Conversations on Cultural Stewardship

Join us for a conversation about how to identify, protect, and enhance our important traditions, ways of life, cherished places, and vital relationships with each other and the wider world. Culture creates and strengthens communities. Understanding the complexity and power of culture gives communities agency. The concept of Cultural Stewardship teaches us to understand our personal cultural identity as well as that of our families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. This conversation series with local cultural stewards from our African American, Native American, and Muslim American communities encourages us to observe, listen, document, and work closely with individuals and communities that make up our region’s cultural ecosystem.

  • Oct


    Conversation on Cultural Stewardship: African American Foodways, Occupation and Oral History

    This conversation will feature Christa Heyward, Executive Director of the Elmira Center for Cultural Advancement, Susan Knox, local restaurateur, and Will Wickham, Musical Director of the Cantata Singers. Listen to panelists share about their work documenting and preserving African American foodways, work, and oral history in Elmira, NY. 

    Meet the Panelists

    Christa Heyward is a native of Pine City with a passion for community development. She brings her experience in project management, building connections, and entrepreneurial mindset to the mission of Elmira Center for Cultural Advancement (ECCA). As the director of ECCA, Christa has conducted a oral history interviews with Elmira’s African American Elders.

    Susan Knox is an Elmira-based restaurateur, master pastry chef, and a co-owner along with her son of the newly-opened WMC North located on Water St. in Elmira. Sue’s family has for multiple generations worked in food service as head chefs and caters at local restaurants, including the Mark Twain Hotel, Sullivan Park, Elmira Country Club, Economic Opportunity Program, and more.

    Will Wickham is a music teacher and composer who currently works as an Adjunct Professor of Music at Corning Community College and, as the result of a Creatives Rebuild New York Artist Employment Grant, is in the early weeks of a two-year Composer in Residence program with the Cantata Singers, an Elmira based community choral ensemble. Wickham is proud to have been born and raised on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes wine region, and has significant experience as a fruit grower and winemaker. He has also worked extensively in area theater with experience in music direction, stage direction, set design and construction, acting, and playing in pit bands. The recent Covid pandemic offered the opportunity to learn the use of video and audio editing software which has led to the addition of media production skills to his resume.

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    Thursday, October 06, 2022, 6:00 pm—7:30 pm

    The Rockwell Museum

  • Oct


    Conversation on Cultural Stewardship: Healing from the Thomas Indian School

    This program focuses on the ongoing work of Native American communities in Western New York to document, remember and heal from the atrocities of the Thomas Indian School, a boarding school for Native youth on the Cattaraugus Territory near Irving, NY run by Presbyterian missionaries. This evening will be led by artists, scholars, and tradition bearers of the Onödowa’ga:’ (Seneca) Nation, including artists Jocelyn Jones and Hayden Haynes, Dr. Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, Dr. Joe Stahlman (Seneca-Iroquois National Museum-Onöhsagwë:de‘ Culture Center), Aedzaniyo Seneca, and Lucy Ramirez (President of the Thomas Indian School Alumni).

    Meet the Panelists

    Hayden Haynes (Onödowa’ga:’ – Deer Clan) is an active artist and the Museum Manager at the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Allegany Territory. This museum is Native-owned and operated by Haudenosaunee people. Haynes has spent many years refining his antler carving work, an art form that has been practiced for centuries across the world. He recently created a series of photographs in collaboration with model Jocelyn Jones to spread awareness via social media about the Thomas Indian School (TIS). She wears Haynes’ carved antler earrings in the photographs.

    Dr. Alyssa Mt. Pleasant is an expert in Native American and Indigenous studies. She is currently Assistant Professor of Native American Studies in the Department of Africana and American Studies at SUNY Buffalo. Mt. Pleasant’s scholarship focuses on Haudenosaunee history during the 18th and 19th centuries. Her broader teaching and research interests include early American history; American Indian social and intellectual histories; settler colonialism, especially as it relates to legal and educational systems; conceptualizations of space, place and land tenure in Indian Country; and public history. Throughout her career, Mt. Pleasant has worked to build programs in Native American studies and raise awareness of the need for the U.S. education system to share more information about American Indian histories, cultures and presence. She is a descendant of the Tuscarora Nation, one of the six Haudenosaunee nations.

    Dr. Joe Stahlman is the Director of Seneca Nation’s Seneca-Iroquois National Museum-Onöhsagwë:de‘ Culture Center. Joe is a scholar and researcher of Tuscarora descent. He has over 20 years of research experience working with First Peoples. His research focuses on culture and history, as well as ongoing socio-economic and health & wellness related endeavors with Native communities. He takes an active role in addressing the space Native peoples occupy in North American archaeology and cultural resource management. He regularly talks on the need to promote equity among all peoples in North American society through a number of reconciliatory processes which are inclusive for all and empowers people to express agency through creative and intellectual endeavors.  

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    Thursday, October 20, 2022, 6:00 pm—7:30 pm

    Stanley “Sully” Huff Heritage Center, 12857 Route 438, Irving, New York 14081

  • Nov


    Conversation on Cultural Stewardship with Islamic Association of the Finger Lakes

    This conversation will feature members of the Islamic Association of the Finger Lakes (IAFL). IAFL serves the Muslim community of the greater Finger Lakes region within the Southern Tier in NY state, including, but not limited to, Horseheads, Big Flats, Corning, Elmira, and other areas. IAFL seeks to provide an amiable atmosphere to the Muslims of the area for regular prayers, and other activities associated with the Muslim calendar. IAFL also seeks to build relationships with communities of other faiths in the Finger Lakes region. 

    Wednesday, November 09, 2022, 5:30 pm—7:00 pm

    The Rockwell Museum

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