Word That Come Before All Else

HETF's most popular publication "Words That Come Before All Else" is back by popular demand! Due to overwhelming demand, the publication is back in circulation. Order your copy TODAY!

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In 1992, the Haudenosaunee sent a delegation to the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to spread the words of the Thanksgiving Address, the philosophy of our people.  This delegation reminded the entire world we have a responsibility to act as caretakers of the natural world.

Following the Earth Summit, the Haudenosaunee held a Grand Council to discuss the environmental degradation of our communities.  In accordance with the  Kaianerekowa (Great Law of Peace  ) the Grand Council agreed and passed, based on Haudenosaunee protocols and cultural beliefs, to establish the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force (HETF).

The Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force is composed of delegates (Haudenosaunee leaders, environmental technicians, and scientists) chosen by each of the Haudenosaunee Nations. These individuals are committed to identifying environmental problems in their communities and working to find solutions to them.

Over the next two years, the HETF worked collectively to put together a document called Haudenosaunee Environmental Restoration: An Indigenous Strategy for Human Sustainability (HERS).  In 1995, the HETF presented the Haudenosaunee Restoration Plan to the United Nations at the Summit of the Elders.  It was among the first comprehensive responses by an Indigenous Group to Agenda 21, Chapter 26.

Since the Summit of the Elders, the HETF has been working to implement the strategies outlined in the Haudenosaunee Restoration Plan. Much of the work for the past three years has focused on setting up an infrastructure for the organization.

In 1999, the HETF published the book Words That Come Before All Else: Environmental Philosophies of the Haudenosaunee. This 160-page book draws from the Thanksgiving Address and Haudenosaunee Creation Story to present a traditional outlook on our relationship with the natural world.

The HETF presently administers a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to assist the Cayuga, Tuscarora, and Tonawanda Seneca Nations as they develop environmental programs.

Native Earth Environmental Youth Camp 2015

. Posted in Environmental Youth Camp


August 15-22 2015

Join us for a summer camp experience for indigenous youth focused on land skills and environmental stewardship, using both traditional ecological knowledge and environmental science.

Now in its fifth year, the Native Earth Environmental Youth Camp brings together Native American high school students from an array of indigenous nations of the northeast to explore the intersection between traditional ecological knowledge and environmental science. The program brings together indigenous environmental stewardship philosophy and the tools of western science, taught by Native elders, teachers and environmental professionals through wilderness field experience, traditional instruction, cultural and scientific activities. The SUNY-ESF Cranberry Lake Biological Station in the Adirondacks and the Thompson Island Youth and Elders Camp at Akwesasne provide the facilities for a ten-day experience of learning, teaching and sharing.

Native Earth is the product of an ongoing collaboration between the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment and the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, with funding from the National Science Foundation and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.

The program includes a wide range of educational activities from traditional cultural teachings by respected elders and teachers to hands-on aquatic ecology with SUNY-ESF scientists. Students are immersed in experiential learning of science and culture. Examples of program activities include study of the ecology of culturally significant plants, coupled with a workshop on traditional basket making, learning about wetland ecology while practicing traditional arts of cattail cordage. Students gain experience with scientific tools such as ecological inventory, saquatic sampling and soil analysis. Career exploration and college preparation are emphasized in seminar presentations, through interviews with tribal environmental professionals and a visit to the SUNY-ESF campus. The camp is organized around the integrative theme of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, which is a cultural touchstone and also a model for identification and valuation of ecosystem services.

The camp is open to Native American youth in grades 9-11 throughout the Northeast and Great Lakes regions.

Application and Information


Neil Patterson Jr.
315 470 6870
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Peoples Climate March in NYC, September 21, 2014

Written by David Arquette. Posted in News

New York City - Two busloads of Haudenosaunee left Onondaga early Sunday morning to participate in the Peoples Climate March in New York City. When we got there, we were greeted by other Haudenosaunee that came from other Haudenosaunee communities. The Indigenous Peoples from all across the Nation were to lead the peaceful march against climate change marching through the streets of lower Manhattan, marching on wall street to the doors of the U.N. where leaders from the Nations all over the world will convene to discuss what to do about Global climate change.

There were people from all walks of life. There was close to 400,000 people that participated in the march. This was the biggest protest on climate change ever to go along with the summer of 2014 being the hottest summer on record. At the same time, there were over 2000 protest marches against global climate change in over 200 countries. The message was clear, we spoke as one people with one voice and we want all the world leaders to know; “It is too late for talking, we need action now, the future generations depend on it”. Another message heard loud and clear from the people; “We need to end our use of fossil fuels now, and switch to alternative energies”.

There was a youth contingent lined up after the Indigenous peoples because it is their future at stake here if we do nothing about global climate change. Followed by them were people impacted by global climate change, Islands in the pacific under water, victims of natural disaster storms like Katrina, then followed by elders, labor groups, environmental organizations, and so on.

The Haudenosaunee have a message from the creator that was passed to them from the four messengers and passed on to generation to generation. We are to take care of our environment we live in and make sure the natural resources he put her on mother earth to sustain life were to continue for the future generations. These were the first instructions he gave to the Onkwehonwe (Native People). If we don’t follow these instructions, there will be big changes on mother earth that no one will be able to control like strong winds, floods, droughts and wild fires. Our creator warned us this will happen and we are seeing this happen today.


Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force
P.O. Box 992
Hogansburg, NY 13655
Phone: (518) 333-0228 | Fax: (315) 842-4515