The Longhouse build at the Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center is underway!
SALAMANCA, NY- The Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center is building a Longhouse on the Ohi:yo’ Territory. The project will be lead by Rod Pierce, Seneca. Pierce and Carson Waterman built the first Longhouse in the former Seneca-Iroquois Museum located on Broad Street back in the 1970’s. On April 26th, Pierce, Darcy Scott, Bucky Bray, Blaine Tallchief, Chris Tallchief and Keith Spruce raised a Hiawatha Belt flag prior to inserting the main posts for the structure.
Once completed, the Longhouse will serve as a center for the Hodinöshö:ni’ community in an effort to bring back traditions and provide opportunities to educate visitors about our culture. In our language, Hodinöshö:ni’ means “People of the Longhouse.” Our Longhouse is not only a dwelling, it is also represented as a symbolic structure for all Hodinöshö:ni’ Nations under one roof as one family.
We are known as “Keepers of the Western Door,” Mohawks are “Keepers of the Eastern Door” and Onondagas are “Keepers of the Fire,” where the central fire continues to burn. The Tuscarora Nation, the Cayuga Nation and the Oneida Nation are considered our “Younger Brothers” and occupy Territories between the “Elder Brothers;” Senecas, Mohawks and Onondagas across New York State. These Nations shaped the Iroquois Confederacy after forming an alliance and burying their weapons under the Great Tree of Peace inspired by the Peacemaker’s vision.
Hayden Haynes, Business Manager, hopes to see the Longhouse come to life through the community, “this structure is for the community – by the community. We hope to see everyone come together to get the project done and hope to hold socials and cultural activities in the future.”
The structure will emulate the traditional rustic Seneca dwelling from the precolonial period with two doors on each end, smoke holes for fires and dual level bunks. The 20’x40′ build is what would have been the size of a storage shed for harvesting meat and produce. Pierce has said there is room to extend the structure if and when needed. Traditionally, the lower level was for sleeping and the top level was used for storage. Each family had their own section across the Longhouse, which could be as long as 200 feet depending on the size of the family. Elm trees are used for the frame and the bark is wrapped around the outside as protection or siding.
The crew intends to make significant progress over the next couple months and is seeking volunteers to make this goal a reality. If you like to help, please call the museum at 716-945- 1760.
A volunteer schedule to help with the build will be out in the near future. Follow the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on the call for volunteers, and updates on progress.