WXXI AM News

Native Americans

The City of Rochester is getting ready to celebrate its inaugural Indigenous Peoples' Day on October 8. The holiday will coincide with Columbus Day, which has long been controversial.

Our guests discuss the change, and what it means to grow up Native American . We also hear from the Italian-American community, which has varying opinions on the issue -- but has shown a devotion to keeping Columbus Day. Our guests:

An upcoming festival at Ganondagan explores Native American food and culture. We get a preview and discuss traditional and contemporary indigenous culinary experiences.

Our guests:

  • Chef Arlie Doxtator, chef with 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry
  • Peter Jemison, historic site manager for Ganondagan
  • Angela Ferguson, farm supervisor for the Onondaga Nation, indigenous food advocate, corn grower, and seed saver

Last month, while on a tour for prospective students at Colorado State University, a woman called police, saying she was concerned that two young men in the group were not meant to be part of the tour. She said they stood out and were wearing clothing with "weird symbolism." The two young men are Native American and had driven seven hours from New Mexico to take part in the tour. Police patted them down and eventually allowed them to rejoin the tour, but by that time, the group was long gone. The story has caused outrage, with many people comparing it to the racial profiling incident at a Starbucks, where two black men were arrested while waiting for a friend. 

Two local groups say communities need to better understand indigenous rights and history; they are partnering to combat racism against Native Americans. We discuss their efforts. In studio:

A documentary called Lake of Betrayal tells the story of the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania, and how its construction forced the Seneca Indian people from their ancestral land. It’s a story of politics, commercialization, broken treaties, and the Seneca Nation’s fight to protect its sovereignty and culture.

The film will be shown at Ganondagan this weekend, and we’ll get a preview with the filmmaker. Our guests:

  • Scott Sackett, writer and producer of Lake of Betrayal
  • Peter Jemison, historic site manager for Ganondagan
  • Michael Leroy Oberg, distinguished professor of history at SUNY Geneseo, and author of Native America: A History

A new exhibit opening at Ganondagan next week honors the impact Hodinöhsö:ni’ women have had on our culture. The exhibit focuses on five moments in history, including the women’s suffrage movement, when the achievements of Hodinöhsö:ni’ women have shaped society.

Our guests discuss the exhibit and Hodinöhsö:ni’ history and culture:

  • Peter Jemison, historic site manager for Ganondagan
  • Michael Galban, curator and historian at the Seneca Art and Culture Center at Ganondagan
  • Michelle Schenandoah, writer, speaker, and member of the Oneida Indian Nation of New York and Wolf Clan

What kinds of stories can be told by studying material objects? In other words, what can we learn about a culture and its people based on the clothing, housing, tools, and art that they produce?

That’s the focus of an upcoming symposium at Ganondagan. We talk about what we can learn from Native materials. Our guests:

  • Michael Galban, curator and historian at the Seneca Art and Culture Center at Ganondagan, and organizer of the Symposium on Woodland Material Culture and Art
  • Mindy Magyar, assistant professor of industrial design at the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at RIT

It's the second Monday in October, and while many cities and states celebrate Columbus Day, others have officially changed the holiday to Indigenous Peoples' Day. There is a movement in cities across the nation to make such a change in an effort to celebrate Native Americans, their history, and their culture.

Many people who support Indigenous Peoples' Day say we shouldn't celebrate Columbus -- a man who promoted slavery and was responsible for the genocide of Native Americans. Yet, some Italian Americans who defend Columbus Day say scrapping the holiday would be an affront to their heritage.

This hour, we discuss the holiday, what it means, and how schools teach Native American history. We also talk about a new textbook, Native American: A History.

  • Peter Jemison, historic site manager for Ganondagan
  • Michael Oberg, distinguished professor of history at SUNY Geneseo, and author of Native America: A History

From the Washington Redskins to the Cleveland Indians to so-called “pow-wows” at summer camps, elements of Native American history are being used for commercial gain, and many people don't realize it's offensive toward Native Americans. Is there a knowledge gap when it comes to Native American culture? How are schools teaching Native American history?

Our guests from Ganondagan say most schools need improvement when it comes to their lesson plans about Native American history, but there are a few schools doing admirable work. We talk about what they’d like to see in the classroom, and we hear local success stories. In studio:

  • Peter Jemison, historic site manager for Ganondagan
  • Michael Galban, curator and historian at the Seneca Art and Culture Center at Ganondagan
  • Katie McFarland, director of professional development for the Canandaigua City School District

President Trump has given the green light for two major pipeline projects: Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

At the White House, Trump said he hasn't heard one complaint or received one dissenting phone call. Our guests discuss the challenge of protesting a project when the president claims their voices don't exist. In studio:

Treaty Day is almost upon us, but many Americans don't know what it means.

We discuss our own Native American history, including looks at the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Our guests:

  • Peter Jemison, historic site manager, Ganondagan
  • Jamie Jacobs, Tonawanda Seneca language teacher and tradition bearer

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