What it is Like to be an Oneida Indian Girl

By Jolene Schenendoah Paterson, 8

Presented to the United Nations on May 2, 2003

     [Note: Beginning in 2001,  many Oneida families were forced from their homes and Oneida territory by tribal leaders.  In October, 2002, Danielle Schenendoah Patterson was one of those removed. After refusing to leave, she was arrested, her home demolished, and her children were taken. In May, 2003, Danielle's mother asked the United Nations  for asylum from the U.S. and her sovereign Oneida Indian Territory. Below is the story according to Jolene Dawn, Danielle's 8 year old daughter, who wrote and presented this to the United Nations in June 2003. 
     This article does not necessarily represent the viewpoint of Native Village, staff, or readers.]

Do you think its easy being an Indian girl? Well, it's not easy, but I'll tell you. I am a member of the wolf clan, Onyota^a:ka Oneida of the Six Nations Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy. I am in 2nd grade and I was born on September 7, 1994. I have a sister Clairese, she was born in December 1992, and I have a brother Preston, he was born in November 1990, we are all full-blooded Oneidas. I love my sister and my brother very much even though sometimes they are mean to me. We grew up our entire lives on the 32-acres of the Oneida Indian Territory and all of the people who live there are Indian as well. My home was located across the road from our longhouse. A longhouse is a place of prayers to the creator and celebration of all creation. I don't have an Indian name yet because the longhouse is locked. There are no ceremonies allowed because of a  [an Oneida leader who]  is my very own cousin. He is the one who is doing a lot of bad things to my family and other Iroquois families. He sent his non-real police force to beat up my mom and use a metal bar to break open the door at my home. I seen the whole thing and his non-real police even hurt my 70 year old gram and they had no right to touch her because she is the Oneida wolf clan mother. He also has been kicking us out of our homes, and leaving us homeless, and with no place to go. He already kicked my mom, my brother and also my sister and me out of our home. After he kicked us out of our home we were split up. I went with my mom and my brother and sister went with my dad. It's not for a long time, only until my mom can get a house, I hope it's soon.

I now live in the city of Oneida and it's for rent only. I am scared when I walk down the street because its no one I know. I don't know if its safe or not to go outside and play with my friend across the street. When I do walk down the street with my mom people call out mean names at me. It's a really hard life for me and sometimes we can't pay our rent and our rent to storage. Sometimes I don't even get to spend time with my mother because she is so busy to help us get a new house to live in. It's a hard life because my mom cannot get a job around the city of Oneida since everyone has read about her in the newspapers for fighting for all the families on the Oneida Indian territory. When my mom works sometimes I get to go with her and I help her with her things she brings when she goes and works places. Her friends and I who help her work and do lots of writing and lots of research and we help one another spread the truth. I do lots of writing too like stories and other stuff I like.

I want to tell you that when I lived on the 32 acres I always knew I was safe and I knew that I always would have my friends and cousins to play with. I miss my cousins and aunts and also the park that I would play on everyday and I miss walking in the woods where its nice and peaceful and quiet and where I would study plants and flowers and food that grows in the ground. I wish I could get my dog back and I wish that I could live on the Oneida Territory again and I wish I could have a great life like we once had. I also wish me and my mom will have help from people to help us make a new house of our own with my brother and sister and I wish we could just get back together. Please help me and my mom get a home, and other Iroquois families who will have no home soon like what happened to my family. If you can help us it would be nice of you and if you can help us raise money for a fund for our new home it would be nice of you to help us with that. 

I am very glad I was here today at the UN with people from all over the world and I am glad I got to speak about my life. I am glad for being a Oneida Indian of the wolf clan.... I would like to say thank you to all the people who want to help Iroquois people because this land is where I come from! Thank you for listening and for your time! A hundred of thanks from Jolene Dawn Schenendoah Patterson and her mother and brother and sister! To all kids, listen to your mother and father and be good and your parents just might do something nice for you and other people. I am telling you this because your parents love you and my mother does it for me all the time because I try to have a good heart and a good mind. If you live with your dad or mom you are lucky because I only live with my mom since my dad is now with another family. Have a very nice day and please don't throw trash on the g! round an d if you do you are just killing the earth and you are just losing days of your life. And if you don't pay attention to Mother Earth you are just making my work I did on trying to keeping the earth alive harder. If you don't throw trash on the ground you will be caring for the earth and the new kids to be born yet. Ny^wah, Thank you!

  Jolene Dawn Schenendoah Paterson

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