Feature President

A message from President Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr.


May is such a great name for this month! It may rain, it may snow, it may be seventy degrees, or it may be thirty degrees. This time of year, we just need to keep a wind breaker, a raincoat, umbrella, mud boots and gloves in our vehicles – until the sun decides to come out and stay out.

This is one of the busiest months for our communities, and for our office. Teacher Appreciation Week was from May 8th to May 12th. Of course, for our part, we celebrate our teachers at our Education Departments, Seneca Arts & Learning Center, Early Childhood Learning Center, Faith Keeper School, Immersion, and our Language Departments with lunch from Executives and Council. A big nya:wëh goes out to all of our educators working with all of our Seneca members, whether they are preparing them to be future leaders or to become fluent speakers. The teaching profession is so much more than standing up in front of a class and providing instruction and giving lessons. Teachers spend copious amounts of time preparing schedules, lesson plans and making sure they have the supplies to support them in their efforts to provide a quality education. In addition, they may be a shoulder to cry on and provide counsel, or sub as a nurse when one of their students has fallen and needs a band-aid. Although Nurses Week and Teacher’s Week sometimes overlap, and do not generally land on the same week, they do this year. Nurses Week is May 6th to May 12th. For our part, we celebrate nurses working in our health centers and early learning centers with a gift of appreciation for all that they do in their professions. A big nya:wëh goes out to all of our nurses for working in one of the most difficult professional fields there is. I’ve always thought that it takes special people to work in both the education and medical fields. Ja:göh! Just know that you are all very much appreciated for your time, attention, and care.

This month is also approaching the 2023 graduation season for all the senior students in our communities. I’m glad to see opportunities for our Seneca students to create their own traditional outfits to wear for their commencement ceremonies and am hopeful they are taking advantage of learning new skills. Here are some senior graduation dates for the surrounding schools, where our Seneca members go to school:

  • Archbishop Walsh Academy – June 2nd
  • Lakeshore – June 22nd
  • Gowanda – June 23rd
  • Randolph – June 23rd
  • Salamanca – June 23rd
  • Olean – June 24th

I feel very grateful to have lived long enough to see how much we, as Seneca people, have progressed from when I graduated from high school. Our graduating classes have so many more opportunities than we had back then. Today, we have dynamic internship programs and summer learning experiences all designed to expose our students to various professions and higher education institutions.

To round things off, our high school sports programs are mid-season and I hear they are doing amazing things. At Salamanca, Lucas Brown recently received several major awards due to an accomplished basketball season. Salamanca alum, Nathan Kettle received “Rookie of the Year” honors from Russell Sage College. Even the Buffalo Bandits are making another run in the playoffs.

Also, several of our Native students are members of the Salamanca High School Band, which recently took first place at the Philadelphia Heritage Music Festival. And, last but not by any means least, we found out racism is alive and well at Williamsville South High School. Parents in the stands at a recent lacrosse game yelled out racially offensive remarks.

With the hustle and bustle of the spring/summer season, please don’t forget to check in on our elder members to see if they would like a cold plate or need some help with their spring cleaning.

Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr.