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  • Julian Reynoso

Canisius commemorates Native American Heritage Month with a field trip

By: Julian Reynoso, News Contributor

Canisius students went to the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum on Saturday with the ALANA Student Center. The trip was done to commemorate Native American Heritage Month and provide students with an engaging and educational experience.

15 students went on the field trip, departing at 9:30 a.m. on a bus to the museum. Once the students arrived, they received a brief talk from Carson, an employee in charge of running the museum on Saturday. He explained to students what they were seeing but also let them peruse the exhibits by themselves.

The first exhibits were geared toward explaining the creation stories that are part of the Onöndowa’ga:’ (Seneca) tradition. The museum had a pathway for guests to follow along and learn more about the culture and history of the Seneca tribe. Other exhibits displayed historic artwork, artifacts, readings and engaging activities, like arranging a map or walking through an authentic Seneca log cabin.

According to Carson, the goal of the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum is to “teach about the culture and history of the Seneca tribe from our perspective.” Carson was raised in Allegany, and his father is from the Onondaga tribe. His mother is from the Seneca tribe. In the Iroquois nation, the tribe someone belongs to is based on their mother’s lineage, making Carson part of the Seneca tribe.

The museum was built in 2018, but the greater Onöhsagwë:de' Cultural Center has been there for over 40 years now. The cultural center continues to host events such as ones like the Leather Clutch Class that they held back on June 15. During this event, students carved, toiled, dyed and stitched their own leather clutches.

After exploring the museum, the students went to Thunder Mountain Buffet in the Seneca Allegany Resort Casino where they had lunch. After dining in the casino, the students went back on the bus and arrived back at Canisius at around 4 p.m.

Dennis Assiam, the event coordinator of the ALANA Student Center, headed this field trip. Last year, ALANA invited two Native American men to teach students about corn husk dolls. Assiam originally wanted to take the students to the Native American museum in New York City. He said that would not have worked logistically, but he still wanted to educate students about Native American culture, saying, “We wanted to bring attention to Native American culture and heritage during this month while also doing something new.”

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