Haudenosaunee and the Erie Canal Series

This speaking series in partnership with the Skä·noñh-Great Law of Peace Center looked at the impacts of the Erie Canal on the Haudenosaunee and their foodways as part of our larger Erie Eats Foodways Project.



Program List


Reviving Haudenosaunee Food Culture, A Virtual Talk with Chef Tawnya Brant
August 24 at 7:00 PM

The Ska•noñh-Great Law of Peace Center and the Erie Canal Museum hosted a virtual discussion with Mohawk Nation citizen Tawnya Brant.

Tawnya Brant is the Chef Owner of Yawékon Foods, which specializes in Haudenosaunee fusion cuisine.  She grew up in her home community of Six Nations of the Grand River in a home without electricity or running water and had a large garden. Her mother Terrylynn is an avid gardener and her dad Richard a lifelong hunter/fisher. She spent her foundational years with a kitchen filled with Indigenous harvests and wild game. Chef Tawnya has been working in the restaurant industry for 24 years, landing her first job as a line cook at a small café at age 12. She completed 2 years of culinary management at Fleming College and graduated the Aboriginal Small Business Management program at Mohawk College. Chef Tawnya spent over a decade as a freelance support chef for opening prime franchise restaurants. After becoming a mother she switched her focus to Indigenous foods and catering, founding Yawékon Foods as a focus on Haudenosaunee culinary roots. Since 2014 she has travelled across North America sharing her cuisine.


They Sustain Us: Food Sovereignty on the Onondaga Nation
May 20
 at 7:00 PM

The Ska•noñh-Great Law of Peace Center and the Erie Canal Museum had a virtual discussion with Onondaga Nation Farm Supervisor, Angela Ferguson, about the many ways in which the Onondaga Nation is achieving food sovereignty.

Angela is a member of the Onondaga Nation Eel Clan. She has been the Onondaga Nation Farm Crew Supervisor since 2015. The farm is responsible for all aspects of food sovereignty within their community, including: planting, harvesting, seed preservation, foraging, medicine gathering, traditional food preparation, butchering wild game, bee keeping, food distribution, and community/Elder meal preparation. Angela is also one of the Braiding the Sacred Organizers. They have gathered hundreds of Indigenous Corn Growers together to share knowledge from respected elders, seed sharing, & planting methods.  Click here to watch the recording.


Agriculture at Ganondagan – Virtual Field Trip
April 24 at 11:00 AM

Virtual field trip led by Peter Jemison of Ganondagan State Historic Site. The field trip will consisted of a discussion of the historic locations of the farming and food storage at the site, women’s role in Haudenosaunee agriculture and a visit to the Iroquois White Corn Project, with further discussion of their mission and role in agriculture today. This field trip is in partnership with the Skä·noñh-Great Law of Peace Center as part of our series looking at the impact of the Erie Canal on the Haudenosaunee as well as Haudenosaunee foodways in general, as part of our larger Erie Eats Foodways Project.


Sacred Waters – Trauma of the Erie Canal
March 27 at 11:00 AM

Jake Haiwhagai’i(He speaks with strong voice) Edwards and Dr. Philip P. Arnold led a webinar about the impact of the Erie Canal on the Haudenosaunee.

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 peoples 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.


The Fertile Ground, Home to the Seneca Nation
February 6 at 1:00 PM

Peter Jemison, Seneca artist, educator, advocate, and Historic Site Manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site, discussed the Seneca people and their ancestral homeland in Western New York, as well as the issue of food sovereignty. Jemison was the first guest in our speaking series in partnership with the Skä·noñh-Great Law of Peace Center.

Peter Jemison has served as Historic Site Manager at Ganondagan since 1985, co-edited the book Treaty of Canandaigua 1794: 200 Years of Treaty Relations between the Iroquois Confederacy and the United States, produced the multi-award winning “Iroquois Creation Story” film, and has produced art that has been acclaimed and exhibited all over the world, among many other accomplishments. Jemison is currently on the Boards of Trustees for the National Museum of American Indian and the New York State Museum, was the founding director of the American Indian Community House Gallery in New York City, and was past Board Member-at-Large of the American Alliance of Museums. Jemison’s roles and responsibilities also include representing the Seneca Nation of Indians on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) as well as a past Indian Tribe/Native Hawaiian Representative of the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). A member of the Heron Clan of the Seneca Nation, Jemison’s work is rooted in the framework of Native American art.


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [CAGML-246991-OMLS-20].

The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this series do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This project was dependent upon the generous support from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and the NYS Canal Corporation, along with support provided by Market NY through I LOVE NY, New York State’s Division of Tourism, as a part of the State’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative.