Tag Archives: Native American History

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

The Interpreter: A Story of Two Worlds


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When it was first published The Interpreter: A Story of Two Worlds (SUNY Press, 1997) was called, “a vibrant tale of courage and adventure” by Booklist and, “rich in historical detail and meticulously researched” by Publishers Weekly. Written by Robert Moss, the book is the third in the Cycle of the Iroquois trilogy and will become the final book to be available in paperback from SUNY Press.

The book is a journey into the crucible in which America was born and a tale of love and war that shares the story of a master shaman and his twin apprentices — the Mohawk dreamer called Island Woman and the young immigrant Conrad Weise – who become critical players in their peoples’ struggle for survival.

Moss, a novelist, journalist, historian, and lifelong dream explorer, describes in his new preface how his Cycle of the Iroquois — Fire Along the Sky, The Firekeeper, and The Interpreter — began with dreams and visions in which an ancient Iroquois arendiwanen (woman of power) insisted on teaching him in her own language, until he was obliged to learn it.

The Interpreter is available from SUNY Press. You can order all three books in the trilogy by visiting www.sunypress.edu.

Moss will be speaking and signing copies of the work at Mabee Farm Historic Site (http://www.schist.org/mabee.htm) on March 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm. Admission is $5 or free for members of the Schenectady County Historical Society.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.

Battle of Oriskany Recreation Planned For August


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To commemorate the 235th Anniversary of the Battle of Oriskany in the American War for Independence, the Continental Line and British Brigade Revolutionary War re-enactors, will depict the various New York battles of 1777 on the weekend of August 4 – 5, 2012 at Gelston Castle in Mohawk, NY. Participants can witness the local militia company from Mohawk Valley confronting the King’s Regulars, Loyalist, and Native Americans, in the re-enactment of the “Battle of Oriskany”. The “Battle of Oriskany” is one of a series of event that will be recreated August 4 and 5, 2012 at Gelston Castle, just 15 minutes south of the towns of Herkimer and Mohawk, NY.

“This is a great opportunity to witness our common heritage as Americans” says Mitch Lee, event organizer and Commander of the 1st New York Regiment. “Spectators can arrive on Saturday, August 4 at 10 am to view living history demonstrations and battles from the 1777 New York campaign.” “The site will have 1,500 reenactors and trades people representing the military culture of the American Revolution,” explains Lee. ”There will be lectures, demonstrations and activities though out the weekend and on Saturday night there will the premiere of a pageant play called ‘Drums along the Mohawk’,” added Lee.

This event has been made possible by private funding from many Mohawk Valley businesses and the Safflyn Corporation. Lee points out in a time when historic sites are understaffed and under funded, volunteer units who recreate the American Revolution are still moving forward with plans to commemorate special dates and places in New York history.

For more information visit oriskany235th.org.

Iroquois Beadwork at the ‘Art of Flowering’ Talk


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The Adirondack Museum’s fifth 2012 Cabin Fever Sunday series program, “Inventing Fashion: Iroquois Beadwork at the ‘Art of Flowering'” will be held on Sunday, March 18, 2012. The event will be offered free of charge.

In the mid-19th century, New York State officials began to collect Iroquois material culture, intending to preserve remnants of what they saw as a vanishing race. At the same time, Iroquois women were discovering that their beadwork was appealing to the fashionable Victorian women flocking to Niagara Falls and Saratoga Springs on the Grand Tour of America.

This multimedia presentation by Dr. Deborah Holler traces the historic development of Iroquois beadwork and costume, which came to define the public image of “Indian-ness” around the world. Images are drawn from the collections of the Lewis Henry Morgan and Rochester museums, as well as private collections. These images also illuminate the contributions of the Iroquois to the textile arts, as well as the complex cultural exchange that defined the fashions of 19th century New York State.

Dr. Deborah Holler is a Lecturer and Mentor at Empire State College and teaches in Cultural Studies, Literature and the Arts. Her articles and creative writing have been published in regional and national magazines as well as academic journals. She has presented her lectures at national and international conferences, historical societies, and cultural events throughout New York State and is currently working on projects concerning the life and times of 19th century Seneca Caroline G. Parker Mountpleasant.

This program will be held at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts at Blue Mountain Lake, and will begin at 1:30 p.m. For additional information, call (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Photo: Pincushion, typical of souvenir made for tourists by Eastern woodland Indians. From the collection of the Adirondack Museum.

NYS Museum Research in Archaeology Lectures


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Research findings on a 200-300-year-old skull found in a wall in Coeymans – the subject of recent news accounts – will be one of the topics discussed during a series of lectures on “Research in Archaeology” at the New York State Museum. The lectures will be held Wednesday through March 28 at 12:10 p.m. in the Huxley Theater. Lecture topics and dates are:

● March 14 – “Learning from Pottery.” Broken pieces of pottery, or sherds, are one of the most common artifacts recovered from archaeological sites younger than 3,000 years old. Dr. John P. Hart, director of the State Museum’s Research & Collections division, will
discuss recently completed research on sherds that provides information on how Native Americans interacted across what is now New York state.

