July 12, 1932 - December 2, 2009
Wolf Clan Mother - Oneida Nation
Surrounded by her loved ones, Mary “Maisie” Shenandoah, Yakolihuny?ni, “She Teaches,” has passed into the spirit world. Born July 12, 1932 on the Onondaga Nation Territory south of Syracuse, NY. Daughter of the late Mary Cornelius Winder and Samuel Winder, Maisie was a Wolf Clan Mother of the Oneida Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois) Confederacy in New York State. As a clan mother she had the duty of selecting leaders from within her clan, serving as a political adviser, spiritual leader and spokesperson for the Oneida people.
She was primarily an educator and matriarch of the Oneida people, she was also a performing artist, tribal historian, an avid collector of Native American art and an astute businesswoman. Maisie operated a trading post, participated in American Indian gatherings throughout the country and organized hundreds of cultural and education presentations in the northeast. Throughout her travels she encouraged Native American people to look with pride upon their heritage and to assert their rights as indigenous nations with kindness and friendship. After her marriage to Onondaga Chief Clifford Shenandoah they moved their family back to the ancestral territory of the Oneidas in 1961 and re-established a dynamic Oneida presence in the region. Her life’s dream, as passed on to her by her mother, was to create a homeland for all Oneidas.
She was selected as Clan Mother in 1977 and fulfilled her duties for the next thirty years. Known as the “Matriarch of the Oneida people,” she passed on her passion for Oneida culture to her children, family members and countless numbers of Oneidas and travelers to the Oneida territory who found comfort in her home. No one ever left her house without enjoying a warm meal, her unique humor, generosity and hospitality. She was profiled in many publications including the books “Wisdomkeepers” and “Wisdom’s Daughters.” Maisie played a vital role in the Oneida land claims begun by her mother Mary Winder & Aunt Delia Waterman eighty years ago. She was a staunch defender of the treaty rights of not only the Oneidas but all Haudenosaunee and other Native peoples for which she was honored by the National Organization of Women.
Maisie Shenandoah is survived by her children Gerald Schenandoah (Cheryl), Wanda Wood Lyons (Laverne) , Joanne Shenandoah (Doug George Kanentiio), Diane Schenandoah, Vicki Schenandoah (Matt Jones), and Danielle Schenandoah; her twin sister, Elizabeth Robert (Raymond), sisters Gloria Halbritter and Ramona Beglen; 20 grandchildren, 17 great-grand children and hundreds of other relatives.
“Throughout the years I have experienced many difficult times, but the Creator has always given me the strength to continue on. I have witnessed moments that have caused great stress to our Oneida people. I have spent countless hours in defense of our sovereignty, land and traditional ways. One day we will again stand before the world as a people who have overcome great the odds and survived as a nation.”, Maisie Shenandoah “Wisdom’s Daughters” HarperCollins Publishers (1993)
Friends and family can pay their respects on December 2-4 at the home of Wanda & Laverne Lyons, 521 Main Street, Oneida, NY 13421. Her services will be held at the Oneida Nation Longhouse on the 32 Acre Territory Route 46, Oneida, NY at 11:00 am on December 5, 2009, after which she will be buried in the Shenandoah/Robert family cemetery overlooking Oneida Territory on Forrest Avenue, Oneida, NY.
It is with great sadness that we say N^:ki’wa to the Passing of our dear friend and brother Joseph Hernandez.
Joe and his wife Jean moved here from New Jersey, to support our small community when our homes were in peril. Jean passed two years ago and has been greatly missed by all, none more greatly than Joe himself. He is now with her and I am sure rejoicing in their love.
We are all so very blessed to know and love both these beautiful beings that had graced us with their presences here on the Territory. Their love and memories will be forever with us until we meet again.
Services will be held at their home this Saturday Feb. 7 at 1:00 in Rome NY, Please say prayers for
the family, y^: wa’
Oneida Territory community
(for more info please email me)
As some of you may have noticed, it’s been quite some time since any new updates were posted on Oneidas For Democracy - leading some of you to wonder if the Oneida’s have fallen into the patchwork, or given up altogether. I can assure you, that neither is the case.
On the Oneida Yahoo group, Diane Schenandoah mentioned a few months back that the Oneida are taking a much needed respite, renewing themselves after years of difficult challenges with Ray Halbritter, and, more importantly, tending to the needs of family.
That said, there will come a time when the Oneida People, who stand with Tradition as part of Haudenosaunee Confederacy, become active once again.