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Peace Tree Ceremony

A highlight of the academic year is the annual Peace Tree Ceremony. The university community welcomes Morgantown-area residents and members of the local Native American communities to campus to join in this important tradition. 

2023 Peace Tree held on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023 highlighting the Indigenous People’s Day Events

When: 11:30AM-1:00PM EST

Where: at the Peace Tree, outside Martin Hall, downtown WVU Campus*

Tadodaho Sidney Hill, Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederacy, will preside (*rain location: Gluck Theater, WVU Mountainlair Student Union)

The 2023 ceremony was be held before the Fall Forum "THIS LAND WAS ALREADY LOVED: Native Leaders discuss their Nations’ Connection to Place"

Learn More about the 2023 Fall Forum

About the WVU Peace Tree

A tall evergreen tree stands outside of Martin Hall at WVU. In front of the tree is a plaque that commemorates the tree and its tradition.

By Anna M. Schein, WVU Librarian, author and Native American Studies Committee Member

The WVU Peace Tree was planted on September 12, 1992 to commemorate the University's commitment to the rediscovery of America's Indian heritage. Chief Leon Shenandoah, Tadodaho (Presiding Moderator) of the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, and Chippewa Chief Robert TallTree, also a musician, artisan and storyteller, were invited to plant and bless the tree.  On August 8, 1996, vandals cut down the Peace Tree.  A second Peace Tree, which still stands today, was planted by Mohawk Chief Jake Swamp on October 19, 1996.

The Peace Tree Tradition

According to Haudenosaunee oral tradition, the Creator sent a Peacemaker to unite the warring Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Mohawk and Onondaga Nations by planting the original Tree of Peace at Onondaga ca. 1000 A.D.  The Tree marked the formation of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.

As told by Chief Jake Swamp, when the Tree was planted, the Peacemaker told the first leaders:

“This will be the symbol that we will use.
The white pine
will be the symbol of peace.
Now the greenery of this tree
will represent the peace you have agreed to.”

“Every time you look at this tree
and its greenery,
you will be reminded of this peace you agreed to
because this tree
never changes color the year round,
it’s always green,
so shall be your peace.”

To learn more about the meaning and history of the Peace Tree, read Paul Wallace’s  White Roots of Peace (Clear Light Publishing, April 1994).

View Past Peace Tree Ceremonies