On Tuesday, Nov. 21, Dr. Thomas Porter visited CCS to help unveil the Hiawatha Peace Flag to secondary students in an assembly in the high school gymnasium.
Dr. Porter (Sakokwenionkwas “The One Who Wins”) has been the founder, spokesperson and spiritual leader of the Mohawk Community of Kanatsiohareke located in the Mohawk Valley near Fonda, New York since 1993. He is a member of the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. Dr. Porter held the position of sub-chief for the Tehanakarine Chieftainship title, one of the nine chief titles of the Mohawk Nation, for 21 years from 1971-1992.
The Hiawatha Peace Flag first was presented as the national belt of the Haudenosaunee. The belt is named after Hiawatha, an Onondaga who was the peacemaker’s helper in spreading the good words of peace. In this belt, it records when five warring nations; the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk, buried their weapons of war to live in peace. Years later, the Hiawatha Belt was fashioned into a flag that has been flown in many places around the world.
The history of the flag dates back several hundred years. Its exact history is unclear, but it is possibly the first flag in the world that represented democracy.
“The biggest thing this represents is peace,” said Duane Honyoust (Guionhtwagay – Beaver Clan “Corn Planter”), an Onondaga and Cambridge community member. “The flag represents the five nations that were fighting. Then, Hiawatha and the peacemaker intervened and said they are family and need peace. I remembered the story and thought of our town. We need peace for our town to come back as one. We need the students to understand and respect what the American and Hiawatha flags stand for.”
The flag was permanently hung in the gymnasium and will serve as a reminder for the students, families and community members the importance of being peaceful and respectful to all individuals.
“The school hanging the flag opens up the door to knowledge that hasn’t been public to most of the world,” said Dr. Porter. “It is possible that what Cambridge school has done is open the door to the world. I salute the staff, parents and students for embracing that idea.”