Haudenosaunee Forest Forum

“As a forestry student, It’s always a privilege to have the opportunity to learn about the forest from indigenous knowledge holders. Personally as a Tuscarora, it was a special honor to hear voices from across the Haudenosaunee confederacy and to be hosted graciously by the Onondaga Nation and Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force. Aside from the influence this will have on my work with the forest, my biggest takeaway from this meeting was the resilience of our elders to pass on knowledge after being under attack for hundreds of years. It was inspiring to think that one day I could be in the position of passing on knowledge but until then I will continue to learn and admire our elders for their brilliance.”

Bradley Thomas, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow
Jeanne Shenandoah and Neil Patterson Jr. during the Haudenosaunee Forest Forum at Onondaga Nation

On October 9-10, the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment co-hosted the first ever Haudenosaunee Forest Forum. Twenty individuals from across the Confederacy gathered for a beautiful fall weekend at the Onondaga Nation to share their knowledge about Haudenosaunee forestry practices. This Forum kicked off the Center’s new Haudenosaunee Forest Principles Project, generously funded through the Northern States Research Cooperative (USDA). 

Haudenosaunee people are the traditional caretakers of over twenty million acres of forests in what is now called New York State. In recent years, the Center has received a number of requests from forest owners interested in how Indigenous knowledge and access should be part of the management of these forests. In response to these requests, the Center has created the Haudenosaunee Forest Principles Project, which aims to identify community research and education priorities related to forest lands, develop forest curriculum for youth, and create a set of criteria and indicators for assessing the wellbeing of Haudenosaunee forests.
The goals of the project are to: 1) Bring together Indigenous community leaders, knowledge holders and practitioners to consider the ways that Haudenosaunee forest protocols and traditions can be applied to contemporary forest management practices; 2) Compile a set of Haudenosaunee Forest Principles based on guidelines developed by the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force (HETF); 3) Create lesson plans to teach and demonstrate traditional forest knowledge from Indigenous elders and practitioners to Indigenous young people; and 4) Work with the HETF to convene 3-4 forums to discuss Haudenosaunee Forest Principles with community leaders and practitioners. 

written by Sarah Howard

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