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Declaring Gratitude & Honor for our Haudenosaunee Sisters (and brothers).

Wampum symbolizing the 5 Nation Confederacy

By Kristen Fragnoli

Today, on Indigenous Peoples' Day, (still Columbus Day to many) I feel compelled to declare aloud that I live in Haudenosaunee territory – I always have. Long before this land “belonged” to any of its current owners, it has been the land on which the HodinÖhsÖ:ni’ live in a society that models peaceful, compassionate, collaborative community. Enlightened clans who hold and share the wisdom of our inseparable connection to the earth and to each other. A community that seeks to live in balance - where women and men both hold positions of respect and leadership in the community. A community that has suffered at the hands of outsiders. Today, across the country many people are aware “enough” of this history that they will celebrate “Indigenous Peoples' Day” instead of Columbus Day, yet I wonder how many of us here in the Finger Lakes region have a true understanding of the facts of this history and the incredible social achievements of the peoples whose land we inhabit? Peoples who are not just an interesting historical concept but who are our neighbors still. Clearly, our schools have not taught the real history and present reality of the Haudenosaunee; indeed, our children are still not learning the depth of knowledge of native cultures. The women of the Iroquois Confederacy were instrumental in inspiring the modern US suffrage movement and have been allies in our fight to create a more equitable society yet when we arrive at 2020 to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage in the US, we will be comparing that to 1000+ years of women’s leadership in these native cultures. There is much we can learn from our Haudenosaunee sisters and brothers – not just by studying the “history of another culture” but by recognizing and declaring that today we can take responsibility to learn more about the first women of the Finger Lakes. I am committed to learning more. At a recent workshop I attended, Jeanne Shenandoah (Eel Clan, Onondaga Nation) declared

“We are here. We have always been here. We are our own people.

We have never given up our own identity.”

Thank you to Jeanne, thank you to all HodinÖhsÖ:ni’ women for sharing your knowledge and your lands; I acknowledge and honor you today on Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Kristen is a leadership coach, speaker, traveler and lover of books and mountains. She is the owner and CEO of Quest Potential Leadership Coaching and founder of FLX Women. Learn more about her work at She tries to be courageous, passionate and connected in all she does and hopes you are too!

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