Preservation & Promotion of Traditional Haudenosaunee ways through Language & Artesan Workshops
To establish a historical and current Library Resource Centre whereby educators from all over the world can come to research and learn first hand about the history and development of the Iroquoian people.
To carry on educational programs in order to promote the knowledge of Iroquoian culture and language through research, education and publication and distribution of books, papers, reports, periodicals and pamphlets, and to provide funds to charitable organizations which carry on such educational programs.
To design, develop and maintain a Language Development Program whereby all aspects of the Iroquoian Language can be preserved and taught to all age groups.
Current Project: What does the Jake Thomas archival project consist of?
We are in the process of digitizing the Jake Thomas Collection. The Collection consists of over 90,000 hand written documents in languages such as Onondaga, Cayuga, and Mohawk. The documents include Great Law recitals, condolence ceremonies, Code of Handsome Lake, Thanksgiving Address, and many other important speeches and ceremonies.
So far our team has scanned and edited approximately 2,500 documents of the 90,000 document Collection. Other accomplishments we have achieved are; restocking our inventory with 50 packages of Mohawk for Beginners, 50 packages of the Great Feather Dance, 50 packages of Mohawk Verb Roots. All are available at the Jake Thomas Learning Centre. The package includes a CD and a book to read along with. We also have 3 copies of the 1994 Great Law Recital which is a 12 DVD collection that has the whole 7 day recital in sound as well as picture. This was the last Great Law Recital by the late Jake Thomas.
Where we are heading?
Our main goal of this project is to digitize the Jake Thomas Collection. We would like to make all of the material from the Jake Thomas Collection accessible on the internet. This is a very big project which is going to take awhile to finish but after it is done it will not only benefit the Jake Thomas Learning Centre but also our whole community. The Jake Thomas Collection is one of the largest archive of native traditions in the world.
We would like to thank our many volunteers especially young individuals who need to perform community service to not only help out with our current projects but also to help out with any work whether it be outside or inside the office. All of our volunteers work hard and are willing to do whatever is asked of them. Yvonne makes the Jake Thomas Learning Centre a great place for young individuals to develop good work habits and on the job experience.
Note: The Jake Thomas Learning Centre is a non profit charity with Revenue Canada.
The late Jacob "Jake" Thomas was a leading proponent and interpreter of Iroquoian culture: craftsman, condoled Cayuga Chief, longhouse speaker or official "faithkeeper", singer, preacher of the Code of Handsome Lake, master of the Condolence Ceremony, authority on the Great Law of Peace.
Cayuga Chief, Orator, Language Advocate and Artist. Jake was a Hereditary Cayuga Chief, and a member of the Sandpiper Clan. As a speaker and advocate of the five original (Onondaga, Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca) Hodenosaunee Hodin/hs/:ni 608* languages, Jake became a proponent and interpreter of Iroquoian culture through his roles as interpreter, teacher, and orator throughout the Six Nations communities.
He was a well respected cultural leader, craftsman, singer, dancer, orator, and medicine man ritualist-ceremonialist who founded two institutions mandated for the maintenance of cultural integrity among the Iroquois, worked as a Museum Curator, and an Assistant Professor with the Department of Native Studies at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario.
Jake handmade many different types of arts objects to support and preserve the oral tradition of passing on the longhouse speeches he learned to recite during his life time, including explanations of international agreements between the Hodenosaunee 608*, neighbouring nations and colonizing nations in North America.
Facing a critical era in language and cultural attrition among the Iroquois, Jake dedicated a lifetime to instilling the importance of Hodenosaunee 608* world view - one person’s commitment to local culture as well as public awareness of Native contributions to society at large – particularly a message of environmental consciousness through Ganohonyonk Ganóh/ny/hk 631* (Thanksgiving Address), moral and prophetic message through Gaiwhiio Gaihwi:yo: 631* (the Code of Handsome Lake) and through Gaianarhi kowa Gayan+hsra`gó:wah 642* (the Great Law of Peace) among others.
