Completed first phase of the new Onondaga art installation on the quad


A temporary sign informs passers-by about Onondaga’s new art installation at the southeast corner of the Shaw Quad. Installation will be completed later this year.

Those walking through the Kenneth A. Shaw Quadrangle may notice a new addition to the landscape this week, as the first phase of a new art installation from Onondaga, led by Indigenous Students of Syracuse (ISAS), the Indigenous Student Program, Ongwehonwe Alumni Association and Haudenosaunee / Indigenous Representatives — has ended and the fence around the facility has been removed.

The Onondaga art installation, which was initially requested by Indigenous students, will serve as a continuing recognition of the relationship between Syracuse University and the Onondaga Nation and the University’s presence on ancestral lands. .

This initial phase of the project establishes the footprint and landscape of the art installation at the southeast corner of the Quad, outside of Bowne Hall and across from Orange Grove. The planting of a white pine in five granite pillars seeks to represent the Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which was made up of five nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca (Tuscarora will join in the 18th century) .

Natural and sustainable elements meant to withstand the weather conditions of central New York were selected to articulate a connection to the natural world and ensure the facility’s status as a permanent part of the campus landscape. In the middle of a circular sidewalk, surrounded by blocks of granite and attached to two white pine poles, is a temporary sign explaining the current state of the project.

Later this year the temporary sign will be replaced with a commissioned artwork by Onondaga artist Brandon Lazore and additional text will be included to draw attention to the land recognition read before all official university events. . Once the commissioned work is installed, an official dedication and unveiling event will take place, scheduled for early 2022.

a young white pine surrounded by granite pillars and green grass

A newly planted white pine, a symbol of the Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, is surrounded by five granite pillars at the site of the Onondaga art installation.

Lazore says his work is almost complete and is a representation of the formation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy; how the different nations of the confederation chose to live among themselves in peace and harmony rather than engage in civil war; and the influence that indigenous peoples had on the founding of democracy in the United States of America, and later on the women’s rights movement.

“I am delighted and honored to participate in this project,” said Lazore. “This is something that will be good for the community and for Indigenous peoples as a whole, not only in Syracuse but across the United States and Canada. This clearly shows that the University is invested in us – they made the effort to work with Indigenous peoples and let us tell our story in our own words and highlight things from history that are usually not talked about. not.

“We are grateful for Syracuse University’s commitment to dedicate permanent space on campus to educate through this incredible Onondaga artwork by Brandon Lazore. The rich history of the Onondaga Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, these lands and our people will be shared with all who visit this exceptional campus, ”said Tadodaho Sidney Hill. “The collaboration between the University and the Onondaga Nation continues to be strengthened through the mutual demonstration of peace, friendship and respect.”

Former student and activist Danielle Smith ’19, G’20 says she is relieved to see the art installation on campus come to fruition. “As an Onondaga woman from the Hawk Clan, I am grateful to all the Indigenous students and staff who helped make this happen,” she says. “By representing the stories of the Onondaga Nation on campus, I hope it will inspire more faculty, departments and students to discover the true history of the Haudenosaunee people and educate newcomers to campus than we the peoples. natives, are still here. ”

Maris Jacobs ’19, from the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà: ke near Montreal, Quebec, got involved in the art installation during her final year as a member of ISAS and is keen to bring it to fruition. “This installation is important because so often we [Indigenous students] are not visually represented in the classroom, ”she said. “Students can spend all of their time at Syracuse University without ever really understanding what they are doing while listening or saying thank you to the land.”

a purple sign between two white pine logs that displays Hiawatha's wampum belt

The reverse side of the temporary panel depicts the Hiawatha wampum belt, symbolizing the unity of the original five nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Ionah M. Elaine Scully (Cree-Métis, Michel First Nation), a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education at the School of Education, says that as an Indigenous guest on the lands of Onondaga, they are honored to support the work of making the art installation on campus. “It is my responsibility to uplift and support the experiences and sovereignty of Onondaga,” said Scully. “As the art is created by an artist Onondaga, the project managed by Onondaga and other Haudenosaunee peoples and the space around the installation a space for indigenous knowledge to center, it almost feels like this project is a small moment of reclaiming our space as an indigenous people.

“The Onondaga art installation will serve many functions, not only as an exhibition of indigenous art, but also as a gathering place, a place of learning, a safe and courageous place that inspires and supports to both conversations and actions, ”said Reverend Brian Konkol. , Dean of Hendricks Chapel, who helped facilitate the project. “I am grateful for the tremendous efforts of our students to make all of this possible, and look forward to our continued collaboration.”

“I hope people take the opportunity to appreciate not only the artwork, but also the space and the recognition of the earth,” says Jacobs. “I believe that a solid understanding and awareness of the lands you occupy and study on should be part of the Syracuse University experience and be maintained long after you have left.”


About Irene J. O'Donnell

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