some issues may be contentious, we are all related to creation and that the exhaustive work of deliberation is for the benefit of all levels of people that were mentioned in the invitation speech.

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Bibliographie

Fenton, William N.

1998 The Great Law and the Longhouse: A Political History of the Iroquois Confederacy. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press.

Gibson, John Arthur

1992 [1912] Concerning the League: The Iroquois League Tradition as Dictated in Onondaga, translated from Onondaga and edited by Hanni Woodbury et al. Winnipeg, Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics.

Hale, Horatio

1881 Hiawatha and the Iroquois Confederation: A study in Anthropology. Salem (Massachusetts),Salem Press.

Lafitau, Joseph-François

1724 Mœurs des sauvages amériquains, comparées aux mœurs des premiers temps. Paris, Saugrain l’aîné/Hochereau, Part I: 3.

JR, Jesuit Relations

1897 [1636] The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610-1791: The Original French, Latin, and Italian Texts, with English Translations and Notes, vol. 10, Reuben Gold Thwaites (ed.). Cleveland, The Burrow Brothers Co.

Wallace, Paul Anthony Wilson

1968 The White Roots of Peace. Port Washington, Friedmann

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Notes

1 Name of a powerful Onondaga chief in mythical times (editors’ note).

2 The founding myth of the Iroquois League tells of the cultural hero Hiawatha who, with the support of Chief Dekanawidah (Deganawi:dah), the Great Peacemaker, brought a message of peace to unite the Five Nations. To achieve this unity, the four Nations of the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga and Seneca joined forces to convince the despotic Onondaga chief Atotarho (Thadoda:ho) to join the Confederacy. He refused several times before agreeing to make his nation the center of the League and to be responsible for the communal council fire or Great Fire. Dekanawidah (Deganawi:dah) pacifies Atotarho (Thadoda: ho) by offering white wampum which is therefore closely associated with all political manifestations of the Iroquois League (Hale 1881: 10ff..) [editors’ note].

3 Territory of the Wasco and Paiute Nations in Oregon.

4 Thadoda:ho is a title of an Onondaga hereditary chief.

5 Each nation of the Iroquois League had its own council fire, a place where a fire was lit before the chiefs engaged in discussing matters affecting the nation. In addition, the Five then Six Nations Iroquois had a communal fire in Onondaga, the capital of the League. This is where the fifty chiefs met to discuss important decisions and where the communal wampum belts were kept, under the responsibility of the Onondaga chiefs (Hale 1881: 8ff.; Fenton 1998: 61ff.) [editors’ note].

6 As stated by Peter Jemison and Jamie Jacobs (editors’ note).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1. Richard David Hamell, Reproduction of the One Dish One Spoon Wampum Belt. Plastic beads imitating wampum, leather, vegetable fibers, 8.3 × 72.4 cm.
Crédits Photo courtesy of Peter Jemison
URL http://journals.openedition.org/gradhiva/docannexe/image/6265/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 492k
Titre Fig. 2. Hodinosohni’ leaders on the 200th Anniversary of the Canandaigua Treaty on November 11th 1994.
Légende Left to Right: Chief Bernie Parker, Seneca Nation, Jay Clause, Tuscarora Nation, Chief Leo Henry, Tuscarora Nation (holding George Washington Belt) Chief Irving Powless, Onondaga Nation, Thadoda:ho Leon Shenandoah, Onondaga Nation, Chief Emerson Webster, Seneca Nation, (holding George Washington Belt) Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper, Onondaga Nation.
Crédits Photo by Mike Greenlar, 1994. Photo courtesy of Mike Greenlar.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/gradhiva/docannexe/image/6265/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 780k
Titre Fig. 3. Mel Chin, in collaboration with Peter Jemison, Signal, 1997. Installation at the Broadway-Lafayette Street Subway station in New York. Commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts & Design.
Crédits Photo MTA Arts & Design/Rob Wilson. Courtesy of the artist/Thomas Rehbein Galerie, Cologne.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/gradhiva/docannexe/image/6265/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 800k
Titre Fig. 4. Presentation of the George Washington Covenant Wampum Belt at the Onondaga Nation Longhouse after its return from the Albany Institute of History and Art in 1989.
Légende From left to right: Thadoda:ho Leon Shenandoah, Chief Irving Powless, and Faithkeeper Oren Lyons.
Crédits Photo by Mike Greenlar, 1989.Photo courtesy of Mike Greenlar.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/gradhiva/docannexe/image/6265/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 504k
Titre Fig. 5. Study session of the wampum collection held at the Musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac.
Légende From left to right: Katsitsionni Fox, Iakonikonriiosta, Tonia Galban, Michael Galban, Jamie Jacobs, Peter Jemison), November 13th 2021.
Crédits Photo Alice Sidone.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/gradhiva/docannexe/image/6265/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 756k
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Peter Jemison, Jamie Jacobs et Michael Galban, « Wampum: A Living Tradition »Gradhiva, 33 | 2022, 118-131.

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Peter Jemison, Jamie Jacobs et Michael Galban, « Wampum: A Living Tradition »Gradhiva [En ligne], 33 | 2022, mis en ligne le 15 juin 2022, consulté le 26 juin 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/gradhiva/6265 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/gradhiva.6265

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Auteurs

Peter Jemison

Ganondagan State Historical Site
G.Peter.Jemison[at]parks.ny.gov

Peter Jemison is a member of the Heron Clan of the Seneca Nation of Indians. He is a Faithkeeper for the Newtown Longhouse on the Cattaraugus Territory. Peter is also the site manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site, the location of a seventeenth-century Seneca town in Victor, New York. He is an acclaimed artist, curator, filmmaker, and author. Peter has been the Seneca Nation representative carrying out repatriation of human remains, sacred objects, and wampum for more than thirty years. He is the current Chairman of the 1794 Canandaigua Treaty Commemoration Committee and organizes the annual gathering in the city of Canandaigua, New York, every November 11.

Jamie Jacobs

Rochester Museum of Science-Rock Foundation
jamie250art[at]hotmail.com

Hoya’danä:gwad (Jamie Jacobs) is a Turtle Clan member of the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians. He was born and raised on the Tonawanda Seneca Territory. He is the ceremonial custodian and ritualist for the Tonawanda Longhouse, as well as being a Seneca language teacher in the language immersion programs. He has worked for the Rock Foundation at the Rochester Museum and Science Center for the past fifteen years. He currently studies Hodinöhsö:ni’ material culture with an emphasis on archeological Seneca material from the pre-contact period to the early 1800s.

Michael Galban

Ganondagan State Historical Site
Michael.Galban[at]parks.ny.gov

Michael Galban is from the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, and also the Mono Lake/Yosemite Band of Paiutes. He is the curator for the Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan, where he has worked for the past thirty years. His primary area of study is the material culture of the Northeast Woodlands with an emphasis on the Hodinöhsö:ni’ people. He is an artist, author, historian, and a proud father to three Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) children.

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