Tag Archives: Native American History

Discovering Columbus From Atop Columbus Circle


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Columbus steers over Central Park

The enormous thirteen-foot tall explorer is steering the Santa Maria right over Central Park. Tatzu Nishi’s “Discovering Columbus” allows visitors to climb 75 feet up the column in Columbus Circle to see the famous statue up close. Nishi has surrounded it with a living room stage set, furnished with modern accoutrements from Bloomingdale’s, that gives a truly odd twist to the experience of seeing the pock-marked monument set atop a coffee table.
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Thomas Symons: A Noted Western Engineer


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In 1847, Thomas Symons operated a book bindery in the village of Keeseville, offering ledgers, journals, receipt books, and similar products. Rebinding of materials was much in demand in those days, a service that helped expand his clientele. While Thomas, Sr., was successful in building a business, his son, Thomas, Jr., would play an important role in building a nation.

Thomas William Symons, Jr., was a Keeseville native, born there in 1849. When he was a few years old, the family moved to Flint, Michigan, where several members remained for the rest of their lives. His younger twin brothers, John and Samuel, operated Symons Brothers & Company, the second largest wholesale firm in the state. They became two of Michigan’s most prominent men in social, political, and business circles.

Thomas chose a different route, completing school and applying to the US Military Academy at West Point. After acceptance, he proved to be no ordinary student, graduating at the top of the Class of 1874. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers, and served at Willett’s Point, about 50 miles south of West Point. After two years, he was ready for some field work, and his timing couldn’t have been better.

Symons was assigned to join the Wheeler Expedition under fellow West Point alumnus George Wheeler. The travels of explorers Lewis and Clark and Zeb Pike are better known, but the Wheeler Expedition is one of four that formed the nucleus of the US Geological Survey’s founding.

The engineers, Symons among them, not only explored, but recorded details of their findings. The land encompassing Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah was surveyed using triangulation, and more than 70 maps were created. Their studies on behalf of America’s government produced volumes on archaeology, astronomy, botany, geography, paleontology, and zoology. The possibilities of roads, railroads, agriculture, and settlement were addressed.

The experience Thomas gained during this work was invaluable. In 1878, he was promoted to First Lieutenant. In 1879, Symons was appointed Engineer Officer of the Department of the Columbia, and was promoted to captain in 1880. Similar to the work he had done under Wheeler, Thomas was now in charge of studying the area referred to as the “Inland Empire of the Pacific Northwest,” focusing on the upper Columbia River and its tributaries.

Much of the land was wilderness, and the job was not without danger. The American government was notorious for breaking treaties with Indians, and groups of surveyors in the region were driven off by angry natives who said they had never sold the rights to their land.

Symons was a surveyor, but he was also an officer of the military. Leading a company of the 21st Infantry from Portland, Oregon, into Washington, he faced off against 150 armed warriors. The situation was potentially disastrous, but Thomas listened to the concerns of the Indians, learning their histories and beliefs. Bloodshed was avoided as Symons skillfully negotiated a truce, allowing him to survey from the Snake River north to the Canadian border, unimpeded.

Much of the upper Columbia study was conducted in a small boat carrying Symons, two soldiers, and several Indians. His report provided details of the region’s geology and history, a review so thorough that it was published as a congressional document. Combined with his earlier surveys of Oregon, it made Symons the government’s number one man in the Northwest.

Whether or not his superiors agreed with him, Symons addressed the Indians’ issues in prominent magazine articles, sympathizing with their plight. Few knew the situation better than Thomas, and he freely expressed his opinions.

Besides exploring and mapping the Northwest, he chose locations for new army outposts, built roads, and carried out military duties. He also became a prominent citizen of Spokane, purchasing land from the Northern Pacific Railroad and erecting the Symons Building, a brick structure containing commercial outlets and housing units. (A third rendition of the Symons Block remains today an important historical building in downtown Spokane.)