● March 21 – “The Skull in the Wall: The Case of the Coeymans Lady.” The discovery of a human skull during repairs to the stone foundation at the historic Coeymans House in southern Albany County raised many questions about the person’s identity and manner of death.
Lisa Anderson, curator of bioarchaeology, will take a closer look at the skeletal evidence and historical context of the case.

● March 28 – “Cache and Carry: New Insights on Ice Age Technology of New York Paleoindians.” New York’s first people colonized the state at the end of the Ice Age. Ranging widely across New York and beyond, many have wondered how these hunter gatherers
created a portable stone technology compatible with their mobile way of life. Dr. Jonathan Lothrop, curator of archaeology, describes new insights from the study of a Paleoindian stone tool cache discovered in the upper Susquehanna Valley.

Founded in 1836, the State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New
Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: Coeymans House from LOC Historic American Building Survey Digital Collection.

The Battle on Snowshoes Event at Fort Ticonderoga


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A living history event at Fort Ticonderoga highlighting Major Robert Rogers and the Battle of Snowshoes will be held on Saturday, March 10 from 10 am – 4 pm. Visitors will be able to encounter the French Garrison in the middle of winter inside Fort Ticonderoga and tour through opposing pickets of British rangers and French soldiers adapted to frontier, winter warfare. At 1 pm on Saturday, visitors will experience the hectic tree to tree fighting in a recreated battle during which the rangers make a stand against superior numbers, only to retreat through the deep woods.

Visitors will be invited to tour Fort Ticonderoga as it appeared in the winter of 1758, meet the French and Indians who overwhelmed Roger’s experienced woodsmen, and see how native and French soldiers survived the deep winter at this remote military post. More adventurous visitors can take a hike led by a historic interpreter through the opposed pickets of soldiers in the deep woods. In these tours visitors can see how rangers kept a vigilant watch for subtle signs that might reveal their ferocious enemy.

“The Battle on Snowshoes event recreates the savage fight between Robert Roger’s rangers, and a mixed French force of regular soldiers, milice, and allied native warriors on March 13, 1758,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation at Fort Ticonderoga. “This event is designed to be a rich experience for both participants and visitors alike.”

Re-enactors portraying French soldiers and native allies will live inside the period furnished barracks rooms of Fort Ticonderoga. They will recreate the winter garrison for Fort Carillon, as it was known until 1759. Just as in the March of 1758 these re-enactors will sortie out from the Fort to meet and overwhelm Roger’s men.

Major Robert Rogers force of both volunteers from the 27th foot, and his own rangers headed out on an extended scout from Fort Edward along Lake George, following an attack on a similar patrol from Captain Israel Putnam’s Connecticut rangers. Hiking on snowshoes due to the three feet of snow, the tracks of Roger’s force were spotted on its march up the west side of Lake George. Near the north end of Lake George, Major Rogers, advanced scouts spotted their French counterparts. Rogers and his Rangers took up positions in a ravine, setting his force in ambuscade to await whatever French patrol would come to meet him.

The French patrol that met Roger’s men proved far larger than he imagined, and in this Battle on Snowshoes, the rangers’ ambush was itself surrounded and overwhelmed. In deep woods on deep snow, the rangers were forced to retreat with heavy casualties as the French regulars, malice, and natives pressed home their attack. Despite stands along the way, this retreat quickly became chaotic as rangers, Roger’s included, ran for their lives from superior numbers of French.

Illustration from Gary S Zaboly‘s “A True Ranger: The Life and Many Wars of Major Robert Rogers” (Garden City Park, NY: Royal Blockhouse, 2004).

America’s Invasion of Canada: The War of 1812


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Although it has taken a backseat to the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and has been largely forgotten outside the areas it was fought, this year marks the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. In the reissued The American Invasion of Canada: The War of 1812’s First Year (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012), Pierre Berton transforms history into an engrossing narrative that reads like a fast-paced novel.

