#Esganye2k16 social media challenge unites Six Nations Confederacy

TONAWANDA, N.Y. – The year’s first major Facebook challenge doesn’t involve diving undressed into a pile of snow or having a bucket of ice water poured over our heads — it involves a love of Rotinonhsyón:ni culture expressed by our young leaders ready to share our beautiful women’s dance social songs with the world.

#Esganye2k16 began with a Facebook post by Brett Logan of Tonawanda, N.Y. on Jan. 28, wanting to see a different trending topic take hold, aside from the typical “five pictures that make me feel beautiful” posts that tend to circulate.

From there, Logan had tagged a few friends from Onondaga and Akwesasne to get it started. Soon enough, Facebook users all across the Six Nations Confederacy busted out their rattles and water drums to post videos of themselves singing traditional and original women’s dance songs, nominating their friends and family across all of our communities to participate in the challenge.

If you type in #esganye2k16 in the Facebook search engine, you will be gifted with video after video of social songs, our language and culture being shared loud and proud. Shares, likes, and comments of encouragement — not to mention thousands upon thousands of video views — have brought our Rotinonhsyón:ni songs to a new level of appreciation in the digital age.

“I don’t personally have a favorite video. I think it’s good to see everyone singing our songs and even some people are sharing their songs that they have made up,” says Nate Sullivan, one of Logan’s friends who had been tagged in the challenge.

“I see people’s statuses saying how good it is to hear our songs being sung,” said Sullivan. “It’s a good feeling even to see people who aren’t really big on singing. It gives them confidence to try and peoples’ feedback is always good.”

“I had been wondering if I’d get nominated,” says Karonhyawake Jeff Doreen, who points out that tsyonathonwisen’néha is how you say women’s dance in Mohawk, and esganye is women’s dance in Cayuga.

“Lotunt nominated me and he wrote a song, so I thought I’d write one as well. This is the first Esganye song I have ever written and was surprised at how easy it flowed out as I wrote it,” Doreen said.

Doreen says his favorite video is by Teha’nikonhrathe from Tyendinaga. “He’s young, he has a great voice and I particularly like the women’s songs that are written in a minor key. The songs in the minor keys make me feel connected somehow.”

While many common Facebook challenges are used to either bring awareness to an issue, or out of complete novelty (planking and cinnamon challenge are examples), it’s refreshing to see that we can use Facebook challenges to bring culture into a space where there are no limits to exposure. Thanks to #esganye2k16, anyone can listen to social songs all day long and the longer it trends, the closer our communities become. It’s one big social media sing!

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