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Inside Shako:wi Cultural Center, Oneida, NY

The Shako:wi Cultural Center, south of the village of Oneida on Route 46, is a museum devoted to the history of the Oneida Indian nation, one of the original Five Nations of the Iroquois League of Nations. The Oneidas were the only Iroquois tribe to side with the Americans during the American Revolution (and they paid heavily for it, too). Because of their sacrificial service to our cause, the United States of America reserved land for and to the Oneidas, and through it we pledge to live side by side with them in peace.

I have written extensively about the Oneida Indian Nation and the American Revolution. You can look at my Travel Archives for articles relating to this topic, or do a search for “Oneida” in my sidebar. The history is indeed fascinating.

The Oneidas have constructed a beautiful museum of their history. We have visited Shako:wi several times; the most recent visit was to meet with a few representatives of the Nation regarding my curiosity about the history (and location) of the Oneida Stone. You can also read more about the history of the Oneida Stone here.

I was honored with permission to snap a few photos of artifacts and displays in Shako:wi when I visited. Here are some of my favorites!

Firstly, this is a display showing the Treaty of Canandaigua, the treaty that reserves the lands for the Oneidas and pledges peace between us. Notice how the Indians signed it in their blood.

Treaty of Canandaigua

There are several displays devoted to Chief Bill Honyoust Rockwell, of the Bear Clan. He died in 1960. He was a leader of the Oneidas; his old property is behind the Cultural Center. Tradition has it that his great-great-great grandmother, Polly Cooper, helped George Washington that bitter winter at Valley Forge, by traveling all the way to Pennsylvania from Oneida, NY, to bring his army corn. Mrs. Washington is said to have given Polly a beautiful shawl for her service.

chief rockwell

I love this. This is a display of the kastowa- the headdresses of the Iroquois tribes. Eagle feathers were positioned on leather caps to distinguish one tribe from another.

shakowi iroquois headdress

A painting titled, The Great Law of Peace, depicts how seriously the Oneidas took the peace treaty with the Americans.

Tree of Peace painting

Law of Peace

Upstairs, the museum displays many handiwork of the Oneidas, including their beautiful basket weaving. The Oneidas were renowned for their beautiful baskets.

shkw2

A place to relax.

Shakowichairs

It’s a wonderful museum. New York State children should not forget the sacrifices our forefathers and their allies made for our freedom. Admission is free. You can also see more of my photos at newyorktraveler.blogspot.com/2010/03/shakowi-cultural-center-photos.html.

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About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (3)

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  1. Joseph DiMaggio says:

    Looks to be a beautiful and informative museum. My wife ,it is said in her family, has Oneida blood in her heritage. Hope to maybe visit the Oneida homeland come summer.

  2. Summer Ouvry says:

    My grandfather was William H Rockwell born Feb 12th 1920 and my mother was Charlotte Elaine Rockwell. I have visited here and it was beautiful! I would love to re visit with photos to share.

  3. […] American history, Oneida is definitely the place to visit. The Oneida Indian Nation maintains the Shako:wi Cultural Center, a museum and learning center that showcases the Oneida Indian culture and their participation as […]