Thomas’ proven abilities led to a number of important assignments. In 1882, he was placed on the Mississippi River Commission, taking charge of improvements on the waterway. In 1883, the Secretary of State asked Symons to lead the US side of the joint boundary commission redefining the border with Mexico. Surveying, checking and replacing border markers, and other work was conducted while averaging 30 miles per day on rough ground in intense heat. For his efforts, Thomas received formal thanks from the State Department.

He was then sent to Washington, D.C., where he worked for six years on city projects, principally the water supply, sewage system, and pavements. He also developed complete plans for a memorial bridge (honoring Lincoln and Grant) connecting Washington to Arlington, Virginia. (A modified version was built many years later.)

Symons’ next assignment took him back to familiar territory, the Northwest. Based in Portland, he was given charge of developing river and harbor facilities in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. He did primary engineering work on canals, including one in Seattle that remains a principal feature of the city, and planned the tideland areas for Ballard, Seattle, and Tacoma harbors. Seattle’s present railroad lines and manufacturing district were included in planning for the famed harbor facilities.

On the Pacific coast, Thomas’ work on the world-renowned jetty works at the mouth of the Columbia River was featured in Scientific American magazine. He also provided the War Department with surveys and estimates for harbor construction at Everett, Washington.

Next week: Even bigger and better things, including historic work in New York State.

Photos: Thomas Williams Symons, engineer; Modern version of the Symons Block in Spokane, Washington.
Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 books and more than 100 articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 24 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

CFP: Sugar and Beyond Conference Planned


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The John Carter Brown Library seeks proposals for a conference entitled “Sugar and Beyond,” to be held on October 25-26, 2013, and in conjunction with the Library’s Fall 2013 exhibition on sugar in the early modern period, especially its bibliographical and visual legacies. The centrality of sugar to the development of the Atlantic world is now well known.

Sugar was the ‘green gold’ that planters across the Americas staked their fortunes on, and it was the commodity that became linked in bittersweet fashion to the rise of the Atlantic slave trade. Producing unprecedented quantities of sugar through their enforced labor, Africans on plantations helped transform life not only in the colonies but also in Europe, where consumers incorporated the luxury commodity into their everyday rituals and routines.

“Sugar and Beyond” seeks to evaluate the current state of scholarship on sugar, as well as to move beyond it by considering related or alternative consumer cultures and economies. Given its importance, sugar as a topic still pervades scholarship on the Americas and has been treated in many recent works about the Caribbean, Brazil, and other regions. This conference thus aims to serve as an occasion where new directions in the study of sugar can be assessed.

At the same time, the connection of sugar to such broader topics as the plantation system, slavery and abolition, consumption and production, food, commodity exchange, natural history, and ecology has pointed the way to related but distinct areas of inquiry. Although sugar was one of the most profitable crops of the tropical Americas, it was not the only plant being cultivated.

Furthermore, although the plantation system dominated the lives of African and other enslaved peoples, they focused much of their efforts at resistance around the search for ways to mitigate or escape the regime of sugar planting. The organizers thus welcome scholars from all disciplines and national traditions interested in exploring both the power and limits of sugar in the early Atlantic world.

Topics that papers might consider include but are not limited to the following:

–The development of sugar in comparative context
–The rise of sugar and new conceptions of aesthetics, taste, and cultural refinement
–Atlantic cultures of consumption
–Coffee, cacao, and other non-sugar crops and commodities
–Natural history and related genres of colonial description and promotion
–Imperial botany and scientific programs of agricultural expansion and experimentation
–Alternative ecologies to the sugar plantation
–Plant transfer and cultivation by indigenous and African agents
–Provision grounds and informal marketing
–Economies of subsistence, survival, and resistance
–Reimagining the Caribbean archive beyond sugar: new texts and methodological approaches

In order to be considered for the program, send a paper proposal of 500 words and CV to jcbsugarandbeyond@gmail.com. The deadline for submitting proposals is December 15, 2012.

The conference organizers include Christopher P. Iannini (Rutgers), Julie Chun Kim (Fordham), K. Dian Kriz (Brown).

