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Peace Tree Ceremony

2021 Peace Tree Ceremony

Merv Tano, President of the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management
Merv Tano, President, International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management and adjunct faculty, Haskell Indian Nations University

The Native American Studies Program at West Virginia University will hold its annual Peace Tree Ceremony Nov. 2, at 1 p.m. with guest of honor Mervyn L. Tano, an attorney who for the past 25 years has served as president of the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management, a law and policy research institution based in Denver.

The ceremony will include traditional hand drum songs and a symbolic burying of the weapons of war. A raptor from the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia will be presented to symbolize the eagle the Peacemaker placed as a sentry at the top of the original tree at Onondaga. In addition, all those attending in person will be invited to add a prayer tie, with any good intention they choose, on the Peace Tree, which is located between Martin and E. Moore Halls on the downtown campus.

Tano has worked with Indian tribes and organizations for more than 40 years, including as director of planning and budget at the Administration for Native Americans and as general counsel and director of environmental programs at the Council of Energy Resource Tribes. He is adjunct faculty at Haskell Indian Nations University and has also written and taught extensively on Indigenous peoples’ law and policy issues related to climate, risk, cultural resources, heritage management, environmental justice, food and agriculture, and science and technology policy.

“Every year, the WVU Peace Tree ceremony offers the community a time to reflect on the lessons of the Peacemaker, highlighting the importance of unity and agreeing we are stronger together,” said  Bonnie Brown, coordinator of the Native American Studies Program. “The sovereign nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy demonstrate that it’s possible to coexist with mutual respect and inclusive dialogue.”

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