Oneida Indian Nation Hosts Grand Opening Ceremony for the Mary C. Winder Community Center and Box Lacrosse Arena

Posted on June 28, 2024

Oneida Indian Nation Hosts Grand Opening Ceremony for the Mary C. Winder Community Center and Box Lacrosse Arena

Today the Oneida Indian Nation welcomed its Members for a first look at the Mary C. Winder Community Center, one of the largest tribal centers of its kind in the United States. The community center offers many resources to support community building and the well-being of Nation Members, including a field house with a box lacrosse field where the Haudenosaunee Nationals women’s team will hold practices on July 6 and 7 along with a free girls box lacrosse camp for Nation Members, children of enrolled Members, Oneida Indian Nation Health Services clients and the Oneida Indian Nation community on Saturday, July 6.

Oneida Indian Nation Homelands (June 28, 2024) – Earlier today, Oneida Indian Nation Members and leadership gathered for a grand opening ceremony at the new Mary C. Winder Community Center. The 90,000-square-foot community center is among the largest tribal centers of its kind in the United States and offers a host of resources to support cultural engagement, community building and more.

Ahead of the grand opening event, Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter yesterday welcomed United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to visit the new community center as part of her listening tour with several New York State tribal nations. During her visit, Secretary Haaland toured the community center and discussed the Nation’s recent cultural and economic activities and other federal tribal matters with Representative Halbritter. Secretary Haaland is the highest-ranking federal executive branch official to ever visit the Oneida homelands.

The Mary C. Winder Community Center represents a historic investment by the Oneida Indian Nation in strengthening the Oneida community today and for generations to come. Located on the Nation’s ancestral homelands within the Oneida Neighborhoods project, its design is infused with Oneida culture inside and out, including a stately entrance that suggests the threading of a wampum belt.

Inside, the community center is home to a beautiful field house with a box lacrosse field that honors the important role of the game in Oneida and Haudenosaunee culture.

On Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7, the Oneida Indian Nation will proudly welcome the Haudenosaunee Nationals women’s box lacrosse team to the field house for two practices on Saturday and another on Sunday. The team will also offer a girls box lacrosse camp on Saturday for Oneida Indian Nation Members, children of enrolled Oneida Members, Oneida Indian Nation Health Services clients and the Oneida Indian Nation community. The camp will include two sessions, one for ages 15 and under and another for ages 20 and under.

Registration will be limited to 50 participants, and parents and players may register by visiting bit.ly/HNLGirlsBoxCamp.

The community center’s other amenities include:

●      Areas for Onyota’a:ká: (Oneida) language education and cultural programming

●      Community gathering spaces

●      A library

●      An exhibit showcasing the rich legacy and historic resurgence of the Oneida people

●      An accessible swimming pool

●      A gymnasium, fitness center and running track

●      A children’s play area

●      And more…

“The Mary C. Winder Community Center is a profound statement to all who see it on the vibrancy of our community and proof that by restoring our homelands, we have brought to life the dreams of our ancestors,” said Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter. “It represents our incredible history in this region spanning from time immemorial until today and shows that we will always be here until the end of time. The Oneida people can take great pride in this incredible symbol of our resiliency and legacy today and for generations to come.”

Today’s event began as the Oneida Indian Nation flag was raised outside the community center by Nation Members who are veterans of the United States Armed Forces, honoring the Nation’s legacy as America’s First Allies. A community breakfast followed in the center’s multipurpose room before Representative Halbritter and Mary C. Winder Community Center General Manager Nichola Diaz shared remarks with those in attendance.

The grand opening event also featured a Haudenosaunee social dance exhibition held inside the new field house, during which Members were invited to come onto the lacrosse field to join the dancing. After these festivities concluded, Members were able to tour the center and sign up to access its amenities, which will be available beginning Saturday, June 29.

About the Oneida Indian Nation

The Oneida Indian Nation is a federally recognized Indian nation in Central New York. A founding member of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (also known as the Six Nations or Iroquois Confederacy), the Oneida Indian Nation sided with the Americans in the Revolutionary War and was thanked by Congress and President George Washington for its loyalty and assistance. Today, the Oneida Indian Nation consists of about 1,000 enrolled Members, most of them living in Central New York. The Nation’s enterprises, which employ more than 5,000 people, include Turning Stone Resort Casino, YBR Casino & Sports Book, Point Place Casino, The Lake House at Sylvan Beach, The Cove at Sylvan Beach, Maple Leaf Markets, SāvOn Convenience stores, Verona Collective, a seed-to-sale cannabis operation, RV Park, and marinas. Proceeds from these enterprises are used to rebuild the Nation’s economic base and provide essential services, including housing, health care, and education incentives and programs, to its Members.

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