On Wednesday, November 17, 2021, the Byron-Bergen Elementary School fourth grade classes celebrated Haudenosaunee Day. This day came at the end of their English Language Arts (ELA) and Social Studies units based on the Iroquois people, history, and culture and included art and cultural themed activities and special guests.
In the morning, students joined Byron-Bergen High School Music teacher Lawrence Tallman in the cafetorium for an interactive presentation of Native American music, stories, and dance. Tallman is descended from the Onondaga and Tuscarora tribes and studied Native American song and dance while traveling around the country with his grandfather who was a musician. The students joined him in several songs and dances including the Rabbit Dance and the Partridge Dance, historically used to teach counting to children.
In the afternoon, Byron-Bergen parent Michelle Caballero shared the Native American story of the vain doll whose face was taken away by the Great Spirit. Caballero then showed the students how to make their own Corn Husk Dolls. Caballero is a member of the Seneca Nation and enjoys having the opportunity to share her culture each year with the fourth-grade students. Retired Byron-Bergen teacher Rick Merritt shared stories and legends around an outdoor “campfire.” Teachers Charity Hill and Abigail Tallchief from the Buffalo Public Schools’ Native American Resource Program hosted a Google Meet session with each of the fourth-grade classes to teach them about the Thanksgiving Address, a Haudenosaunee invocation that demonstrates their relationship of giving thanks for life and the world.
On Friday, the fourth-grade students closed out their study of Haudenosaunee culture by presenting projects created by the students to the other grade levels who visited their exhibits. Projects included longhouse dioramas, wampum, flags, and the history of the Three Sisters.
The goal of each annual Iroquois celebration is to help the fourth-grade students develop an appreciation through understanding of the Haudenosaunee people.