Amid the many music festivals this time of year, the first annual Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Festival, a lively celebration of Iroquois culture right here in Vestal, New York, is hoping to stand out from the rest. The festival, which will educate attendees not only about the history of the Iroquois, but why that history is relevant to the area, will take place Saturday, Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Vestal Museum.
Attendees of the festival will learn about the Iroquois people, both past and present, as well as enjoy Haudenosaunee foods such as corn soup, corn bread and other traditional dishes from the Onondaga Nation, and crafts for different ages, such as decorating turtles that are carrying the world on their backs — a character from a tale deeply rooted in Native American culture.
The festival will feature three speakers from the Onondaga Nation. Alfred Jacques will speak about traditional lacrosse and lacrosse stick making at 1 p.m., Anthony Gonyea will discuss wampum belt-making at 2 p.m. and Wendy Gonyea will tell Haudenosaunee stories at 3 p.m. In addition to the speakers, the festival will feature a comprehensive exhibition called “Bumping Hips: A History of Lacrosse.” This exhibition will include lacrosse’s past and present, local and Native American roots, and its rise to a national sport.
Binghamton University lacrosse players will be teaching festivalgoers how to shoot goals. The team’s coach, Kevin McKeown, has been excited for the festival and has been brainstorming ideas from the start. When he asked his players to be involved and take shifts at the festival, they too said they were excited to be a part of bringing history to life.
Guests to the exhibition will be able to view a traditional Native American lacrosse stick crafted by Jacques as well as other Native American sticks, plus equipment and memorabilia from BU and Vestal High School. For those who cannot make it to the festival, the lacrosse exhibition will be on display in the museum until Oct. 28.
The Haudenosaunee Festival is free to attend and refreshments will be provided. Museum director Cherese Wiesner-Rosales hopes that the event will draw students to the museum.
“We are hoping for a large turnout, and it would be wonderful to have more BU students get involved with our activities,” Wiesner-Rosales said. “Our goal as a museum is to become a more relevant space where people young and old want to come hang out and hopefully learn a thing or two.”