Submitted by the Historical Association of Lewiston
Sunny skies and mild temperatures greeted community leaders and citizens who met on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Oct. 11, to honor a local student from the Tuscarora Nation.
MacKenzie Smith, a member of the Turtle Clan, was awarded the fourth annual Historical Association of Lewiston scholarship. She is currently enrolled at Medaille College in Buffalo, majoring in English and planning to become a teacher. She is the daughter of Jordan and Kehala Smith.
After being presented her scholarship from Historical Association President Ken Slaugenhoupt, MacKenzie thanked everyone for their support and expressed her gratitude for the scholarship, which will help offset college expenses.
The ceremony took place at Lewiston’s Tuscarora Heroes Monument, which was dedicated in 2013 in thanksgiving to the Tuscaroras for their bravery in saving the lives of Lewiston residents during the War of 1812 British attack. Representing the village were Mayor Anne Welch, and trustees Dan Gibson and Claudia Marasco. Councilman William Geiben represented the town. Newly appointed Tuscarora Council member Brennen Ferguson was also in attendance.
Neil Patterson Sr., a member of the Tuscarora Council, remarked that both the Village and Town of Lewiston were at the forefront in recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day several years ago. Since then, numerous states and cities across the nation have followed suit. Just this past week, President Joe Biden issued the first presidential proclamation commemorating the occasion.
Many of the Tuscarora natives at the ceremony, including Mackenzie, wore bright orange T-shirts that said, “Every Child Matters,” in remembrance of the victims of the Indian residential boarding schools that were designed to denigrate Native American culture and forced children to give up their language and religion.
Patterson also handed out replica wampum beads created by Richard David Hamell to remind everyone of the atrocities and abuses that were committed, while looking forward to a new day when Native American culture can be celebrated with pride and dignity.
Former Village of Lewiston Trustee and Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland with Neil Patterson Sr.