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Preserving for the future

The Oneida Museum
The Oneida Museum features a variety of artwork from Oneida artists as well as creators from the rest of the 6 Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy: Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora. Gracelyn Giese photo

By Gracelyn Giese

Contributing Writer

GREEN BAY – First opening in 1979, the Oneida Museum has been an important cornerstone for the Oneida Nation community.

The museum has dedicated itself to preserving and protecting the history and traditions of the Oneida people.

One way in which they accomplish this goal is through the promotion of Oneida and Haudenosaunee — the alliance of Six Nations — artists.

The Oneida Museum features a variety of artwork from Oneida artists and the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, including Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora.

These tribes were all relocated from the New York area and are united by a similar language.

Outside of the Six Nations, the museum also sells art from a variety of tribes across America.

“COVID has affected Native vendors, we may not be able to get certain items from local vendors due to their capacity,” explained Edmund Blackthunder, gift shop coordinator.

The museum includes a variety of art.

“Currently, the gift shop features local Oneida artists proficient in Haudenosaunee Raised Beadwork, pottery, silverwork and more recently graphic design,” noted Stacy Coon, director of the Oneida Museum.

In an effort to support authentic Native American and Oneida art, the Oneida Museum follows the federal guidelines put in place by The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.

Coon shared that by supporting Oneida artists they are able to “play a valuable role in fostering and perpetuating the cultural significance and importance that our traditional artforms have played in our culture for thousands of years.”

The support of artists from the Oneida Nation serves as a method of education and appreciation.

By preserving the culture and artistic practices of the Oneida Nation it is able to be passed on to younger generations.

Not only does the museum feature adults and children alike speaking the Oneida language in a video exhibit, but the Oneida Museum has also worked to extend their outreach into the classroom by hosting traditional pottery workshops.

Future generations will be able to expand their knowledge at a proposed relocation and opening of The Oneida Nation Museum and Cultural Center in 2026, which is currently located at W892 County Hwy EE, De Pere.

Currently the Oneida Museum is working on launching an online sales platform to better share the talents of artists.

More information regarding the art and artists of the Oneida Museum and Gift Shop can be found at oneida-nsn.gov/our-ways/museum or their Facebook page “Oneida Nation Museum.”

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