The Power of Being Native and the Strength of the Syracuse University Community With Lorna Rose ’11, G’21 (Podcast)

Despite growing up on Cayuga ancestral lands, one of the six nations that make up the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of Native Americans in New York, Lorna Rose ’11, G’21 never really identified with her Native heritage.

She was raised Italian American and always thought of her Italian roots when it came to her cultural heritage. But that perspective changed with the sudden passing of her older sister in 2020.

portrait of Lorna Rose
Lorna Rose

That loss sent Rose down a path that would lead to a spiritual reawakening, cultivating an affinity for both her Native culture and her Native heritage. From the depths of sadness, Rose immersed herself in her Cayuga culture, reacclimating and reacquainting herself with her Native roots. In the process, she rediscovered pride in belonging to the Cayuga Nation, the People of the Great Swamp.

“Being there with my sister’s kids and realizing they just lost their closest connection to their Native heritage, as one of their aunts it’s my job, my obligation and my responsibility to step up and reconnect with my heritage. Once I did, it was almost a visceral transformation. My body just felt so much more comfortable,” says Rose, who earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and a master’s degree in communications from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

“I started to overcome a lot of the mental health issues I’ve been battling, building and growing my connection and my awareness of my connection to who I am as a Native woman, and reconnecting with my family and getting back into that community that I’d been removed from so long, being raised away from it. It was really life-changing,” Rose says.