The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s visit at Le Moyne
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s visit at Le Moyne
Kamilla Shahzad, Staff Writer • May 17, 2024

On April 18 th , 2024, Le Moyne College had the privilege of hosting a special guest, acclaimed author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, who delighted...

Column: The Long Journey at Le Moyne
Column: The Long Journey at Le Moyne
Mary Anne Winfield, Guest Writer • May 17, 2024

I never expected to be a “senior” senior at Le Moyne College. My first introduction to the college was in the 1970’s. I was a two-year...

Theta Chi house at Colgate University
Column: Why I want to see Greek life at Le Moyne College.
Payton Hirsch, Guest Writer • May 17, 2024

At Le Moyne College there is no presence of “Greek Life,” which has left many wondering why. According to Joseph Della Posta, the school’s...

Photo courtesy of Le Moyne; Images of Officer Jensen, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Lt. Hoosock posted at memorial service.
‘A True Leader and Phenomenal Teammate’: Remembering Fallen Officer, a Le Moyne Graduate
Stephen Moore and Aidan Clark May 8, 2024

The Rev. William Dolan wants you to know what the community lost when Michael Jensen, a Syracuse police officer and a Le Moyne graduate, was...

Dr. James Carroll: The Donation that Rewrote Le Moyne  College’s History
Dr. James Carroll: The Donation that Rewrote Le Moyne College’s History
Legende McGrath, Guest Writer • May 7, 2024

In late March, Le Moyne College, specifically the College of Arts and Sciences, received a $12 million donation provided by Le Moyne alumnus...

Flags and Acknowledgements: Le Moyne Takes Steps Toward Reconciliation with the Haudenosaunee


“We honor the Onondaga Nation, the original people on whose land Le Moyne College stands.” You may have heard this recited at school-sponsored events in recent years in an effort to acknowledge and honor the indigenous people and begin the process of reckoning with the nation. 

In addition, following renovations last year, Le Moyne began flying a purple and white flag along with a United States Flag, a New York State Flag, and the college flag. This is the Haudenosaunee flag, representative of the Native American population of Central New York. 

The tree and four boxes “symbolize the peaceful unification of five formerly-warring nations – the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk – into the Haudenosaunee Confederacy over a thousand years ago,” according to Syracuse Cultural Workers

Le Moyne College and the Jesuits have a complex relationship with the Onondaga Nation dating back to colonial times. The school is named after Father Simon Le Moyne, who came to Central New York with the intent of converting the Iroquois to Catholicism. Along with other missionaries, he was considered the “ambassador of peace” by the Jesuits. 

However, to the Haudenosaunee, they were “responsible for ecocide and ethnocide. They came in and our nations were lost,” according to Onondaga Nation faithkeeper Oren Lyons in a 2018 Catholic Sun article.

Le Moyne history professor and member of the Skänoñh Center’s executive board Dr. Holly Rine pointed out that most schools have a land recognition statement at this point in time, and that there is discourse about whether more responsibility should be taken by the institutions built on Native American land.

In May of 2018, the school presented an honorary degree to Oren Lyons, a representative of the Onondaga Nation. In addition, Dr. Rine credits former professor Mary MacDonald and Father David McCallum for their work toward creating a dialogue between Le Moyne and the Haudenosaunee. Along with the work of her colleagues, Dr. Rine has a personal, long-standing relationship with the Onondaga Nation and has played an active part in maintaining cultural awareness on campus. 

“Some people say it’s a start, some people say it’s enough, there’s a lot of discussion about performative allyship and performative support,” said Dr. Rine in reference to the land acknowledgment. “I think Le Moyne is different in that we’re a Jesuit school named after a 17th-century Jesuit who came to civilize the people.”

Reminders of this fraught history are sprinkled all throughout campus, from the arrowheads included in the college seal representing the five nations of the Haudenosaunee, to the townhouses named after Jesuit “martyr” missionaries allegedly murdered by Native Americans. The latter caused a student-led protest, resulting in the school canceling classes for a day so students could attend required seminars on Iroquois history. Also, a tree symbolizing peace and friendship between Jesuits and Iroquois was planted near the townhouses, according to the Catholic Sun article. However, the townhouses still bear the names of the missionaries to this day. 

Many campuses across the country have started taking baby steps such as land recognition statements to begin the process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. “History for the Onondagas is not in the past, it is in the present,” according to Dr. Rine. “There is no such thing as a ‘historical past’ with this.” 

The Onondaga Nation fights for their land to this day. For instance, they are currently in World Court arguing that the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua was violated. This treaty promised the Nation 2.5 million acres of land, which would encompass “the cities of Binghamton and Syracuse, as well as more than 30 state forests, dozens of lakes and countless streams and tributaries,” according to a New York Times article. 

While the government has tried to trade off with some Native Tribes with reparations like licensing to operate casinos or to sell cannabis, the Onondaga Nation has made it very clear that they are only looking for one thing: land. This isn’t to say that the Nation is looking to uproot the Central New York area, they just would want access to more land outside of their reservation.

Le Moyne is built on the territory they are fighting for, but regardless of what happens in court, the college will always stand on Onondaga land. This begs the question of what the school’s responsibility is regarding their relationship with the Onondaga Nation. Dr. Rine has highlighted the responsibility of educating the current students on the intricate story, both past and present.

“What is our role in this story?” she asked. “That’s the big question we need to ask as we look at the land acknowledgement and see the flag flying — we can’t stop there.”

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