Skä-ñonh Great Law of Peace Center / Onondaga Historical Association

Liverpool, NY
April 18 – May 30, 2025

The Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center is a Haudenosaunee Cultural Center focused on telling the story of the Native peoples of Central New York. The history is told through the lens of the Onondaga Nation and covers topics such as Creation, European Contact, The Great Law of Peace, and more. The Onondagas, or People of the Hills, are the keepers of the Central Fire and are the spiritual and political center of the Haudenosaunee.

Mission: Onondaga Historical Association exists to inspire people’s understanding that the history we share as a community is the foundation for our future together. Our purpose is to educate and to encourage the exploration, appreciation, and utilization of the past in order to add value throughout our community and bring the great stories of Onondaga County’s history to a worldwide audience.

Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) was founded in 1863 with a mission to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit the history of Syracuse and Onondaga County. In 2015, OHA developed the Skä-noñh Great Law of Peace Center in collaboration with the Onondaga Nation, Onondaga County, academic partners and organizations allied with the Onondaga Nation. The Center, located along the shore of Onondaga Lake, shares the perspective, values, and history of the Haudenosaunee people, on whose unceded, ancestral lands we are located.

The Central New York region is home to the Onondaga Nation, the Central Fire of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy - considered to be the oldest continuous participatory democracy in the world. Our exhibitions, artifacts, and oral history videos inform visitors to the Skä-noñh Center about the influence of Onondaga on our founding fathers, as well as on the women’s suffrage movement. These materials also provide insight into the Haudenosaunee values of an equitable relationship to the environment and the sovereignty of the Six Nations that make up the Confederacy.

OHA’s collections, archives and exhibitions are used to educate visitors, students, researchers, and artists about the people and social, political, and religious movements that have contributed to our present-day democracy and the rights of citizens. This includes New York’s General Association document, signed by 100 delegates in 1775 seeking the “salvation of the Rights and Liberties of America” and marking a fundamental move from loyalty to Britain and toward a republican form of government - an important advance toward independence.

In the 1800’s Syracuse witnessed the Abolition Movement, Women’s Suffrage, the Underground Railroad and the Colored Conventions Movement of the antebellum north. Leaders of twentieth-century movements and organizations such as the Congress of Racial Equity (CORE), the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the American Indian Law Alliance (AILA) as well as the home to activists Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation, and Karen DeCrow, president of the National Organization of Women (NOW).

OHA hopes this designation as a host site will allow the organization to deepen visitors’ understanding of the communities and cultures that shape our present-day form of governance, elevating the history, values, and contributions of people and movements who continue to influence future generations.

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