Iroquois midwinter rites are focus of George-Kanentiio’s talk Jan. 11 at the OPL

Oneida Public Library

Historian, journalist and Mohawk Nation member, Doug George-Kanentiio, will talk of the rituals, dances, games and many meanings of the traditional Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony on Thursday, January 11, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. at Oneida Public Library, 220 Broad St., Oneida.

The Midwinter Ceremony traditionally takes place in an Iroquois longhouse five days after the first full moon after the winter solstice. The ceremonies may last seven days up to several weeks, depending on the custom of the individual Iroquois or Haudenosaunee nation.

Each day of the Midwinter Ceremony, the local Iroquois community gathers in its communal longhouse to offer prayers and sing sacred songs, and the period is marked by special dances and rituals that offer spiritual renewal and hope for a bountiful season.

“It is truly amazing that such events as the Midwinter Ceremony have survived after decades when such events were forcibly suppressed by the external authorities,” George-Kanentiio said. “Communities such as the Akwesasne (Mohawk) may well take comfort in knowing a new generation has committed itself to carrying on rituals which are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.”

George-Kanentiio, himself an Akwesasne Mohawk, is the author of “Iroquois on Fire” and “Iroquois Culture and Commentary.” He is also co-author with his wife Joanne Shenandoah of the picture book “Skywoman: Legends of the Iroquois,” published in 1998. A graduate of Syracuse University and the Antioch School of Law, he has been an editor of “Akwesasne Notes” and a contributor to many national newspapers.

The January 11 talk is free and open to the public. For more information, stop by the Oneida Library, 220 Broad St. or call 363-3050.

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