The plan to create the continent’s first Indigenous Knowledge center began 10 years ago when a group of Iroquois leaders, inspired by the late Cayuga Nation chief Jake Thomas, met at Colgate University and pledged to do what they could to insure the ancestral wisdom of this land’s first peoples would survive. Among those at the first conference was the late Mohawk Nation chief Jake Swamp, the founder of the Tree of Peace Society.
On February 19, 2011 a board of nine directors was selected among the 30 delegates to oversee the formation of the Institute. SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor welcomed the delegates to the school’s Center of Excellence, saying she was committed to working in partnership with the Institute to achieve its goals. Also greeting the group were SU Vice-Chancellor Eric Spina and New York Senator David Valesky, both of whom expressed their strong support for the Institute.
Six committees were formed to develop a unique curriculum based upon the traditional teachings of Haudenosaune (Iroquois) and other native nations. Delegates came from throughout the country to attend the 3 day session hosted by Ed Bogucz, Director, of COE and Bea Gonzalez, Dean of University College at Syracuse University.