Thomas Sullivan is a blend of Mohawk and Irish. And he looks it. With a handsome mug complete with bright eyes, he is a magnificent storyteller.
During his annual Native American history display last Friday Aug. 7 in Syracuse, he talked in circles about his people as he explained the images.
He put the show up on Oswego Blvd in that little triangle of grass across from the Erie Canal Museum, one block north of city hall. It actually started across the street at the rock, which commemorates the Onondagas helping settlers in Syracuse.
The show (see gallery at cnylink.com) is a series of photographs, paintings and graphic images that give life to the Native American experience from the Iroquois Nation across the great plains, through Wounded Knee and out to the Pacific Coast.
He doesn't sugarcoat their story. He points to photographs of markers that note where the savages were killed by the new colony's army; often after helping settlers to adjust to their new land. There was a picture of Abraham Lincoln.
Sullivan explains how he gave the order to hang 17 native Americans. He was backed into it politically, but still he did it. Sullivan talked about how George Washington was a monster, as he sent his army to slaughter the same Indians who came and fed his army when they were trapped at Valley Forge.
Throughout the show there are several images of young white girls. These are young women, Sullivan says who disappeared and are thought to be buried on the Onondaga Nation. One was found dead, naked in a blanket. Her death was ruled accidental because of exposure. He tells an incredible story about the night SU student Tammy Mahoney went missing, naming local Indians that were involved in the unsolved murder. Recounting seeing a young man covered in blood come to his mother's house that very night.