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SUNY-ESF to work closer with native people on environmental sustainability

Tom Magnarelli
Robin Kimmerer speaks to the crowd at SUNY-ESF. She is the director of the college's Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.

Students and faculty at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse are becoming more interested in the Native American approach to the environment. The college is making more of an effort to connect with the Onondaga Nation and the Haudenosaunee people.

SUNY-ESF already has an undergraduate minor in native peoples and the environment and next year will announce a graduate program in the same area. Officials from the school are trying to increase awareness that their campus is located on former Onondaga Nation land. A stone monument will be unveiled in the near future recognizing this fact. Robin Kimmerer is the director of the college's Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, which collaborates with indigenous nations on environmental sustainability.

“We recognize that we stand not only on Onondaga Land but that we stand on the shoulders of indigenous environmental knowledge and wisdom,” Kimmer said. “In the spirit of reciprocity we offer the contributions of environmental science as a partner in this vital work for our common future.”

This comes as the Skä·noñh - Great Law of Peace Center on Onondaga Lake opens on Saturday. What was formerly known as Sainte Maire among the Iroquois will feature exhibits by the Haudenosaunee people, which includes the Onondaga Nation, explaining their history and values. It will also continue to feature the re-created 17th century French Jesuit mission.