The flag of the Six Nations should have been part of the flags flying in the International Peace Garden from the beginning, several speakers at a ceremony raising the flag today acknowledged, but for various reasons, with no blame cast, that didn't happen, the speakers said.
Now that it's part of the display, it will always be part of the display, at least as long as she has a say in it, said Paula Savage.
Speakers noted that the Peace Garden commemorates the War of 1812, a very bad era for our region's indigenous people, people who had been on this land long before then, long before "Columbus sailed the ocean blue" in 1492, and perhaps going back as far as ancient mammals like the mastodons. The people of the Six Nations have suffered many hardships, but remain proud.
"We are strong and we're still here, which is why we wanted a flag in Batavia," said Melissa Smith, president of the Tonawanda Historical Society.
Al White spoke of the need to protect the land and called on the young Native Americans in the audience to set aside their video games and the trappings of commercialized America and embrace their people's relationship with the Creator.
"All of our land used to look like this little garden here," White said. "It was our land and we took care of it because our Creator told us it was our duty to take care of it. It is our sacred duty. I'm grateful for this flag over here, but my flag is all around me because my flag is the land of the Creator."
Kathrine Sike and Al Parker raise the flag.
The Seneca Singers
Frank Panepento plays the melody for "Amazing Grace." (The song sung by the Seneca Singers was the same melody with words in the Seneca language.)