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The Haudenosanee in the Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes Region has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. No one knows where these people came from, but archeological evidence indicates that several groups of unrelated people have lived in the region over time. When European explorers and trappers first came into what is now New York State in the 1600s, they found the region inhabited by the five nations--the Seneca, the Cayuga, the Onondaga, the Mohawk, and the Oneida--each different in their own special way but of common Iroquoian-based language and culture. There were many conflicts among the nations until a Huron named Peacemaker assisted by the legendary statesman Hiawatha brought the five nations together as the Iroquois Confederacy by initiating "The Great Peace" based on the principals of freedom, mutual respect, tolerance, consensus, and brotherhood. The Tuscarora became the sixth nation of the Iroquois Confederacy about 1722 when many were forced out of the Carolinas by European-American settlers.


Collectively called the Haudenosanee (People of the Longhouse), the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy live over much of New York State with only the Onondagas (People of the Hills) and the Cayugas (People of the Great Swamp) actually living in the Finger Lakes Region. The Senecas, historically known as the Keepers of the Western Door, a reference to the Genesee River as the gateway to the "West," live in western New York as do the Tuscaroras. The Oneidas live just to the east of the Finger Lakes, and the Mohawks live to the north.


The Haudenosanee add much to the history and cultural interest of the region. Here are some events and venues in the Finger Lakes open to the public. For more events and venues in other parts of the state, see Neto Hatinakwe Onkwehowe.



Ganondagan State Historic Site See also: Ganondagan

Letchworth State Park

Newtown Battlefield State Park

Rochester Museum and Science Center

The historic Iroquois archaeology collection, dating from 1550-1840, is a national treasure that documents the sequence of villages occupied by the Seneca and records the contact between Native people, Europeans, and Americans.

Sainte Marie Among the Iroquois



Ganondagan Calendar of Events

Cornell Powwow and Smokedance

Cornell University student Zachary Bartosik of the Wyandot tribe dances at the 2008 Cornell Powwow and Smokedance in Ithaca, New York, USA.When: 2nd Saturday in April

Where: Cornell University, Barton Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853

Contact: 607-255-1919

International powwow and smokedance competition. Traditional arts, crafts, and food.

Genundowa--The Festival of Lights

When: beginning at 10:00 a.m. into the the late evening, Labor Day Weekend (Saturday and Sunday at the end of August/beginning of September)

Where: Hammondsport Village Square, Hammondsport, NY 14840

The traditional festival to give thanks for peace and prosperity. Powwow, storytelling, traditional arts and crafts, and traditional foods

with fire lighting and social dance along Keuka Lake.

Tutelo, Saponi & Kindred Nations Homecoming

When: last full weekend in September

Where: Tutelo Park, 151 Bostwick Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850

Contact: Town of Ithaca, Dept. of Parks and Recreation, 607-273-1656

In 1779 when General John Sullivan's army forced the Indians out of the Finger Lakes, the Tutelo and Saponi nations were living in the Finger Lakes under the auspices of the Haudenosanee. They never returned. The annual homecoming at Tutelo Park marks a time each year for these nations to get together and for people to celebrate their culture. Storytelling, traditional arts and crafts, and traditional foods and dancing.



Neto Hatinakwe Onkwehowe



Catharine Montour



Handsone Lake

Mary Jemison

Red Jacket


Updated 17 November 2009








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