Growing up in Green Bay I was always knew about the Oneida Nation, or the Oneida Tribe of Indians, that bordered our city. As a child I visited the Oneida museum on elementary school field trips and my parents took my brother and I to Oneida pow wows, but it wasn’t until I was an adult working closer to the Oneida Nation that I became aware of how connected Green Bay and Oneida are and how subtle that connection is. I knew this, but I didn’t know this. The Oneida are our neighbors, but like with many neighbors, you see them all the time, but you don’t know them.
More Than a Casino
In August P and I watched Native American dances demonstrated at the annual Art Street event. An Oneida elder explained each of the dances and the costumes while women, men and children danced. It was fascinating and beautiful.
In Green Bay many of us associate the Oneida with the casino and pow wows. If you look just a little deeper you’ll find the Oneida Nation is so much more. The pow wows are beautiful and moving with the sounds of drums, dancing and the beautiful, intricately made dresses and costumes, but that’s just a small part of the Oneida tribe.
A couple of weeks ago my interest in the tribe was piqued again. I was riding along with my mom while she did errands. She stopped at the Oneida Market on Packerland Drive to pick up a couple of pounds of bison. Don’t let its exterior fool you. It may share a building with the gas station, but it’s full of gorgeous locally produced foods and natural remedies.
The first thing I noticed when walking into the market was the wonderful smell. Was it the essential oils? Teas? Herbs? Hard to say, but it smelled great. It felt more like a coffee shop than a store. It offered a comfortable area with armchairs and the women working there were friendly. I browsed the shelves while my mom picked up her bison. Jams, corn, coffee, gift baskets, grass-fed beef, and squash were just a few things they had to offer. A quick look at their Facebook page shows that they’re offering classes as well.
Then, since we were already fairly close (and feeling footloose and fancy free) we headed out to the Oneida Orchard to pick up some Honey Crisp apples. I bought a few miniature white pumpkins and few gourds for decorating and couldn’t resist picking up a bag of pears going for just $.30/pound. It’s a no frills building and that’s what I like about it. What you see is what you get. The focus isn’t commercialism. The focus is commitment to taking care of the land and its resources and supporting the Oneida community.
A Nation to Discover
Until our spontaneous afternoon field trip, I didn’t realize we had such a good resource for organic, humane and locally grown and raised food right in our community. Our afternoon at the Oneida Market and Oneida Orchard made me wonder what else we were missing. I started to poke around the Oneida Tribe’s website and discovered that we had barely scratched the surface. Our field trip list has grown! Still on our Oneida field trip list:
- Take a drive to see the Oneida bison herd at the Buffalo Overlook.
- Try our one or more of the several Natural Areas and Trails.
- Visit the Museum, its interactive longhouse and gift shop. (Read about our recent visit here.)
- Oneida Farmers Market (Next summer).
- Pick apples and pumpkins at the orchard (next fall).
- Visit the Tsyunhehkw^ farm and solar greenhouse.
- Take a Cultural tour.
I’m going to try to get us out and moving on the trails this week. Last week a friend (Thanks, Lynette!) raved about the Oneida field trip she went on with her daughter’s class. She mentioned many of the things on our list of Oneida-related activities we still want to do. Her enthusiasm has me pretty pumped to get out there and discover more about our Oneida neighbors. What have you done and loved in Oneida? What would you add to the list?