To America’s leaders in 1812, an invasion of Canada seemed to be “a mere matter of marching,” as Thomas Jefferson confidently predicted. How could a nation of eight million Americans fail to subdue a struggling British colony of 300,000 already enmeshed in a life and death struggle with the armies (and navies) of Napoleon? Continue reading

Lake Champlain Indigenous Heritage Center Event


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The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) will be hosting Dr. Fred Wiseman, Chairperson, Department of Humanities, Johnson State College for a presentation titled Lake Champlain Indigenous Heritage Center: A Future Possibility tomorrow, Thursday, February 23rd at 6:30 p.m. in the LCBP office in Grand Isle, Vermont. This program is part of the LCBP’s Love the Lake speaker series. Continue reading

Books: The Unkechaug of Eastern Long Island


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Few people may realize that Long Island is still home to American Indians, the region’s original inhabitants. One of the oldest reservations in the United States—the Poospatuck Reservation—is located in Suffolk County, the densely populated eastern extreme of the greater New York area. The Unkechaug Indians, known also by the name of their reservation, are recognized by the State of New York but not by the federal government. A new narrative account by John A. Strong, a noted authority on the Algonquin peoples of Long Island, has been published as The Unkechaug Indians of Eastern Long Island: A History (Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2011). The book is the first comprehensive history of the Unkechaug Indians.

Drawing on archaeological and documentary sources, Strong traces the story of the Unkechaugs from their ancestral past, predating the arrival of Europeans, to the present day.

Although granted a large reservation in perpetuity, the Unkechaugs were, like many Indian tribes, the victims of broken promises, and their landholdings diminished from several thousand acres to fifty-five. Despite their losses, the Unkechaugs have persisted in maintaining their cultural traditions and autonomy by taking measures to boost their economy, preserve their language, strengthen their communal bonds, and defend themselves against legal challenges.

In early histories of Long Island, the Unkechaugs figured only as a colorful backdrop to celebratory stories of British settlement. Strong’s account, which includes extensive testimony from tribal members themselves, brings the Unkechaugs out of the shadows of history and establishes a permanent record of their struggle to survive as a distinct community.

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

New Book: The Race to the New World


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Doug Hunter’s just released The Race to the New World: Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and the Lost History of Discovery (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), offers a new angle to the ubiquitous story of Columbus’ voyage; how John Cabot became his true rival in this search for the West Indies.

The final decade of the fifteenth century the Genoese mariner Christopher Columbus sailed westward on the Atlantic Ocean, famously determined to discover for Spain a shorter and more direct route to the riches of the Indies. Meanwhile, a fellow Italian explorer for hire, John Cabot, set off on his own journey, under England’s flag.

In Race to the New World Hunter tells the fascinating tale of how, during his expedition, Columbus gained a rival. In the space of a few critical years, these two men engaged in a high-stakes race that threatened the precarious diplomatic balance of Europe-to exploit what they believed was a shortcut to staggering wealth. Instead, they found a New World that neither was looking for.

Hunter provides a revealing look at how the lives of Columbus and Cabot were interconnected, and how neither explorer should be understood without understanding both. Together, Cabot and Columbus provide a novel and important perspective on the first years of European experience of the New World.

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

Iroquois Museum Cuts Staff, Closes Until Spring


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The Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, NY has announced significant staff cutbacks for 2012. “Severe economic downturns coupled with the recent devastating flooding in Schoharie County have forced the Museum to suspend most Museum operations from January 1 to April 30 and to layoff staff during those months,” Museum officials said in a prepared statement issued Wednesday. Continue reading

Thacher Park, Indian Ladder Slideshow Sunday


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Local historian Timothy J. Albright along with land conservationist Laura A. Ten Eyck will offer a slide presentation and talk entitled “John Boyd Thacher State Park and the Indian Ladder Reserve” at the Albany Institute on Sunday, November 20 at 2 PM.

Albright and Ten Eyck will discuss the history of the wilderness that became this region’s beloved Thacher State Park. They will present many rare and unusual photographs of the land traversed by Native Americans, transformed by hardworking colonial farmers, and visited by 19th century travelers and tourists. Caves, cliffs, and legends are all part of the fascinating story.

Following the presentation, Albright and Ten Eyck will be available to answer questions and sign copies of their recently published book, John Boyd Thacher State Park and the Indian Ladder Reserve . The book is available for sale in the Albany Institute Museum Shop. This event is FREE with museum admission.

Photo: Mine Lot Falls at John Boyd Thacher State. Courtesy DEC.

Four Indian Kings Lecture in Albany Thursday


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On Thursday, November 17, the State University of New York Press will present the Third Annual John G. Neihardt Lecture, featuring a talk by renowned novelist, historian, and lifelong dream explorer Robert Moss. Co-sponsored by the Albany Institute of History & Art, the event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Albany Institute, located at 125 Washington Avenue in downtown Albany. The program will begin at 4:00 pm and a reception will follow the lecture.

Moss will begin his lecture, “Four Indian Kings, Dream Archaeology, and the Iroquois Struggle for Survival on the New York Frontier,” with a bit of entertainment by following the adventures of Four Indian Kings at the court of Queen Anne in 1710 as they are taken to see Macbeth and to a horrible scene of bear-baiting. He will then discuss his own development of a discipline he calls dream archaeology which involves reclaiming authentic knowledge of ancestral traditions through a combination of careful research, active dreamwork, and shamanic journeying across time and between dimensions. He will end his lecture by delving into the Iroquois struggle for survival before the American Revolution.

