Dave Ruch, a performer and teaching artist, was a recent visitor to Lanigan Elementary School where he shared the history of the Native American tribes in Central New York with fourth graders at the school.
New York State curriculum for fourth grade studies the Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, Onondaga and Cauyga tribes, also known as the Iroquois League, that inhabited the Central New York Region.
Ruch shared through demonstrations and song a timeline of Iroquois life in the state.
The students, quite knowledgeable about the early life in the area, were eager to learn the songs, and to use the instruments that Ruch brought with him for his performance.
Ruch’s interactive demonstration focused on the Haudenosaunee, or people of the long house, and featured information about the Native American culture.
He sang and performed songs of harvest like the corn dance and the three sisters, a song about corn, beans and squash and their interdependence.
Ruch also used traditional Iroquois instruments like Iroquois rattlers made from gourds and the water drum, and gave students an opportunity to use these instruments during the presentation.
Ruch also talked to the students about the changes that happened to the Native Americans when the Europeans came and took over the lands that were inhabited by the Iroquois.
He talked about how the Iroquois people were forced to live on sections of land called reservations and how they were not able to live in the manner that they had for generations.
Ruch’s presentation was made available to the Lanigan Elementary School students through the New York Council for the Humanities.