Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Hobart Traditions: Acknowledging our Past, Envisioning our Future
The HWS Update
Hobart students and alums process past Medbery Hall to commence the Charter Day ceremony. One of the year's honored celebrations, Charter Day is held each spring to commemorate the granting of Hobart's charter by the State of New York on April 10, 1822.

Hobart Traditions: Acknowledging our Past, Envisioning our Future

On Tuesday, March 26, the Hobart Deans Office and the Hobart Deans Council will host a panel to discuss the history and future of Hobart traditions and HWS in relation to First Nation communities.

“Hobart Traditions: Acknowledging the Past, Envisioning the Future” will begin at 4 p.m. in the Seneca Room.

The Hobart Deans Council, which is composed of HWS undergraduate students, has been working throughout this academic year to build community and engage Hobart traditions. One particular tradition that sparked both inquiry and discussion has been the history of the oar used in the College’s matriculation ceremony. While the oar has gone by various names over the years, it has most recently been associated with narratives connected to first nation communities, particularly the Seneca Nation. As students explored some of those narratives, they found various iterations generated by Hobart students throughout the early 20th century, but no real historical evidence of an actual tie to the Seneca.

Hobart Dean Khuram Hussain says this discovery “made us consider what might still be of value to those traditions and whether they could be part of an evolving of traditions. Specifically, if this is an effort to connect Hobart College to the people and the land then let’s explore the oar tradition within that wider context and let’s bring together alumni and current students along with a rich panel of speakers to explore that history.”

Matthew Fox ’19, a member of the Deans Council, says that in exploring the history of the College, “we want to have a conversation and hear from all kinds of different people about what the oar means to them and get a deeper understanding of the traditions. Especially with the bicentennial coming up, we thought it could be interesting and useful to get a deeper understanding of the traditions we have and why they exist and how they play into the future of the Colleges.”

The panel will include:

For the past 27 years, HWS Professor of Anthropology Jeff Anderson has conducted fieldwork, archival studies and applied research on the language, culture and history of the Northern Arapaho Nation of Wyoming. He is author of The Four Hills of Life: Northern Arapaho Knowledge and Life Movement, One Hundred Years of Old Man Sage and Arapaho Women’s Quillwork: Motion, Life, and Creativity, along with essays on language, ethnohistory, space-time, knowledge systems, ethnopoetics and art.

Peter Jemison is a member of the Heron Clan of the Seneca Nation of Indians and the Historic Site Manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site located in Victor, N.Y. The site includes a fully reconstructed Bark Longhouse and the Seneca Art & Culture Center that opened in 2015. Jemison is an award-winning artist known for his paintings, drawings, and films.

Nicole Scott, who is Diné (Navajo), grew up on the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. She is of The Red Running Into Water Clan (Táchii’nii), born for the Big Water Clan (Tótsohnii). Scott is director for the Native American Future Stewards Program at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where she oversees the recruitment of Native American students, the implementation and effectiveness of the program, as well as provides academic and social support to Future Stewards Program students. Scott is also an adviser to two of the Native American student organizations at RIT.

HWS Trustee the Rt. Rev. Dr. Prince Singh has served as the Eighth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, N.Y. since 2008. Singh was ordained a priest in the Church of South India and served congregations from South India to New Jersey before his election to the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. On the HWS Board of Trustees, he serves as a key leader in supporting and guiding the Episcopal tradition of Hobart College.

Patrick J. Solomon ’92, P’20, P’23 is a founding partner of Thomas & Solomon LLP and an executive committee member of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law section. He is an Associate and Appellate Justice of the St. Regis Mohawk tribal court. In 1990 and 1998, he played goalie on the Iroquois National Lacrosse Team in the World Lacrosse Championships. He also played on the 12-time National Championship Hobart College lacrosse team, earning three National Championships.

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