Reflections on Erie’s Waters

In celebration of the Erie Canal Bicentennial (2017-2025), the Erie Canal Museum has partnered with the Canal Society of New York State on a program called Reflections on Erie’s Waters – The Erie Canal in New York State’s History and Future. This multifaceted program includes exhibits; a statewide lecture tour; and artist-led workshops, all in celebration and commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal.


Artist-Led Workshops

The Erie Canal Museum is hosting five artist-led workshops in the areas of poetry, photography, music, storytelling, and painting.

The fee for the workshops are $12 for Museum members and $15 for the general public. It is important to us that these workshops are available to everyone, so we have a limited number of scholarships available for each. To apply for a scholarship, please fill out this application and send it to director@eriecanalmuseum.org.

To reserve a General Public spot in a workshop, click here. Members should call (315) 471-0593 x15 to receive a reduced rate.

Upcoming Workshop

Drawing from History, Painting Erie’s Landscape Workshop with Reina Apraez
Wednesday, September 13 from 5pm – 8:00pm at the Erie Canal Museum
Even at its bicentennial, the Erie Canal has informed city planners and developers of the possibilities for a new Syracuse. This is a landscape drawing and painting workshop in structure, but it is an opportunity to inform oneself of the possibilities that exist in our changing City through creativity and experimentation. This is a workshop for all levels, and a great opportunity for young artists to develop portfolio pieces. This workshop is limited to 15 participants.

 

Completed Workshops

The Erie Canal: A Pathway for Poetry Workshop with Ellen Agnew
Saturday, May 20 and Saturday, June 3 from 10am – 1pm at the Erie Canal Museum
This two-session workshop provided an introduction to five different forms of poetry and strategies for composing poetry, as well as an opportunity to write and share poems inspired by various perspective of the Erie Canal, past and present.

Reflecting with Song: Music Workshop with Dave Ruch
Thursday, June 15 from 7pm – 9pm at the Erie Canal Museum
Syracuse New York is home to an active community of folk musicians, fiddlers, bluegrass bands, and singers and players of Irish traditional music. The local and regional “heritage” repertoire of canal music shares lots of common musical ground with these genres, and yet, seems to be under-represented at local jam sessions and musical events. This workshop with musician and canal music researcher Dave Ruch (www.daveruch.com), with Dick Ford of Signature Music, introduced songs and instrumental pieces from canal days, passing along to area musicians some truly regional folk music while inviting reflections and comparisons with their current repertory.

Reflecting on the Historic Erie Canal Photography Workshop with Willson Cummer
Saturday, July 15 from 10am – 2pm at the Erie Canal Museum
In this workshop, participants will explored the area of downtown Syracuse that was once occupied by the Erie Canal and utilize their cameras to create their own visions of history. The workshop will included an introduction to basic photography and end with a supportive critique.

Collecting Reflections Storytelling Workshop with Sean Kirst
Saturday, July 29 from 11am – 2pm at the Erie Canal Museum
Participants learned storytelling techniques based on their impressions of the Erie Canal’s history, impact, and relevance to their lives built around one famous incident in Canal history; and develop creative ideas for spoken word tales that build on these impressions.

 


 

State-Wide Lecture Series

The Erie Canal Museum is hosting five lectures at locations around the state: Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter, Erie Canal Discovery Center in Lockport, Fairport Public Library, and Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center in Liverpool.

