The Oneida Room at the Turning Stone Resort Casino hosted the annual Elders Dinner on Sunday afternoon, April 8. The event honors Elders and their families, and provides an opportunity for Nation leadership to discuss the exciting progress of the Oneida Indian Nation’s government programs and services as well as its commercial enterprises over the past year.

Bear Clan Council Member Brian Patterson welcomed everyone and introduced Mary Blau (Turtle Clan), an Oneida Indian Nation language instructor, to recite the Thanksgiving Address in the Oneida language.

Over the last year the Nation reclaimed more of its sacred homelands, completed the construction of a new Courthouse, established a more spacious and convenient location for its language program, and preserved Oneida culture through partnerships with the Museum of the American Revolution and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.

The Nation also invested heavily in the health and well-being of its Elders with the introduction of a new Nation health care card designed to make accessing health services as quick and easy as possible. Elders’ health care remains a top priority.

To that end, the buffet for the Elders Dinner featured many healthy options. Several attendees raved about the Waldorf salad, which was made up of different fruits and nuts such as apple slices, grapes and walnuts with lettuce and a yogurt dressing. For sides, there were whipped potatoes, quinoa pilaf and, of course, traditional corn soup. The main courses featured a perfectly cooked London broil with mushrooms; herb roasted chicken and roasted turkey with Three Sisters succotash.

Melissa McCann (Turtle Clan) enjoyed attending the dinner with several family members.

“It’s great being with family,” she said after posing for a photo with a few of her cousins. “And the food is always delicious. The London broil was excellent.”

Desserts were also in high demand. There were Cannoli pops, a peach blackberry upside down cake and a sugar-free espresso mousse. Entertainment for the dinner was provided by the Aaron Velardi Duo, a pianist and bassist playing jazz and pop standards.

Events that acknowledge and celebrate the Nation’s Elders are an important part of Oneida culture. The accomplishments made over the years are the result of their perseverance and dedication to improve the lives of future generations.