UNY CONAM 2022 Four Directions Humanitarian Award winners announced
July 19, 2022 / By CONAM
Each year the Upper New York (UNY) Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) recognizes one or more individuals who exemplify the qualities of service and advocacy in Native churches and communities. This year we are honored to recognize two individuals: Marilyn Anderson and Dan Cook.
Marilyn Anderson has been an important voice on Upper New York CONAM since 2013. Her advice and input has been invaluable in many decision making situations. She has led us away from a EuroAmerican perspective and into an Indigenous perspective on many occasions, always with her Christian focus grounding her voice.
Marilyn is a lifelong member of Four Corners United Methodist Church and has many happy memories of her grandfather and both parents involvement in Four Corners UMC. Church was always a part of her life and now continues with regular attendance at worship and bible study.
Marilyn was raised on the Cattaraugus Territory where she grew up with two older brothers. She has an adult son and daughter and six grandchildren, ranging in age from 12 - 30, and is actively involved in their lives. She has continued to live at Cattaraugus because that is home and where her family is.
As well as an asset to CONAM, Marilyn has been an important professional within the Seneca Nation health care system. She received her BA from D’Youville College with a degree in sociology and pursued graduate studies in Health Care Administration also at D’Youville College. She has held numerous administrative positions within the health care system at the Seneca Nation throughout her career, most recently being the Health Care Incentive Program Administrator and the Director of Community Health Services, retiring in 2012.
Marilyn keeps the members at Cattaraugus informed about the activities of Four Corners UMC by being a regular contributor to the Seneca Nation newsletter.
As a lifelong member of Four Corners UMC, there are many past pastors and leaders that left an impression on Marilyn. During her teen years, Norm Holskog, who was the athletic director at Thomas Indian School, attracted many kids to become involved at church. Marv Abrams, Seneca, directed an active MYF, and continued programming for kids. Louie Russel and Ken Snyder also had a significant impact on Marilyn’s life at Four Corners. Most recently, Dave Rood was a strong leader and much loved and respected pastor.
When Bishop Webb’s visited Four Corners in 2014, Marilyn spoke of how important Pastor Dave’s ministry was to the membership. She leaned across three people to speak to Dave and said “Pastor Dave, you’re not allowed to ever leave us, in fact you’re not allowed to die!” That shows Marilyn’s wit and willingness to speak her mind, a trait we truly embrace in CONAM.
Dan Cook was born and raised on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. He has five sisters, one brother, and 40 nieces and nephews. His mother, Cecilia, is a fluent Mohawk speaker and always taught her children about taking care of each other, being proud of your native identity, and respect for elders. His father, John, was a church leader in the Hogansburg United Methodist Church and a Tribal Chief.
Dan has been a vital member of CONAM since 2007, first in the North Central New York Conference and then in the Upper New York Conference. Dan said that one of the many highlights as a member of CONAM was meeting and establishing relationships with other Native brothers and sisters in Christ, including Onondaga Nation UMC, and Four Corners UMC on the Seneca Nation. He was also fortunate to attend four conferences out West organized by the Native American Comprehensive Plan of the United Methodist Church.
Dan spoke at the UNY Act of Repentance service in 2015 and shared his wisdom and service as a member of the UNY CONAM until 2022 when he stepped down to focus on his service in his church and community.
A longtime member of the Hogansburg UMC, Dan serves on the Administrative Board, Trustees, Pastor Parish Relations Committee (PPRC), Building Fund, and Finance. He wears many hats as Lay leader, Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, home visitor, and former Sunday School Teacher. He has maintained the church and cemetery grounds since he was a teenager, thanks to the encouragement of his Uncle Harvey and Aunt Cecelia Cook. He serves as a speaker for Native American Ministries Sunday in his own church and area churches.
In 1998, Dan was fortunate to begin work at the Akwesasnee Mohawk Board of Education as an educator, focusing on students with special needs. He worked at the Akwesasnee Mohawk School on Cornwall Island and presently works part-time at the Snye School in Quebec Province. He continues to learn the Mohawk language and support his Akwesasnee community such as at the Sewakwahto Drug and Alcohol Center at Akwesasne. Dan has been in recovery for many years and knows the pain and suffering that addiction brings to individuals and their families. He is grateful to Rev. Jim Barnes and others for their spiritual support.
It is an honor to recognize Dan for his faithful service as a voice for Native people in his church, community, and CONAM. Lisa Jacobs,,a member of the Hogansburg UMC, described Dan perfectly as she wrote, “He is a blessing to Hogansburg UMC and the Akwesasnee community. The light of Christ shines brightly in him.”
We offer our congratulations to Marilyn and Dan as recipients of the 2022 CONAM Four Directions Humanitarian Award. God the Creator has blessed both with many gifts and our spirits and lives are enriched because they selflessly share those gifts with others. They have made a difference in the lives of countless individuals and will continue to do so in the future.