Last Saturday I attended the Native American Institute for the Hudson Valley’s conference on the Mohicans. The organization is based in Red Hook in Dutchess County. The New Netherland Museum and Replica Ship Half Moon provided support.
The conference included speakers, a walking tour to four sites all along Main Street, and a closing reception in a still-active colonial church. One of the speakers was from Canaan in Columbia County, and Albany, Kinderhook, Fort Ticonderoga, and New Stockbridge in Madison County figured prominently in the program. The border war between New York and Massachusetts in which the Mohicans became entangled was a constant topic.
The local police chief moderated the conference which included three Mohicans from the Wisconsin reservation. The local selectwoman welcomed the audience of 50+ people to the conference in the Town Hall. She was a selectwoman and not a Town Supervisor because the conference was held in Stockbridge, MA. A September conference will be at the New York State Museum.
During the conference, I realized there are many history conferences offered on an annual basis in New York State as well one-time or rotating conferences. Does anyone maintain a list of these conferences?
I ask because people do travel to history conferences. Travel and tourism are in the news again thanks to a tourism summit and nearly $60,000,000 pledged by Governor Cuomo. People in the historic sites know that the travel industry with its billions in revenues and hundreds of thousands of jobs and cultural heritage or history tourism business are two different things. The people staying in the motels by Laguardia Airport don’t visit the historic sites in Queens and the international visitors to the US Open in Flushing are great for the hotels in Manhattan but irrelevant for history site visits. Hopefully one day we can deal with the reality of the difference between the travel business and history tourism.
History-related conferences have been neglected so far as part of the conversation about developing tourism revenue and these conferences need help. The Museumwise/Museum Association of New York and Association of Public Historians of New York State conferences in Syracuse/Liverpool last month did require lodging and meals as will the Conference on New York History next month in Cooperstown.
For example, while I attended the Mohican conference, I received an email asking for help in promoting the 21st Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend. How much of the $60,000,000 will go to funding history conferences and Civil War sesquicentennial events?
After I returned from the conference, I received an email about helping on Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama. How much of the $60,000,000 will go to funding history events related to the French and Indian War, or the American Revolution, the bicentennial of the War of 1812?
What was the purpose of Ken Jackson’s talk at the Path Through History project kick-off event last August in Albany which mentioned the various areas in which NYS played a prominent role in American history? How many conferences on topics in American history of national importance that could be held in NYS? Conferences bring visitors and sometimes as part of those conference sessions, attendees visit historic sites as well.
Consider the following example:
The Pioneer America Society: Association for the Preservation of Artifacts & Landscapes (PAS: APAL) will hold its 45th annual conference in the Mohawk Valley Region of New York, from October 9 to 12, 2013. The meeting headquarters will be in the restored 1912 Hotel Utica, designed by Eisenvein and Johnson of Buffalo, in historic downtown Utica, New York. The 2012 Conference theme is: *The Mohawk Valley – New England Extended: Landscapes of Cultural and Economic Change & Diversity*. The Mohawk Valley in New York State has a rich and diverse history that includes landscapes from Native Americans, vernacular houses and barns influenced by the settlers from New England and their passion for classical revival styles, along with canals and railroads that produced urban and industrial landscapes. Nearby are also landscapes of leisure (Adirondacks), religion (the burnt over district), and Cooperstown, a shrine to America’s pastime.
I had never heard of this organization so I contacted them after I received this notice with a cc to Brian Howard, Oneida County Historical Society. He was not familiar with this conference and based on the reply I received, it appears the conference organizers have not yet reached out to any local historical organizations. That might change. So here we have people coming from out of state to stay in a NYS hotel and pay NYS sales tax and lodging tax. How much of the $60,000,000 will go towards holding and promoting history-based conferences in NYS?
The mechanism already exists to some extent through the New York Council for the Humanities but the resources available are small. Let’s include history conferences both about the events, people, and sites of the state as well as the national history conferences (for whom NYC aka Manhattan often is too expensive) as part of the discussion the history community, not the tourism community, needs to have with Governor Cuomo.
Who will arrange such a meeting?