Photo: Havemeyers & Elder’s, later Domino, sugar refinery in New York City in the 1880s. Photo courtesy wgpa.org.

Northeast Open Atlatl Chamionsphip Begins Today


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People from all over the northeast begin gathering today at the Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison, Vermont, for this weekend’s annual Open Atlatl Championship. The event is back at Chimney Point after two years at Mount Independence, due to the site’s closure during the Lake Champlain Bridge construction project.

The atlatl is the ancient tool used the world over before the bow and arrow to effectively project darts and spears for hunting. During the bridge project archeology work, a number of projectile points were found here, indicating the atlatl was used historically on the very location of this championship, now in its 17th year. Continue reading

Touring Old Mine Road: The Esopus-Minisink Trail


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The other day, driving home from Kingston, I could not help but notice the sea of New York State Education Department signs (NYSED) that lined the roadside. The blue and yellow plaques are designed to alert those passing by of significant historic events that had occurred somewhere in the vicinity of the signs. These signs made me think about when I lived in Boston and followed that city’s Freedom Trail. Continue reading

12th Annual Algonquian Peoples Seminar Saturday


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum are hosting the 12th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar at the NYS Museum in Albany this Saturday, September 15, 2012. A complete list of topics related to Northeastern Native American culture from prehistory to present is included below, along with the days itinerary.

9:00 – 9:30 Registration -
9:30 – 10:00 Welcome & Board Introduction: Mariann Mantzouris & Kevin Fuerst
Presentation of Colors by the Mohican Veterans

10:00 – 10:30 JoAnn Schedler
Mohicans in the Civil War
JoAnn Schedler, BSN, MSM, RN and a Major, US Army Nurse Corps Reserves (Retired). She served over twenty years with the 452 Combat Support Hospitals (CSH) of Wisconsin. She is a life member of the Mohican Veterans and Reserve Officers Association and a member of the American Legion in Gresham, WI. In 1985 to present she serves as a founding board member for Indian Summer Festival. She serves on the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Tribal Historic Preservation Committee and the Constitution Committee and is a Peacemaker for the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Court. She was the first Nursing Instructor for the Associate Degree Program at the College of the Menominee Nation 2008/ 2009 and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nurses since 1992.This continues a presentation given last year on this subject.

10:30 – 11:00 Judy Hartley
Mohican Diet and Disease in Pre-contact America.
Written information by early Dutch explorers as well as oral histories transcribed by missionaries has provided insight into both the diet and general health of the Mohican Indians at the time of the arrival of
Henry Hudson in the early 17th century. From these sources as well as current-day research, it is possible to capture the essence of Mohican daily life before the arrival of Europeans.

Judith Hartley grew up on the Stockbridge-Munsee/Band of the Mohicans reservation in northern Wisconsin. Her mother was a Mohican who was active in tribal governance—serving for years as the elected tribal treasurer. Judith left the reservation upon high school graduation to attend college. She has a B.S. degree in biology and worked for years in pharmaceutical research. Currently she has obtained an MBA and has worked for the past 22 years for Roche Diagnostics Corporation, a global pharmaceutical and health care company. As retirement approaches, Judith endeavors to give something back to the tribe by way of historical research, poetry and speeches concerning her people.

11:00 – 11:30 John M. Smith
Esopus Indians and the Ulster County Trader
Findings from a recently discovered Dutch account book of the fur trade in Ulster County are discussed that provide new insights into the lives of Esopus individuals and their families in the early eighteenth
century.

John M. Smith is an independent historian and contributing author to New York State Museum bulletins, the Hudson River Valley Review, and co-editor with Dutch Historian and translator Kees Waterman in the forth coming book Munsee Indian Trade in Ulster County, New York, 1711-1732.

