Cultural Story Walk Developed by Oneida Indian Nation and Colgate University Moves to Utica Zoo

The Utica Zoo recently installed the new Story Walk display developed by the Oneida Indian Nation and Colgate University in its children’s zoo section near the main entrance. Featuring the Oneida language-learning children’s book, The Tale of Two Teams, the Story Walk is a cooperative effort to bring Haudenosaunee culture to life for younger generations.

The Oneida Indian Nation partnered with Colgate University’s Longyear Museum of Anthropology and the Picker Art Gallery to produce large outdoor reading stations, known as a Story Walk, which is intended to promote reading and physical activity in young children. Each page from the book is made into a temporary sign that serves as a ‘stop and read’ station to encourage children to finish the story and learn two Oneida words: Ohkwa:lí̲ (pronounced “oh gwal”; “Bear”) and Skʌhnáksʌʼ̲ (pronounced “skuh noks”; “Fox”).

This Haudenosaunee inspired tale details how the animals of this part of the world competed in a game of lacrosse, and how that game led to the creation of a few new animals as well as a valuable lesson for a few other animals!

The Story Walk will be on display through the end of August with the take beginning at the Utica Zoo Visitor Center and ending near their new North American River Otter habitat. Families will be able to engage with the story and learn more about the Utica Zoo’s conservation efforts.

“Bringing our stories to younger generations and introducing the Oneida language to the community in an interactive way has been a wonderful experience,” said language instructor, Chelsea Jocko (Wolf Clan), on behalf of the Oneida Indian Nation’s Language Program. “Schools and libraries in the area have shared in our excitement in producing these books and we are happy to have the Utica Zoo assist in our outreach.”

“As a longstanding member of MANY, the Utica Zoo couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Oneida Indian Nation, Madison-Oneida BOCES and Colgate University,” said Andria Heath, Executive Director for the Utica Zoo. “The ability to live through words and expand one’s life through reading is so valuable and hosting this project to learn about the Oneida culture and heritage is a privilege.”

The Tale of Two Teams is made available through cooperative efforts with the Oneida Indian Nation Language Program and the Madison-Oneida BOCES Staff and Curriculum Development department. Through this partnership, the Oneida Indian Nation has been able to produce learning materials that preserve Oneida culture and heritage.

This Story Walk project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS) as part of the Museum Association of New York (MANY) Building Capacity Project. For two years, the University Museums at Colgate (Longyear Museum of Anthropology & Picker Art Gallery) and Colgate University Teacher Preparation Program worked to expand the way we tell stories and educate. Programs like this present an opportunity to incorporate diverse educational resources that will serve to benefit children of all ages.

Share this post

The Utica Zoo will be closed at 1:00pm on 8/3 for BREWFEST and will reopen with normal hours on 8/4!