*English-Cayuga Cayuga-English Dictionary, 2002
The Jake Thomas Room, located in room 345 in the Enweying Building/Gzowski College is named in honour of Chief Jake Thomas. Chief Thomas was a condoled Cayuga chief who taught Iroquoian culture, tradition and history and the Mohawk language at Trent during the 1980’s. He was one of the first Indigenous Elders to be granted tenure on the basis of traditional knowledge. The room contains an exhibition of wampum belts that he made to teach about Iroquois political theory.
Each year at Trent University’s convocation ceremony, while members of the Trent community and their families look on, the Condolence Cane makes its annual appearance at the head of the faculty procession. A gift to the University from the Trent Aboriginal Education Council, this replica Cane was carved by the late Chief Jake Thomas of the Cayuga Nation, who was also a Trent Professor. It is a symbolic representation of the governance structure of the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse).
Yvonne Thomas,co-founder, of the Jake Thomas Learning Centre, Six Nations of the Grand River, Canada
Yvonne was the closest collaborator to and supporter of her late husband, celebrated Cayuga Hereditary Chief and culture-bearing Elder, Jacob (Jake) Thomas. Yvonne worked along side Chief Thomas for over 25 years as he fostered and enriched traditional Haudenoshaunee (Iroquoian) culture.
As co-founder and principal administrator for Jake Thomas Learning Centre (JTLC), Yvonne collaborated on the creation and implementation of the JTLC’s core projects and programs, which included on and off site language classes, traditional lifestyle-knowledge workshops and a publication roster featuring hundreds of titles. Often working behind the scenes, Yvonne helped record, transcribe, preserve and catalogue much of the JTLC’s irreplaceable cultural collection. A gifted culture-bearer in her on right, Yvonne has given lectures and demonstrations of institutions like the Iroquois Indian Museum (New York), the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago), and the McMichael Canadian Collection (Kleinburg).
Yvonne continues to provide leadership and creative direction as she carries on the JTLC’s mission to preserve and promote traditional Haudenoshaunee ways. She is the Centre’s greatest asset, working tirelessly as executive director, principal administrator, fundraiser and organizer-facilitator of the Centre’s core projects and programs.
Amid these immeasurably valuable outreach activities, Yvonne also accepts public speaking engagements and maintains and operates a large mobile display in order to bring the JTLC’s work to Native culture conferences, pow-wows and other special events.
Yvonne’s many other skills and abilities include: Accredited native language teacher with 15 years experience. She has taught for organizations like Mohawk College, Trent University, the Iroquoian Institute and Indian, Northern Affairs Canada, and the Jake Thomas Learning Centre.
Able to read, write and speak Mohawk fluently, functionally literate in Cayuga, Onondaga and Oneida. Traditional counselor and healer for over 15 years, able to conduct healing circles, sweats and other culture specific counseling activities.
Qualified cultural consultant with an excellent understanding of Haudenoshaunee traditional teachings and ceremonies. Provided professional services to cultural and educational institutions like the Six Nations Woodland Cultural Centre, the North American Indian Traveling College, and the Brantford Education District.
Extensive hands-on experience with special events organization and co-ordination. Experienced public speaker
* Published 2013 Reprint of Teachings from the Longhouse
* Elder and guest speaker for Dodem Kanonhsa-INAC Toronto and Kumik Lodge, Hull QC
* Community Counsel Member for Three Fires Justice Program
* Artesan, Exhibitor and Presenter of Traditional Iroquois Art/Culture
* Lecture/demonstrate at Iroquois Indian Museum (NY), Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago), McMichael Canadian Collection (Kleinburg ON), Museum of the American Indian, NYC
* Native Language Diploma Certificate with University of Western Ontario
* Created and implemented core programs for the Jake Thomas Learning Centre, an independent experiential centre on Onkwehonwe peoples
* Caretaker of the Jake Thomas archival digital collection; Cayuga, English, Mohawk and Onondaga languages.
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