11:30 – 12:00 Katy L. Chiles
Hendrick Aupaumut: An Eighteenth-Century Mohican Diplomat
This paper provides an introduction to the work of Hendrick Aupaumut, an eighteenth-century Mohican diplomat. A sachem who fought on the American side of the Revolutionary War, Captain Aupaumut was tapped by President Washington to serve as a diplomat to the British-allied Miami and Shawnee leaders who fought against white settlers. Aupaumut’s 1792 manuscript, a record written for U.S. governmental officials, was printed in the 1827 Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. This talk muses over Aupaumut’s “errors” in spelling and grammar, including one interesting clause: “these white people was” (sic). One might be tempted to assume, like his original interlocuters, that Aupaumut, as a Native American who had yet to master the English language, constructed a sentence with flawed subject-verb agreement. However, unlike U.S. officials who wrote that the manuscript contained  many “incorrectnesses” (sic), Chiles argues that Aupaumut’s peculiar locution astutely explored the most contemplated concerns of early America: could the many former white British subjects ever become one  people? What would the process of becoming “E Pluribus Unum” actually look like? Could people be both singular (denoted by the number of the verb was) and plural (denoted by the number of the demonstrative adjective these), and, most importantly for Aupaumut, how would all this effect how white settlers would interact with both his own and other Native American tribes? Furthermore, by comparing Aupaumut’s manuscript with the Society’s Memoirs, this presentation illustrates how editorial practices used by Aupaumut’s publishers conditioned the “original” text and allows us to consider Aupaumut’s intellectual sovereignty.

Katy L. Chiles teaches and writes about Native American and African-American literature, early American literature and culture, and critical race theory at the University of Tennessee. Her work has
appeared in journals such as PMLA and American Literature and has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Transformable Race and the Literatures of Early America. This summer she was honored to do research at the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation in Bowler, Wisconsin. There she was able to share her work with and to learn from Sherry White, Nathalee Kristiansen, Leah Miller, and Betty Groh, all of
the Mohican Nation, Stockbridge-Munsee Band.

12:00 -1:30 Lunch on your own. Eating areas are located in the museum  should you want to bring your own lunch. There are three restaurants within two blocks of the Museum.

1:30 – 2:00 Karen Hess
The Coeymans Family and the Mohicans
One of the largest 17th century land transactions between the River Indians and European settlers was transacted in 1672 by Maghshapeet, sachem of the Katskill Indians, to Barent Coeymans, Dutch colonial
miller. Confirmed as a patent in 1673, and awarded a royal confirmation in 1714, this vast tract of ancient tribal lands south of Albany stretched foreleven miles along the west bank of the Hudson River and westward twelve miles into the wilderness. The history of this patent, the home of two divergent cultures, and the relationships of Barent Coeymans and the Katskill Mohicans, will be explored in this
presentation.

Karen Hess is preparing a book about Ariaantje Coeymans whose portrait hangs at the Albany Institute of History & Art where Mrs. Hess is a docent. She has presented her research at a NYS Historical Association conference as well as other historical societies. An essential element of the story of this colonial woman is her family’s intriguing relationship with the Mohican Indians.

2:00 – 2:45 Eric Ruijssenaars
A Dutch Founding Father: Abraham Staats
In 1642, surgeon Abraham Staats and his wife Trijntje Jochems emigrated from Amsterdam to Kiliaen van Rensselaer’s vast estate, Rensselaerswijck (now part of Albany and Rensselaer counties). Staats’s job was not simply to treat ailing residents but also to advise the Patroon. He  served as a magistrate of the court. Outside of court, he was often called on to resolve disputes between his neighbors. Well respected  within Rensselaerswijck, Staats was also something of a diplomat. Entitled to trade in beavers, he learned the Algonquin Indian language and was, therefore, able to act as an intermediary between colonists and Native Americans. The sloop Staats purchased to further his commercial  interests placed him in contact with leaders in New Amsterdam (New York City) and allowed him to develop a personal relationship with Peter Stuyvesant.

Eric Ruijssenaars studied history at Leiden University graduating in 1988. He has written two books about Brussels and the Brontës (published in 2000 and 2003), is co-founder of Brussels Brontë Group in 2005. He started a bureau for historical research in Dutch Archives, in 2002. In 2011/2012 Eric was chosen Senior Scholar in Residence at the New Netherland Research Center in Albany.

