Nearly 110 years ago a time capsule was buried at the cornerstone of the Madison County Courthouse in Wampsville. In April, county officials unearthed the capsule and revealed its contents, which included newspapers, photographs, coins and more.

After the unearthing, officials decided to bury a new capsule and invited the Oneida Indian Nation, among others, to participate. The Nation contributed a traditional Friendship Feather and letter from Nation Representative Ray Halbritter to the new time capsule that was buried June 4 at the courthouse in the exact same location as the original.

In the letter Halbritter wrote about the significance of the feather being given as a symbol of admiration and peace. He also wrote about the relationship between the county and the Oneida Indian Nation, and how differences were set aside under the 2013 settlement agreement that now provides a partnership for ongoing investments in the region.

“When the next generations look back at their ancestors, they will be able to see a concrete example of two peoples that were driven apart by animosities, but that decided once and for all to embrace reconciliation and respect,” the letter states.

The capsule also includes voice recordings of messages from residents of the county on DVD, local newspapers, newsletters, pins, photos, coins and other items collected from local businesses and members of the community.

Dale Rood, Oneida Indian Nation Turtle Clan Council Member, attended the burring of the new time capsule.

“This was an excellent opportunity to do something cooperative between the Nation and Madison County,” he said. “The county was truly appreciative of our contribution.”

The contents were on display at the courthouse a week prior to being buried. Dale hopes that over the next period of 100 years the items remain intact and will be a positive message to the future generations.

Watch a video clip of Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Becker read the letter from the Oneida Indian Nation here.

Below is the full text of the letter:


There is a famous Native American proverb that reminds us that, “in any great undertaking, it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself. In Native American culture, the feather symbolizes admiration and is given in peace and friendship.” With that in mind, we are delivering this feather and this letter to Madison County for inclusion in its new time capsule.

Time capsules are designed to send messages into the future, so that lessons and wisdom can be passed on through the generations. When this community’s descendants open this time capsule, we want them to understand how our people and Madison County overcame strife to forge a lasting friendship and partnership that supports this region. The Oneida people believe that every decision we make must take into account the effect unto the Seventh Generation That concept is shorthand for our belief that everything we do today must serve not only this generation, but seven generations into the future.

For decades, the conflict between our communities festered, ultimately leading to counterproductive battles over everything from land to public revenues. These were deep-rooted disputes over the most fundamental questions of sovereignty. That made the conflicts particularly challenging to navigate, because they involved not only legal questions, but emotional and spiritual ones about the most basic beliefs about how our communities could coexist.

And yet, through hard work and negotiations, we came together to craft a settlement in 2013 that did not merely include a pledge to coexist — it enshrined a commitment to a full partnership. Today on the five-year anniversary of the agreement, this settlement has resulted in the end of the major disputes that drove a wedge between us, and our partnership now provides ongoing investments in the region.

When the next generations look back at their ancestors, they will be able to see a concrete example of two peoples that were driven apart by animosities, but that decided once and for all to embrace reconciliation and respect.

Central New York is a sacred place — it is our eternal homeland, and our future is intertwined with Madison County’s future. We are marching forward together — carrying forward the legacy of friendship and cross-cultural collaboration that was first made famous when two centuries ago our people stood in solidarity with General George Washington and those who were fighting for independence.

We hope this time capsule is a reminder of all the work that our communities have done — and why it is so crucial that this kind of work continues in perpetuity.

N∧ ki’ wa,

Ray Halbritter

Nation Representative