Not far from Bare and South Hills on Canandaigua Lake, the area recognized as the birthplace of the Seneca Nation, Peter Jemison shared the history and contributions of the Seneca Nation Sept. 2. Jemison, Ganondagan State Historic Site director, spoke to about 150 attendees during the 26th annual Seneca Heritage Day at historic Overackers Corners Schoolhouse in Middlesex.
Another speaker, Ronnie Reitter, talked about women’s roles in the Iroquois Confederacy and their influence on early feminists.
Members of the Allegany River Dancers, wearing traditional garb, performed several social dances, inviting guests to join in for the Corn Dance and the Iroquois Alligator Dance.
“We want to present our authentic cultural traditions that have been passed down to us verbally and in some cases recorded,” said Jemison. “By dancing it and speaking it, we ingrain it in our memories more.”
That evening, a large bonfire was lit on top of Bare Hill, signaling the start of the annual ring of fire around Canandaigua Lake. “I always reflect back on Arthur Parker (1881-1955) recreating this and bringing people to the top of Bare Hill,” said Jemison.