MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) – Located between Martin and Elizabeth Moore Halls on West Virginia University’s downtown campus, the 30th anniversary of the Peace Tree planting on Wednesday celebrated Native American history.

“The first Peace Tree was planted in 1992 and vandals chopped it down four years later, but the native American studies committee got together and immediately replanted and the mantra has been ‘you can’t chop down peace,'” said Bonnie Brown, coordinator of the Native American Studies Program at WVU.

“If you keep working for peace and adhering to the principles of peace, you get there eventually.”

The Peace Tree tradition, per Haudenosaunee (Iroquoian) oral history, centers on the Creator sending the Peacemaker to unite the warring Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk nations circa 1,000 years ago. He planted the original white pine Tree of Peace at Onondaga to symbolize these Five Nations forming the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. It was later Six Nations, with the addition of the Tuscarora.

In 1992, WVU began its Native American Studies program and the Peace Tree was planted outside E. Moore Hall. 

The ceremony included Marie Watt, a nationally renowned contemporary artist and citizen of the Seneca Nation, as the guest of honor. In collaboration with the Art Museum of WVU, Watt held a public presentation at the Canady Creative Arts Center titled, “A Shared Horizon (Western Door),” and Watt’s exhibition, “Storywork: The Prints of Marie Watt.”

Guests were invited to add a prayer tie to the Peace Tree.