Upcoming Lectures

Lockport: Historic Jewel of the Erie Canal
Lecturer: Dr. Kathleen Riley
Wednesday, October 18 at 2:00 PM at the Erie Canal Discovery Center [24 Church Street, Lockport, NY 14094]
Given the challenges presented by nature, namely the mountain ridge at the Niagara escarpment in Lockport, most triumphant part of building the Erie Canal was saved for last. To arrive at this historic point, the small town had to deal with many religious and ethnic tensions, as Irish immigrants migrated to Lockport to complete the dangerous work of digging the “artificial river.” Following in their wake were “curious manifestations of bewildering social change” which persisted for decades in surrounding communities – the rise of the Mormons, the anti-Masonic movement, and labor riots which necessitated the calling in of the state militia for the first time in American History -all part of what historian Whitney Cross wrote about in The Burned Over District. Lockport was the center of both technological triumphs and the persistent social tensions which followed the path of the canal. In the 19th century, Lockport was a magnet attracting European visitors such as Frances Trollope, author of The Domestic Manners of Americans. Today Lockport is currently restoring its proud heritage as it continues to welcome visitors to the “historic jewel” of the Erie Canal in the 21st century.
Dr. Riley is a Professor of History at Ohio Dominican University. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Nazareth College of Rochester and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame. Her teaching and research interests: American Religious History, especially Catholicism; American Intellectual History; American Political History, with an emphasis on the Presidency; and Local History (Erie Canal, Lockport, New York).

The Sacred Waters of the Haudenosaunee and the Trauma of the Erie Canal
Lecturers: Philip P. Arnold and Chief Jake Edwards
Saturday, October 21 at 1:00 PM at the Skä•noñh- Great Law of Peace Center [6680 Onondaga Lake Pkwy, Liverpool, NY 13088]
For millennia, waterways in Haudenosaunee territories have been profoundly important.  In the Haudenosaunee cosmology, water is sacred as fundamental to all life.  Therefore, while waterways were used for transportation, as food resources, and as locations for settlement, it was widely agreed among Indigenous that they also be protected.  The Erie Canal disrupted the natural flow of water, essentially damning watersheds so as to flow in an east-west direction.  As Laurence Hauptman has discussed in Conspiracy of Interests: Iroquois Dispossession and the Rise of New York State, the creation of the Erie Canal corresponded with the dispossession of the Haudenosaunee.  Transformation of the landscape throughout the 19th century had profound environmental effects and traumatic consequences on Haudenosaunee relationships to their lands.
Jake Edwards is a citizen on the Onondaga Nation and sits on the Council of Chiefs.  He has extensive knowledges of Haudenosaunee environmental history and often speaks throughout the world on Haudenosaunee values. A sovereign nation on 7,300 acres south of Syracuse, Onondaga is a proud member of the Haudenosaunee (“People of the Long House”), an alliance of six Native American nations sometimes referred to as the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations.  Other members include the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations.
Philip P. Arnold is Associate Professor and Chair of Religion Department at Syracuse University as well as core faculty in Native American and Indigenous Studies.  He is the Founding Director of the Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center (www.skanonhcenter.org/).  His books are Eating Landscape: Aztec and European Occupation of Tlalocan (1999); Sacred Landscapes and Cultural Politics: Planting a Tree (2001); The Gift of Sports: Indigenous Ceremonial Dimensions of the Games We Love (2012) and Urgency of Indigenous Religions (University of New Mexico Press, forthcoming).  He is a founding member of Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON), (www.peacecouncil.net/NOON/index.html) and established the Doctrine of Discovery Study Group (www.doctrineofdiscovery.org) He is the President of the Indigenous Values Initiative(www.indigenousvalues.org), a non-profit organization to support the educational work of the Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center.