2:45 – 3:15 William Staats
Hoogeberg, the Staats Family, and the Mohicans.
Staats Island (or the Hoogeberg: the “high hill.”) has been in the Staats family since the mid-17th century. The Joachim Staats homestead, dating from 1696, remains a family residence. Many generations of the family are interred here overlooking the beautiful Hudson River. This is  where Colonel Philip Staats saved the life of the Mohican, Ben Pie, in the late 1700s. It is no longer an island but remains a place of great history with many stories to tell.

William Staats graduated from SUNY Albany with an MS in Education in 1957. Bill grew up at Staats Island near Castleton-on-Hudson, NY in the 1696 Joachim Staats homestead. He taught in 1965-66 at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and also taught for several years in Hudson High School and for 35 years in the accounting and computer areas at Hudson Valley Community College. In 2009 he authored Three Centuries on the Hudson River.

3:15 – 3:45 Francis “Jess” Robinson
Ceremonialism and Inter-Regional Exchange Two Millennia before the Fur Trade: a View from the East Creek Site
The East Creek cemetery was excavated between 1933 and 1935 on the southeastern shore of Lake Champlain by representatives of the Museum of the American Indian- Heye Foundation. Despite its unfortunate desecration, the site contains rare and remarkable evidence of the elaborate ceremonialism and long distance exchange obtaining during the Early Woodland period (ca. 3,000-2,000 cal yr BP). While the presentation will concentrate on some of the more salient aspects of the site and what it suggests about the Native groups participating in the Early Woodland interaction sphere, mention will also be made of the analogies that one may cautiously advance regarding trade and exchange during the contact era.

Francis “Jess” Robinson is a PhD Candidate at the University at Albany-SUNY, a Research Supervisor at the University of Vermont Consulting Archaeology Program, and a current adjunct faculty member in
the Anthropology Department at UVM.

3:45 – 4:00 Kevin Fuerst
The Lebanon Spring: A Work in Progress
Kevin Fuerst, NAI President, long-time board member, and New Lebanon Town Historian will provide a status update on his efforts to preserve the famous curative Lebanon Spring and interpret its Native American associations.

4:00 – 4:15 Closing Remarks and Retreat of the Colors” by Mohican Veterans to conclude the conference.

Fort Hunter: ‘Who Owned The Fort?’ Talk Tuesday


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Tricia Shaw, the education coordinator at Schoharie Crossing, will share her latest research in a lecture entitled “Who Owned the Fort?” sponsored by the Friends of Schoharie Crossing on Tuesday.  The presentation will explain the Fort Hunter’s history and trace the families who lived at the confluence of the Mohawk River and Schoharie Creek including the Mabee, the Enders, the Putman, the Wemple and the Voorhees families. Continue reading

The Oneida Nation: People of the Standing Stone


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Karim M. Tiro’s The People of the Standing Stone: The Oneida Nation From Revolution Through the Era of Removal (Univ. of Mass. Press, 2011) traces the history of the Oneida’s experiences from the American Revolution to the mid-nineteenth century.

Between 1765 and 1845, the Oneida Indian Nation weathered a trio of traumas: war, dispossession, and division. During the American War of Independence, the Oneidas became the revolutionaries most important Indian allies. They undertook a difficult balancing act, helping the patriots while trying to avoid harming their Iroquois brethren.

Despite the Oneidas wartime service, they were dispossessed of nearly all their lands through treaties with the state of New York. In eighty years the Oneidas had gone from being an autonomous, powerful people in their ancestral homeland to being residents of disparate, politically exclusive reservation communities separated by up to nine hundred miles and completely surrounded by non-Indians.

The Oneidas physical, political, and emotional division persists to this day. Even for those who stayed put, their world changed more in cultural, ecological, and demographic terms than at any time before or since. Oneidas of the post-Revolutionary decades were reluctant pioneers, undertaking more of the adaptations to colonized life than any other generation. Amid such wrenching change, maintaining continuity was itself a creative challenge. The story of that extraordinary endurance lies at the heart of this book. Additional materials, including teaching resources, are available online.

