Onondaga youth embark on “Central Fire” canoe trip

To coincide with the Recital of the Great Law this summer, a group of youth from Onondaga territory in New York state is planning to partake in a canoe journey of their own. Called, Journey to the Central Fire, organizer Hickory Edwards (Onondaga, Turtle Clan), told the Two Row Times, “Co-Organizer, Charlotte Logan and I are part of the Onondaga Canoe and Kayak Club. We have been doing this every year now for six years. Other than planning this trip to coincide with the Peacemaker’s Journey and the recital of the Great Law, the greater purpose of this trip is to re-open the waterways and the old trade routes of generations past. We want to teach the youth and the future generations how to get between each nation, they way our ancestors did (without cars). We are re-learning all the ancient trails and passing that on to the youth. These ancient trade routes make it easier to connect with family and friends in other territories. ”

Edwards, whose Ogwehoweh name is Hannik, feels that many youth today are pre-occupied with modern technology such as cell phones, that they become disinterested in learning their traditions, “Our youth need to be looking down on Mother Earth more often but in between them and the ground are their cell phones and that gets in their way of learning and appreciation for Mother Earth. We need to appreciate more what the Creator has given us. That is why we do these long distance paddles every year; in the hope that the youth who participate get a deeper connection with Mother Earth.”

Similar to the Peacemaker’s Journey which is starting in Six Nations this year and re-tracing the footsteps of the Peacemaker on his legendary journey long ago, the Journey to the Central Fire will begin at Tonawanda River/Erie Canal and journey eastward, stopping at Tuscarora, Seneca, Oneida, Mohawk and Onondaga territories. Hannik explained, “We will begin our trip on July 13. This journey will connect each nation as we paddle towards the rising sun. On July 27, the plan is to paddle to Onondaga Lake where the Peacemaker landed, we will then walk to the Longhouse where we will listen to the Recital of the Great Law.” This is a 13-day trip according to Hannik.
Like the Peacemaker’s Journey, the Journey to the Central Fire also includes speakers along the way in each territory, “We just got word that Tom Porter will be speaking at one of our rest days on July 23 at the Seneca settlement near Seneca Falls, N.Y. We will have non-Native speakers as well who will talk about fracking, the clean up of Onondaga Lake, and how all that will affect us for generations to come,” said Hannik.

The Journey to the Central Fire organizers raise their own money for their trips, “We are part of the Onondaga Canoe and Kayak Club and we raise funds throughout the year for these long distance trips. We raise the money ourselves, we don’t ask for money from the Nation. We’ve been doing these trips for 6 years now. For each trip, we reach out west and come back east. We do it to regain ancient knowledge of the trail system that our ancestors used to connect with each other,” explained Hannik.

The trip welcomes people of all ages, not just youth. To sign up for the Journey to the Central Fire, which embarks July 13, please contact Hickory “Hannik” Edwards at onondagacanoeandkayakclub1613@gmail.com.

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