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‘Gayaneñhsä•ʔgo•nah’ by Onondaga Artist Brandon Lazore Makes Its Official Debut on Shaw Quad
On Monday, Oct. 10, members of the campus community and representatives from the Onondaga Nation convened on the Kenneth A. Shaw Quadrangle to witness the unveiling of “Gayaneñhsä•ʔgo•nah” (Guy-AH-na Set GO-na, which translates to “the Great Law of Peace”), a painting at the focal point of a larger art installation that has been years in the making.
Brandon “Ganyada•kda” Lazore, Onondaga Nation, snipe clan, was selected by a working group of Indigenous students, alumni and staff to create an enduring and prominent piece of art on the campus landscape acknowledging the University’s presence on ancestral lands and celebrating Haudenosaunee contributions to the Central New York area and the United States at large.
In front of a crowd of around 100 people on Indigenous Peoples Day, Lazore officially revealed “Gayaneñhsä•ʔgo•nah,” saying, “I’m so happy with this installation. I love looking at it and it gives me a warm feeling in my heart that everyone can see this and enjoy it–future students, alumni and even people who come up to the football game or Syracuse residents might walk by it and learn something.”
Lazore spoke to the elements of the installation that surround the painting, including six stone bollards (representing the six nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy), a white pine tree (symbolic of peace), and purple and white flowers (a nod to the purple and white clam shells used in the Haudenosaunee wampum).
He also gave a detailed overview of the artwork, which is rich with Haudenosaunee symbolism, showcases figures critical to the Haudenosaunee creation story, and celebrates and educates viewers on the influence the Haudenosaunee had on the founding of the United States and the womens’ rights movement.
Lazore says he wants anyone who sees it to learn more about the Haudenosaunee people and their contributions. “I want them to know that we’re still here, we’re still present…and we continue with our ways and our peace,” he said. “We continue with our Haudenosaunee ceremonies and have overcome a lot of obstacles to stand here today and let you know that we’re still here.”
The event was emceed by Tammy Bluewolf-Kennedy, Oneida Nation, wolf clan, admissions counselor and Native American liaison in the Office of Admissions. Tadadaho Sidney Hill, Onondaga Nation, delivered the Thanksgiving address, an offering of greetings and thanks to the natural world, and remarks were given by Chancellor Kent Syverud and Danielle Smith ’18, G’20, Onondaga Nation, hawk clan, who was part of a group that advocated for the installation as students with Indigenous Students at Syracuse and continued to work on the project as an alumna.
“I want to add how very proud I am of our students for their commitment and dedication, even after graduation, for remaining committed to our Indigenous community here,” said Bluewolf-Kennedy as the ceremony drew to a close. “This art installation is huge. It honors the Onondaga Nation, its history, its presence, its future on these lands.”
Speaking directly to the students and alumni who advocated for the installation, she added, “This is part of your legacy to our future Indigenous students, and it’s really going to raise the visibility of our Indigenous community here. … We hope that this is going to invite reflection that fosters meaningful and accountable relationships, to create a resurgence of learning, opportunity and action.”
“This is a very significant addition to the Shaw Quadrangle,” said Chancellor Syverud in his remarks. “This artwork honors over 1,000 years of Haudenosaunee history. Indeed, a history that long pre-dates this Quad, these buildings and this University. It also solidifies a future commitment of our community, this University, to the Haudenosaunee and the Onondaga. … It is a direct result of our students’ passion and courage. The University thanks our students for all you’ve done to make Syracuse University a more welcoming place, including for the Indigenous students of today and for the thousands we hope will follow you.”
The original painting by Lazore is on display in the collections highlight exhibition at the Syracuse University Art Museum in the Shaffer Art Building. To further their education, members of the campus community are encouraged to visit the Skä•noñh Great Law of Peace Center on Onondaga Lake Parkway, which tells the story of the Haudenosaunee people from their perspective. The center was founded by Professor Phil Arnold, associate professor and chair of religion in the College of Arts and Sciences.