Across the bay on Indigenous People’s Day

15 Oct

A very meaningful event took place on Monday at the Bay Outlet Bridge, honoring the indigenous people who have lived on and cared for this area since long before Webster’s earliest settlers arrived.

The ceremony definitely flew under my radar, but thankfully my friend Kathy Taddeo was there, and submitted this report and photos:

It wasn’t exactly Webster, but it could be… someday.

Last Monday, October 10, some 50 bleary-eyed people of all ages gathered at sunrise on the bridge that soon will again span the Irondequoit Bay Outlet between Webster and Irondequoit. They came from far and near to celebrate the first Indigenous Peoples Day in the United States and to honor in particular the Haudenosaunee who have long been loyal stewards of this land.

The organizers of this celebration introduced native language speakers, storytellers and musicians, calling the area surrounding the bay a sacred space, the likely landing for the Peacemaker who came here to heal and unite the warring hearts of the Five Nations. A local wampum belt artist marked this historic day by creating a belt symbolizing the peaceful alliance of all people, native and non-native.

The audience respectfully listened and learned, perhaps absorbing the peace of the dawning day and the presenters themselves. After refreshments, the group headed to the lake for a beach clean-up, symbolically continuing the work of the Haudenosaunee.

I had come representing my 25 fourth/graders at Iroquois School who in 2001 had persuaded the Irondequoit Town Board to erect the marker that has stood near the west side of the bridge for 21 years. Designed by the children, the marker honors the Haudenosaunee and their stewardship of the land and water we call home. (Yes, you guys, I brought your banner, so you were there in spirit!)

Irondequoit Town board Councilwoman Patrina Freeman had spoken during the ceremony of her determination that our indigenous peoples continue to be honored with historic markers in Irondequoit. We later talked of our mutual interest in making that happen in our respective towns and a collaboration was born on the spot.

It’s our hope that through “Hands Across the Waters,” Irondequoit and Webster will have more to celebrate come Indigenous Peoples Day 2023.

(submitted by Kathy Taddeo)

Here’s a closer look at the text and illustrations on that historical marker, from the original artist’s rendering. I’ve never seen this marker, despite the many times I have been up at the bridge. I’m definitely going to seek it out next time I’m in the area.

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(posted 10/15/2022)

4 Responses to “Across the bay on Indigenous People’s Day”

  1. David Whitlock October 16, 2022 at 6:18 am #

    Good job….have more info about West Webster indigenous . Give a shout when bored – Dave Whitlock, Corning Park cell 585-626-5723, zero hurry, but, I think interesting

  2. readmybook2002 October 16, 2022 at 8:29 am #

    I didn’t even know about this. Thank you for including this in your blog. (I guess it was on the Irondequoit side, so another reason to open the bridge up to traffic on Oct 1st instead of Nov 1st.) Safe haven? NO boaters this month like usual.

    • websterontheweb October 16, 2022 at 9:06 am #

      Yes, I would have like to know about it ahead of time too. They’ll probably do it next year; we’ll have to keep an eye out for it. Thanks for commenting!

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