The Sacred Waters of the Haudenosaunee and the Trauma of the Erie Canal
Lecturers: Philip P. Arnold and Chief Jake Edwards
Saturday, October 28 at 1:00 PM the Fairport Public Library [1 Fairport Village Landing, Fairport, NY 14450]
For millennia, waterways in Haudenosaunee territories have been profoundly important.  In the Haudenosaunee cosmology, water is sacred as fundamental to all life.  Therefore, while waterways were used for transportation, as food resources, and as locations for settlement, it was widely agreed among Indigenous that they also be protected.  The Erie Canal disrupted the natural flow of water, essentially damning watersheds so as to flow in an east-west direction.  As Laurence Hauptman has discussed in Conspiracy of Interests: Iroquois Dispossession and the Rise of New York State, the creation of the Erie Canal corresponded with the dispossession of the Haudenosaunee.  Transformation of the landscape throughout the 19th century had profound environmental effects and traumatic consequences on Haudenosaunee relationships to their lands.
Jake Edwards is a citizen on the Onondaga Nation and sits on the Council of Chiefs.  He has extensive knowledges of Haudenosaunee environmental history and often speaks throughout the world on Haudenosaunee values. A sovereign nation on 7,300 acres south of Syracuse, Onondaga is a proud member of the Haudenosaunee (“People of the Long House”), an alliance of six Native American nations sometimes referred to as the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations.  Other members include the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations.
Philip P. Arnold is Associate Professor and Chair of Religion Department at Syracuse University as well as core faculty in Native American and Indigenous Studies.  He is the Founding Director of the Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center (www.skanonhcenter.org/).  His books are Eating Landscape: Aztec and European Occupation of Tlalocan (1999); Sacred Landscapes and Cultural Politics: Planting a Tree (2001); The Gift of Sports: Indigenous Ceremonial Dimensions of the Games We Love (2012) and Urgency of Indigenous Religions (University of New Mexico Press, forthcoming).  He is a founding member of Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON), (www.peacecouncil.net/NOON/index.html) and established the Doctrine of Discovery Study Group (www.doctrineofdiscovery.org) He is the President of the Indigenous Values Initiative(www.indigenousvalues.org), a non-profit organization to support the educational work of the Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center.

 

Completed Lectures

Becoming Second Nature: The Erie Canal’s Early History
Lecturer: Carol Sheriff
Saturday, July 22 at 1:00 PM at the Hudson River Maritime Museum [50 Rondout Landing, Kingston, NY 12401]
As New York and the nation mark the Erie Canal’s bicentennial, Carol Sheriff explores the waterway’s early history, from 1817 to the 1860s.  In our own era of instant communications, the Erie Canal has become an icon of a quieter, simpler era.  Yet in its own day, it symbolized the young republic’s technological and economic progress, even the nation’s realization of a divinely ordained mission.  Professor Sheriff will introduce the contested, often ambivalent ways in which New Yorkers grappled with the new waterway’s remapping of their region’s physical and human geography.  As they redefined their daily routines, livelihoods, and values for the Canal Era, New Yorkers helped turn the extraordinary into second nature.
Carol Sheriff is the William E. Pullen Professor of History at the College of William and Mary and the author of The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862,which won the New York State Historical Association’s Dixon Ryan Fox Prize in 1996. With Scott Reynolds Nelson, she wrote A People at War: Civilians and Soldiers in America’s Civil War, 1854-1877, and she is a co-author of A People and A Nation, an American history textbook that will soon be released in its eleventh edition.  She is currently working on a book tentatively entitled ‘Not a brother’s war’: America’s Embattled Textbooks, which examines controversies over how state-history textbooks have portrayed historical events from the 1860s through the present.

Becoming Second Nature: The Erie Canal’s Early History
Lecturer: Carol Sheriff
Sunday, July 23 at 4:00 PM at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site [129 Schoharie Street, Fort Hunter, NY 12069]
As New York and the nation mark the Erie Canal’s bicentennial, Carol Sheriff explores the waterway’s early history, from 1817 to the 1860s.  In our own era of instant communications, the Erie Canal has become an icon of a quieter, simpler era.  Yet in its own day, it symbolized the young republic’s technological and economic progress, even the nation’s realization of a divinely ordained mission.  Professor Sheriff will introduce the contested, often ambivalent ways in which New Yorkers grappled with the new waterway’s remapping of their region’s physical and human geography.  As they redefined their daily routines, livelihoods, and values for the Canal Era, New Yorkers helped turn the extraordinary into second nature.
Carol Sheriff is the William E. Pullen Professor of History at the College of William and Mary and the author of The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862,which won the New York State Historical Association’s Dixon Ryan Fox Prize in 1996. With Scott Reynolds Nelson, she wrote A People at War: Civilians and Soldiers in America’s Civil War, 1854-1877, and she is a co-author of A People and A Nation, an American history textbook that will soon be released in its eleventh edition.  She is currently working on a book tentatively entitled ‘Not a brother’s war’: America’s Embattled Textbooks, which examines controversies over how state-history textbooks have portrayed historical events from the 1860s through the present.


 

Reflections on Erie’s Waters is made possible with funding from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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