The author specializes in North America from the 16th through the mid-­19th centuries. He is also the author of Along the Hudson and Mohawk: The 1790 Journey of Count Paolo Andreani (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006). Tiro is an Associate Professor of History at Xavier University and is currently researching the history of the United States sugar industry.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Fort Ticonderoga 1759 Living History Weekend


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Join General Amherst’s British and provincial army at Fort Ticonderoga this Saturday and Sunday, August 4 and 5 and experience the daily life of a soldier in the aftermath of the destruction of France’s southernmost stronghold on Lake Champlain.

Hear the roar of musketry as these well-trained soldiers continue to prepare for conflict. Lend a hand as these soldiers move men and material from Lake Champlain to supply the army encamped around the Fort. Meet British staff officers and learn about their overall strategy in the French and Indian War in 1759.


Highlighted programming will be offered throughout the weekend including musket drills and firing demonstrations, activities on the shores of Lake Champlain as troops unload supplies, Fife & Drum Corps performances, and even an 18th-century Sunday morning Divine Service. Admission to “1759 Relief & Refit” is included with FortTiconderoga’s general admission ticket. Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9:30 am until 5 pm daily. A complete event schedule can be found online or by calling 518-585-2821.

“’Relief & Refit’ will take place on the very ground where General Amherst’s troops secured this strategic victory,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation. “This weekend-long program will dramatically bring to life the experience of the British and American provincial soldiers who were part of the 1759 campaign. In this British living history weekend event, we will recreate and practice the regular, naval, and ranging elements of this Army as it prepared to move on towards Canada in August of 1759.”

“Fort Ticonderoga offers an unparalleled and unique experience for visitors to be immersed in a dramatic moment in time,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga’s Executive Director. “What took place at Fort Ticonderoga determined in part the fate of North America. The capture of the Fort in 1759 was critical to the overall British strategy which ultimately led to their victory during the French and Indian War.”

This living history weekend will include a Friday evening program at the site of the 18th-century French saw mill, located in present-day Historic Ticonderoga. Visitors will watch as a detachment of Massachusetts Provincial soldiers haul timber back to the Fort with a bateau. Talk with men from Rogers’ Rangers, fresh from a scout up Mount Defiance. The French & Indian War history ofTiconderoga will come to life in this fascinating evening program located in the town park from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

Pre-European Agriculture in the Champlain Valley


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When I set out to write From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in New York’s Champlain Valley, I became discouraged by the mixed information coming from various authors.

While there is archeological evidence of Native settlements in Plattsburgh at Cumberland Bay, across Lake Champlain in Vermont and along the Hudson River and its tributaries, little information exists for the rest of the Adirondack Coast. Continue reading

Iroquois Indian Museum Hosting Early Technology Day


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On July 4, The Iroquois Indian Museum will host its Early Technology Day, billed as a hands-on learning experience about life in early America.

Visitors can watch and participate in the process of flint knapping (the ancient art of making chipped stone tools), Primitive fire making, Atlatl spear throwing and early archery. There will be displays of projectile points, tools, and local archaeological finds from the Museum’s archaeology department. Have you ever found an artifact? Please bring it with you and the Museum’s experts will try to identify it for you. Continue reading

Native Artisans at the Fenimore Art Museum


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The Fenimore Art Museum welcomes five Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) artists this summer to spend three days in the museum galleries and outdoors at our Native American interpretive site, Otsego: A Meeting Place. Engaging conversations with these artists offer a delightful, insightful way to learn about traditional Native American art skills that have been handed down for generations.

June 18-20: In addition to traditional pottery, Natasha Smoke Santiago, a self-taught artist, casts the bellies of pregnant women and then forms the casts into sculptural objects incorporating Haudenosaunee craft techniques. She will be creating pottery on site and sharing its relationship to Haudenosaunee tradition and stories.

