#Esganye2k16 Unites The Six Nations Confederacy Through Social Media

The past year’s first big Facebook challenge trend across Indian Country didn’t involve diving undressed into a pile of snow, or being dunked under buckets of ice water, it involved a love of Haudenosaunee culture expressed by our young leaders ready to share with the social media world their beautiful Women’s Dance social songs.

Wanting to see something different trending other than “that 5 pictures that make me beautiful thing,” Brett Logan of Tonawanda started #esganye2k16  in a Facebook post on January 29, 2016. From there, he had tagged a few friends from Onondaga and Akwesasne to get it started. Soon enough, Facebook users all across the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy busted out their rattles and water drums to post videos of themselves singing traditional and original esganye Women’s Dance songs, nominating their friends and family across all the communities to participate in the challenge.

WATCH: an #esganye2k16 contribution from Facebooker Diosa Hall: 

If you type in #esganye2k16 in the Facebook search engine, you will be gifted with video after video of social songs and Haudenosaunee languages and culture being shared loud and proud. Shares, “likes,” and comments of encouragement, not to mention thousands upon thousands of video views, have brought longhouse music to a new level of appreciation in the digital age.

“I don’t personally have a favourite video. I think it’s good to see everyone singing our songs and even some people are sharing their songs that they have made up,” says Nate Sullivan, one of Brett’s friends who was tagged in the challenge to help kick-off the trend.
“I see people’s statuses saying how good it is to hear our songs being sung. It’s a good feeling even to see people who aren’t really big on singing. It gives them confidence to try and peoples feedback is always good.”

WATCH: Jo Rice’s contribution to #Esganye2k16

“I had been wondering if I’d get nominated,” says Karonhyawake Jeff Doreen, a Mohawk language teacher who is well-known for translating popular music into Kanien’kéha. He points out that tsyonathonwisen’néha is how you say Women’s Dance in the Mohawk language. Esganye is Women’s Dance in Cayuga.

“Lotunt nominated me and he wrote a song, so I thought I’d write one as well. This is the first Esganye song I have ever written and was surprised at how easy it flowed out as I wrote it.”

Karonhyawake says his favourite video is by Teha’nikonhrathe from Tyendinaga. “He’s young, he has a great voice and I particularly like the Women’s songs that are written in a minor key. The songs in the minor keys make me feel connected somehow.”

While many common Facebook challenges are used to either bring awareness to an issue or out of complete novelty and lack of thought, it’s refreshing to see that we can use Facebook challenges to bring culture into a space where there are no limits to exposure. Thanks to #esganye2k16, anyone can listen to haudenosaunee music all day.

WATCH: Karonhyawake’s original take on #Esganye2k16

Click here to check out more #esganye2k16