The Oneida Indian Nation has debuted an art installation that raises awareness while sharing messages of peace and hope with the local community. Comprising nine illuminated tipis, the installation is called the Passage of Peace and is located on Nation lands just before exit 33 on the New York State Thruway in the Central New York region.
The tipis are lit in vibrant jewel tones and intended as a show of solidarity with the Western American Indian Nations that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19. During the pandemic, coronavirus case rates have been higher among American Indians and Alaskan Natives in 23 states, and four times higher in New Mexico, Montana, Mississippi, Oregon, and Arizona. This means that one in every 475 Native Americans has died from COVID-19, compared to one in every 825 white Americans.
The Oneida Indian Nation chose the tipi as a symbol of recognition and to represent challenges that Native American people face. Although the Oneidas and other Iroquois tribes lived in longhouses and not tipis, the tipi is a universally recognized symbol of Native American identity.
“We hope the Passage of Peace will bring attention to continued hardship taking place in many parts of Indian Country, while delivering a message of peace and remembrance with our neighboring communities here in Upstate New York,” said Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative.
The installation will be on view during the holiday season, offering a reminder of how important it is to come together with our family, friends, and neighbors during this time. If you’re driving on I-90 near exit 33 (Verona – Rome – Oneida – NY Route 365), be sure to look for Passage of Peace.