Sept. 25, 2008

Celebrating Native Americans' return to ancestral land

Cornell President David Skorton, Wells College President Lisa Ryerson and Ithaca College President Tom Rochon delivered opening comments at the annual Native American Homecoming Festival Sept. 20 at Tutelo Park in the town of Ithaca.

The festival provided the Cayuga, Tutelo, Saponi and other Indian nations an official welcoming back to their ancestral homelands and offered an opportunity to educate the public about the Native American cultural heritage of central New York. A U.S. Army attack forced the Tutelo to flee their settlement three miles south of Cayuga Lake 230 years ago.

Angela Gonzales, an assistant professor of development sociology at Cornell and one of the festival's lead organizers, filmed interviews with Native American descendants.

Festival highlights included traditional Native American flute music; Haudenosaunee singers and dancers; interactive educational sessions; cornhusk doll making; medicine plant walks; stone carving; Three Sisters teachings; and traditional arts, crafts and foods.

The Native American Homecoming Festival was sponsored by the Multicultural Resource Center at Cornell, Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, the Cornell American Indian Program, Cornell University, Ithaca College, Wells College and the town of Ithaca.