Asa Shenandoah, Daiaweñdodeh, represents two bloodlines. Her mother’s people, the Lumbee and Tuscarora Tribes of North Carolina, are river, swamp and coastal folk. Her father’s people welcomed the Peacemaker into Haudenosaunee territory on the Onondaga Lake. Though Shenandoah was adopted by her father’s nation at birth, her call to water comes from both sides.
Shenandoah attended St. Andrew’s School in Delaware where she discovered rowing. She was moved to the top varsity boat as a sophomore, one of two underclassman on an all senior boat.
That year she competed in the most prestigious high school rowing competition in the world, the 2004 Stotesbury Regatta. The team won with a time of 5:29:05 in the 1500m sprint.
Their success secured them entry into the Henley Royal Regatta in England. Henley attracts Olympic and elite intercollegiate competitors from around the globe. Few high school programs participate. Her team set a divisional course record during the semifinals. They placed second in the finals.
After college Shenandoah was approached to help create a Native crew team in Onondaga. At one time the lake had become one of the most polluted lakes in the world. She saw this as an opportunity to help to repair her community’s relationship with, and bring exposure to, the water.
Shenandoah began coaching for the Syracuse City School crew team and Syracuse Chargers Rowing Club.These programs gave her the experience, certifications and support to grow the first indigenous crew team. Under her leadership the team gained representatives from across the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. She built connections that brought the team instruction from the head coach of Colgate University, training with Virginia Commonwealth University Women’s team and use of Syracuse University’s training facilities. They competed in several regattas within the first year.
This crew of mothers, grandmothers, college students and aunties advocated for women and promoted wellness within their community. Since COVID, however, they are on hiatus. The goal for Shenandoah having a boathouse on the lake would be the first time the Onondaga People would occupy a place on the water in a very long time.