Award-winning Native American vocalist Joanne Shenandoah to appear at The Maxwell School
Award-winning Native American vocalist Joanne Shenandoah to appear at The Maxwell SchoolFebruary 09, 2001Jonathan Hayjhay@syr.edu
Joanne Shenandoah, who has been called the most critically acclaimed Native American singer of her time, will offer the Syracuse University community her vocalizations of the history and culture of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) at 4 p.m. Feb. 15 in Maxwell Auditorium. Shenandoah will attend an Iroquois reception following the concert. The concert and reception are open to the University community only. “This will be a great event because she’s the best Native American vocalist today and has genuine Oneida lineage,” says Stephen Saunders Webb, professor of history and social science in The Maxwell School. “She attempts to recreate the history of her people with her music. It’s the history of the foundation of a league and covenant, and it’s particularly appropriate for Maxwell.” Shenandoah is best known for her recreations of Iroquois life and legend. She has several successful CD recordings–“Matriarch” (1996), “All Spirits Sing” (1997), “Orenda” (1998), “Peacemaker’s Journey” (2000) and “Warrior in Two Worlds” (2000)–that have made her not just the pre-eminent interpreter of Iroquois culture but the recipient of national awards, including Best Female Artist in Native American Music awards for both 1998 and 1999. “Peacemaker’s Journey” has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Native American Music Album category. Immediately following her SU performance, Shenandoah will fly to Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards ceremony. Shenandoah’s husband, Doug George-Kanentiio ’80, has recovered the Peacemaker’s Conversion of the Five Nations into the League of the Iroquois for the recording. George-Kanentiio is a well-known Akwesasne Mohawk journalist and historian, and the author of “Iroquois Culture and Commentary” (Clear Light Publishers, 2000). Webb has led a group of faculty–including Maureen Trudell-Schwarz, assistant professor of anthropology in The Maxwell School, and Philip Arnold, associate professor of religion in The College of Arts and Sciences–and graduate students in the study of Native American culture for many years. He is in the process of drawing the scattered courses taught on the subject together into a Native American studies program.
“By bringing people like Joanne Shenandoah to SU, it sends a message that there is a growing interest at the University in Iroquois affairs in particular and Native American studies in general,” Webb says. “This is just the first of a number of public events we plan to host that we hope will draw interest in Native American studies from the campus as a whole. “It’s not often that people will get a chance to see a free performance of the leading Native American performer in the country,” he says. The reception following Shenandoah’s performance will feature Iroquois food prepared with the supervision of members of the Onondaga Nation.