July 17-19: Penelope S. Minner is a fourth-generation traditional artist making black ash splint baskets and cornhusk dolls. Working in the customary Seneca way, Penny uses no forms for basket shapes and sizes.

August 5-7: Karen Ann Hoffman creates beautiful decorative pieces following the traditions of Iroquois raised beadwork and embodying Iroquoisworldviews.

August 21-23: Ken Maracle creates beads from quahog shells and has been making reproduction wampum belts for more than 25 years. He also makes condolence canes, horn rattles, water drums, and traditional headdresses. He speaks the Cayuga language and is knowledgable about the history of wampum and his people.

August 30-September 1: Iroquois sculptor Vincent Bomberry carves images of Iroquois life in stone.

Artisans will be in the museum galleries and at Otsego: AMeeting Place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During the Artisan Series, visitors can explore the extraordinary Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art, a collection of over 800 objects representative of a broad geographic range of North American Indian cultures. Tours of Otsego: A Meeting Place and its Seneca Log House and Mohawk Bark House are also available.

Admission: adults and juniors (13-64) is $12.00; seniors (65+): $10.50; and free for children (12 and under). Admission is always free for NYSHA members, active military, and retired career military personnel. Members enjoy free admission all year.

For more information, visit FenimoreArtMuseum.org.

Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama Seeks Volunteers


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The non-profit Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama is seeking volunteers and interns to assist with a variety of short term and long term assignments for their annual theatrical production in Lake George, NY this summer. This outdoor drama, which recently garnered the “Tourism Excellence for Cultural Heritage” from the NYS Tourism & Vacation Association, brings alive the pages of history through James Fenimore Cooper’s classic novel.

Participants will have a chance to learn more about local history, support a local non-profit organization and assist in bringing the historical dramatic performance to audiences of all ages. This opportunity also provides a learning experience for college students seeking to enter careers in theater, design, fashion design, construction, tourism, public relations and marketing.

Volunteers and college interns are specifically being sought to assist with costume, scenery and set production, delivering of promotional flyers to surrounding businesses, etc., as well as some duties during the actual performance dates which would include ticket booth, ushers  and back stage helpers.

Training and supervision will be provided but experience with live performances is a plus. Any volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. All volunteers will receive complimentary passes to a performance of the historical outdoor drama and will be recognized for their efforts. Performance
dates for 2012 are July 27 to August 18th, with nightly performances on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. There is one matinee performance on Saturday August 4th. Most volunteer assignments start in early June.

For more information about The Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama visit www.LastoftheMohicans.org. This summer’s production has received support in part by the Warren County Tourism Occupancy Tax Fund and with public funds from the New York Council on  the Arts Decentralization Program and administered by the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council.

Those interested in applying for volunteer work should email volunteer@LastoftheMohicans.
org or call 518-791-6342 or e-mail Maura Fox at volunteer@LastoftheMohicans.org by May 15.

Schoharie Crossing Announces Temporary Exhibits


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The Schoharie Crossing Visitor Center is presenting two small temporary exhibits for the 2012 season (May 1- October 31). The exhibits are available for viewing during the regular Visitor Center Hours: Wednesday- Saturday 10AM to 5PM and on Sundays 1PM to 5PM. The Schoharie Crossing Visitor Center is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and is located at 129 Schoharie Street in Fort Hunter, five miles west of Amsterdam, off Route 5S.

The larger of the two exhibits is entitled “Celebrate 300: Centuries of Fort Hunter History and New Discoveries.” It addresses the 300th anniversary of Fort Hunter and the Queen Anne Chapel, its rich history and recent archaeological discoveries. Fort Hunter, built in 1712, was a British frontier fort; 150 square feet with four corner blockhouses.

Queen Anne’s Chapel served as the center of Christian spiritual life for the settlers of European decent in the area and the surround 600-person Mohawk Village of Tiononderoge.

The other smaller exhibit will show photos of the recent Hurricane Irene flood damage and the recovery effort at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site.

