Seneca Art & Culture Zoom

Michael Galban, curator for the Seneca Art & Culture Center at the Ganondagan State Historic Site, connected with Bill Sullivan’s American Studies class via Zoom on April 7th. One of the project-based learning goals for the class this year is partnering with the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden museum on Suffield's historic main street. Students are researching Oliver Phelps’ relationship with the Indigenous population during the 18th century around his home in Canandaigua, New York.

Michael provided the students a wealth of information about Hodinöhsö:ni’ people, history, and culture and explained how Haudenosaunee (hoe-dee-no-SHOW-nee) celebrated the Hiawatha Wampum to symbolize how peace was established among the six nations, which include the tribal nations of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora, and the Seneca peoples. He also explained how Jigonhsasee partnered with the Peacemaker and later showed a way for how Indigenous women exercised their autonomy and voice in the longhouse, which inspired the women’s suffrage movement in America.

This was a learning experience for the class on many levels as they consider what material culture can be used to create an installation that contextualizes Oliver Phelps’ impact on the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. It was a privilege to connect with Michael Galban, who shared his passion for museum work and his personal metaphor for an engaging and informative installation. When he finds and researches material culture for his museum exhibits, he includes the following elements: (1) oral history or legend, (2) archeological or historical documents, and (3) stories, songs, or other art forms.

Special thanks to The Greater Together Community Fund for the Town of Suffield at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for supporting this year’s collaboration with the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden, the Suffield Historical Society, and our American Studies class. The students are now preparing their next public hybrid program to show how the Treaty of Canandaigua showcases the cultural differences among the citizens in our young Republic and the Haudenosaunee. The hybrid program starts at 7 pm on May 9th at the Kent Memorial Library. If you cannot make it in person, you can attend via Zoom