Oneida Indian Nation Homelands (July 21, 2022) – The Utica Zoo recently installed the new Story Walk display developed by the Oneida Indian Nation and Colgate University in its children’s zoo section near the main entrance. Featuring the Oneida language-learning children’s book, The Legend of How the Bear Lost His Tail, the Story Walk is a cooperative effort to bring Haudenosaunee culture to life for younger generations.

The Oneida Indian Nation partnered with Colgate University’s Longyear Museum of Anthropology and the Picker Art Gallery to produce large outdoor reading stations, known as a Story Walk, which is intended to promote reading and physical activity in young children. Each page from the book is made into a temporary sign that serves as a ‘stop and read’ station to encourage children to finish the story and learn two Oneida words: Ohkwa:lí̲ (pronounced “oh gwal”; “Bear”) and Skʌhnáksʌʼ̲ (pronounced “skuh noks”; “Fox”).

Haudenosaunee legends are handed down from generation to generation and offer life lessons through storytelling. The Legend of How the Bear Lost His Tail teaches kids about humility and the pitfalls of boasting. The Story Walk will be on display through the end of August alongside the red fox exhibit, one of the main characters in the book. Families will be able to engage with the story and learn more about the Utica Zoo’s conservation efforts.

“Bringing our stories to younger generations and introducing the Oneida language to the community in an interactive way has been a wonderful experience,” said language instructor, Chelsea Jocko (Wolf Clan), on behalf of the Oneida Indian Nation’s Language Program. “Schools and libraries in the area have shared in our excitement in producing these books and we are happy to have the Utica Zoo assist in our outreach.”

“As a longstanding member of MANY, the Utica Zoo couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Oneida Indian Nation, Madison-Oneida BOCES and Colgate University,” said Andria Heath, Executive Director for the Utica Zoo. “The ability to live through words and expand one’s life through reading is so valuable and hosting this project to learn about the Oneida culture and heritage is a privilege.”

The Legend of How the Bear Lost His Tail is part of a series of books for Oneida language learning and preservation. It was produced in collaboration with Madison-Oneida BOCES. Through this partnership, the Oneida Indian Nation has been able to make learning materials about Oneida culture and heritage available for the greater community.

This Story Walk project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS) as part of the Museum Association of New York (MANY) Building Capacity Project. For two years, the University Museums at Colgate (Longyear Museum of Anthropology & Picker Art Gallery) and Colgate University Teacher Preparation Program worked to expand the way we tell stories and educate.

Programs like this present an opportunity to incorporate diverse educational resources that will serve to benefit children of all ages.

The Oneida Indian Nation and Colgate University look forward to offering the Story Walk throughout Madison and Oneida counties to those that are interested.

FOR MEDIA USE: To download photos for this story, click HERE.

Media Contacts:
Oneida Indian Nation
Joel Barkin, VP of Communications

Utica Zoo
Andria Heath, Executive Director


About the Oneida Indian Nation

The Oneida Indian Nation is a federally recognized Indian nation in Central New York. A founding member of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (also known as the Six Nations or Iroquois Confederacy), the Oneida Indian Nation sided with the Americans in the Revolutionary War and was thanked by Congress and President George Washington for its loyalty and assistance. Today, the Oneida Indian Nation consists of about 1,000 enrolled Members, most of them living in Central New York. The Nation’s enterprises, which employ more than 4,750 people, include Turning Stone Resort Casino, YBR Casino & Sports Book, Point Place Casino, The Lake House at Sylvan Beach, Maple Leaf Markets, SāvOn Convenience stores, RV Park and three marinas. Proceeds from these enterprises are used to rebuild the Nation’s economic base and provide essential services, including housing, health care, and education incentives and programs, to its Members.

About the Utica Zoo

The Utica Zoo has served the Mohawk Valley region for over 100 years. Located in Roscoe-Conkling Park, the zoo is part of a recreational complex made possible by the donation of land from Thomas R. Proctor in 1909. The Zoo has grown from its small beginnings with three fallow deer in 1914, to its present collection of over 99 species of animals. Of the 80 acres of land set aside for the zoo’s use, 35 are presently developed. The Zoo property is owned by the City of Utica, and until 1964, was operated by the Parks Department. In order to ensure the Utica Zoo’s continued existence, the Utica Zoological Society assumed full management of the zoo in 1964. To stay connected, follow Utica Zoo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.