For more information about Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, call the Visitor Center at (518) 829-7516. You can also find them on Facebook.  

Photo: Normally high and dry, Putmans Store (and the adjacent Enlarged Erie Lock 28) at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site filled with water on August 29, 2011. Photo by Howard Ohlhous, Courtesy National Park Service.

A NY Classic: Drums Along the Mohawk


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After its first publication in 1936, Walter D. Edmonds’ classic historical novel Drums Along the Mohawk battled Gone With the Wind as the most popular historical novel of the ensuing years, and became a feature film in 1939 directed by John Ford, and starring Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda.

A New York Times review by Frank Nugent celebrated the film. “It is romantic enough for any adventure-story lover,” Nugent wrote. “It has its humor, its sentiment, its full complement of blood and thunder. About the only [John] Ford staple we miss is a fog scene. Rain, gun smoke and stockade burnings have had to compensate. The fusion of them all has made a first-rate historical film, as rich atmospherically as it is in action.” Those laudatory comments still suit the original novel just as well, but for those with an interest in the history of the Mohawk Valley, there’s more than just a good story.

Edmonds was born in 1903 in Boonville (Oneida County) and died in 1998. Edmonds was troubled by the presentation of the history of the American Revolution and used local primary sources to create life on the Revolution’s frontier. “Edmonds turned to ‘Working with the sources’,” Frank Bergman wrote when Syracuse University Press took over publication of the novel in 1997. “His knowledge of the facts enabled Edmonds to dye his narrative in the wool; his history is color-fast and guaranteed not to fade… His goal was not to establish ‘how it actually was,’ but to allow his readers to experience the past as if it were the present.”

“To those readers who may have felt some curiosity about the actual occurrences in the Mohawk Valley during the Revolution,” Edmonds wrote in the book’s “Author’s Note”, I should like to say here that I have been as faithful to the scene and time and place as study and affection could help me to be.” Edmond’s sources were varied, but he himself points to the importance of the Minute Book of the Committee of Safety of Tryon County “to understand what valley life was really like”.

This summer readers will have a taste of that life at an outdoor drama based on Drums Along the Mohawk that coincides with the British Brigade and Continental Line’s national Revolutionary War encampment at Gelston Castle Estate in Mohawk, NY. About 1,000 reenactors are expected to take part in honor of the 235th anniversary of the Battle of Oriskany.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

CFP: 12th Mohican / Algonquian People’s Seminar


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum are inviting papers or other presentation to be given at the 12th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar held at the NYS Museum in Albany on September 15, 2012. Topics can be any aspect of Northeastern Native American culture from prehistory to present. Presentations are allotted 20 minutes speaking time.

Interested parties are encouraged to submit a one page abstract that includes a brief biographical sketch and notes any special scheduling and/or equipment needs. For presentations other than traditional papers, please describe content and media that will be used to make the presentation. Deadline for abstract submission is June 1, 2012.

 
The Selection Committee, made up of Board members, will notify presenters no later than June 10, 2012. The final paper should meet common publication standards. The paper should be foot noted “author-date” style; sources are cited in the text in parentheses by author’s last name and date, with a reference to a list of books or sources at the end of the paper. Also, a disc containing the article, bibliography, illustrations (referred to as figure 1, figure 2 etc.) and captions for the illustrations should be submitted to the Board at the Seminar.

Send abstracts to:

Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley (NAIHRV)
c/o Mariann Mantzouris
223 Elliot Rd.
East Greenbush, NY 12061
Email : marimantz@aol.com
Telephone: 518-369-8116

Iroquois Indian Museum Prepares Opening, Events


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The Iroquois Indian Museum opens for its 2012 season on May 1 with a new exhibit and special events planned throughout the year. From May 1 until the closing day on November 30, the Museum hosts the exhibition, “Birds and Beasts in Beads: 150 Years of Iroquois Beadwork.” The exhibit features more than 200 beaded objects, largely from the collection of retired archeologist and Museum trustee, Dolores Elliott. Continue reading