SHAKO:WI CULTURAL CENTER

Constructed in 1993, the center stands as a testament to the rich lives, talents and heroism of the Oneida people. The building is named in memory of Richard Chrisjohn (Wolf Clan), former Nation Representative, whose Oneida name means “he gives.” That spirit of giving is what the facility is all about – it is designed to give visitors and future generations sense of their roots and heritage.

EXPLORE ONEIDA CULTURE

A hand-crafted white pine log building on Nation Homelands, the Shako:wi Cultural Center helps guests experience thousands of years of Oneida history, from the key role they played as allies of General George Washington during the Revolutionary War to the current day, as the Oneida people have worked to revitalize their community and regain control of more than 13,000 acres of ancestral Oneida homelands – more than they have had since 1824.

Explore the depths of Oneida tradition and culture. Feel the power of Wampum – a sacred beaded substance, used to fashion belts and gauntlets, with a healing presence meant to sanctify agreements and traditions. Absorb and marvel at the craftsmanship involved in creating lacrosse sticks by hand. These are but some of the relics and mementos that span the Oneida lifetime and that are on display at the Shako:wi Cultural Center.

EXHIBITS

Ká:lahse’ – a Haudenosaunee Tradition

Lacrosse has been called the quickest game on two feet and the fastest growing sport in the world – to the Oneidas, the game has long been known in their ancient tradition as ká:lahse’. The Creator’s game was played for fun by the Oneidas and other Iroquois, but the game was also a spiritual celebration with deep meaning.

Learn how the game developed through time during a documentary in the Native perspective, as well as see the shaping of cured hickory wood into a lacrosse stick. “It’s more than just a stick,” Turtle Clan Council Member Dale Rood explained. “We believe that it has a life of its own. It’s the Nation’s goal to teach people, to show them that lacrosse is not only a game we play, but it’s significant to our culture.”

Oneida Nation Lacrosse

The Oneida Art of Basketry

Once the Oneidas lost their land base, making and selling baskets became a source of survival. View one of the best-documented basket collections, including nearly 90 baskets dating from the 1800s and early 1900s. Over time, the baskets became more elaborately decorated, reflecting market changes and artistic innovation.

Wampum: validating the spoken message

Wampum attests to the truth, importance and significance of a message. To our forefathers, wampum was a symbolic material linked, in ancient tradition, to the Peacemaker’s founding of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. When beads were collected into strands or woven together as belts, the wampum stood for the authority of a spoken message.

Today, it contains the best thinking of our people from the Peacemaker to the present. It represents who we are and reminds us where we have been. Wampum means an agreement to hold onto our traditions because our history and laws are wrapped up in it. To us, it is sacred substance with powerful healing presence.

Oneida Industries

Oneida Industries is one of six panoramic displays created by renowned anthropologist Arthur Parker to depict Haudenosaunee life in Central New York. One display was devoted to each of the Six Nations in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Oneida Industries is the most elaborate of these displays, comprised of six life-sized plaster figures (cast from living Haudenosaunee models) in a leafy forest setting.

Each figure is engaged in a different traditional craft: making a basket, shaping a stone arrowhead, carving a wooden bowl, making a moccasin, making a ceramic pot and weaving a tumpline (a broad strap passed across the forehead and over the shoulders for carrying a load on the back).

Outreach Program

In addition to tours and lectures, Oneidas preserve and pass on their heritage by connecting with students through storytelling and activities as part of the Oneida Nation Cultural Outreach program.

Students explore the Shako:wi Cultural Center, where they will learn what The Great Law of Peace means. They also get the opportunity to hold a war club and to visit the Oneida Indian Nation’s Cookhouse. There, students make a cornhusk doll, and learn the Oneida words for turtle, wolf, and bear, and how to count to five.

To schedule a visit call (315) 829-8801.

Contact

Shako:wi Cultural Center
5 Territory Rd
Oneida, NY 13421

(315) 829-8801

Hours & Info

Hours:
April 2 to November 30 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.
December 1 to April 1 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday

Admission: Group tours available. Admission is free.

Additional info: The Oneida Nation welcomes all school groups and businesses to take part in the Cultural Outreach program. Presentations can be given on site if a group cannot travel.

Directions

From East/West:
NYS Thruway to Exit 33, Verona NY
Left on Rt. 365 – Right on Rt. 5 – Left on Rt. 46
About 2 1/2 miles to Territory Road.
Left at flashing yellow light.

From North/South:
I-81 to NYS Thruway to Exit 33, Verona NY
Left on Rt. 365 – Right on Rt. 5 – Left on Rt. 46
About 2 1/2 miles to Territory Road.
Left at flashing yellow light.