Born in Australia, Robert Moss is the bestselling author of nine novels, including his Cycle of the Iroquois (Fire Along the Sky, The Firekeeper, and The Interpreter) and nine nonfiction books on dreaming, shamanism, and imagination, including Conscious Dreaming, Dreamways of the Iroquois, and The Secret History of Dreaming. A former lecturer in ancient history at the Australian National University, magazine editor and foreign correspondent, he spent seven years researching the background to his Cycle of the Iroquois, walking the battlefields of the French and Indian War, studying the languages, traditions, and spiritual practices of the Iroquois and their neighbors, and mining documentary sources. He gives lectures and seminars all over the world. Moss lives in upstate New York.

John G. Neihardt (1881-1973) was the celebrated author of many books of poetry, fiction, and philosophy. His work includes The River and I; Man-Song; and the legendary Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux all of which are available from SUNY Press. The John G. Neihardt Lecture was established by Coralie Hughes, Neihardt’s granddaughter, in honor of his legacy.

For more information on SUNY Press and the Neihart Lecture can be found online.

Photo: Hendrick Tejonihokarawa, one of the “Four Indian Kings” who traveled to London in 1710. The print, by John Verelst, is entitled “Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Row, Emperor of the Six Nations.” The title “Emperor” was a bit of a stretch, he belonged to the council of the Mohawk tribe, but not to that of the Iroquois Confederacy as a whole.

First Manhattans: The Indians of Greater New York


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The Indian sale of Manhattan is one of the world’s most cherished legends. Few people know that the Indians who made the fabled sale were Munsees whose ancestral homeland lay between the lower Hudson and upper Delaware river valleys. The story of the Munsee people has long lain unnoticed in broader histories of the Delaware Nation.

First Manhattans, a concise distillation of the author’s more comprehensive The Munsee Indians, resurrects the lost history of this forgotten people, from their earliest contacts with Europeans to their final expulsion just before the American Revolution.

Anthropologist Robert S. Grumet rescues from obscurity Mattano, Tackapousha, Mamanuchqua, and other Munsee sachems whose influence on Dutch and British settlers helped shape the course of early American history in the mid-Atlantic heartland. He looks past the legendary sale of Manhattan to show for the first time how Munsee leaders forestalled land-hungry colonists by selling small tracts whose vaguely worded and bounded titles kept courts busy—and settlers out—for more than 150 years.

Ravaged by disease and war, the Munsees finally emigrated to reservations in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Ontario, where most of their descendants still live today. This book shows how Indians and settlers struggled, through land deals and other transactions, to reconcile cultural ideals with political realities. It offers a wide audience access to the most authoritative treatment of the Munsee experience—one that restores this people to their place in history.

Robert S. Grumet, anthropologist and retired National Park Service archeologist, is a Senior Research Associate with the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His numerous publications include The Lenapes and The Munsee Indians: A History.

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

Atlatl Championship at Mount Independence


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Journey way back to the ancient past, before the invention of the bow and arrow, to experience how people the world over hunted big game by coming to the 16th Annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship September 17 and 18, 2011, beginning at 10:30 AM on Saturday and 10:00 on Sunday, at the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell, Vermont.

The competition is based on the ancient hunting technique of using an atlatl (spear thrower). Atlatlists of all skill levels are welcome. Demonstrations of flint knapping, bow making, hafting stone points, fletching atlatl darts, cordage making with natural materials, and other aspects of Native American life will take place on Saturday. Food will be available. Continue reading

Mohawk Valley: 2011 Western Frontier Symposium


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The 2011 Western Frontier Symposium: Frontier Style Culture at the Edge of Empire Mohawk Valley, NY: 1700-1800 will be held October 15-16, 2011 at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, New York.

The fourth biennial Western Frontier Symposium continues to explore the history of the Mohawk Valley in the century when the region was the western edge of colonial New York and a crossroads of French, Dutch, British and Native American empires.

Far from European centers of fashion, Mohawk Valley residents expressed their sense of style with strategic design choices from multiple cultures. Distinct regional variations in their clothing, architecture and interior designs reveal their values and their aspirations. Participating experts in 18th century design and regional cultures include Phillip Otterness, David Preston, Timothy Shannon, George Hamell, Mark Hutter, Robert Trent, Mary Elise Antoine and others.

There will be a companion exhibit, “Frontier Style: The Height of Fashion at the Edge of Empire Mohawk Valley NY 1700-1800” at Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s Perella Gallery from October 14 through December 9, 2011. The exhibit will be an exhibition of 18th century Mohawk Valley fashion and home decor, featuring clothing reproduced for New York State Historic Sites collections.

This event is sponsored by Mohawk Valley Historic Sites, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Costume Society of America.

More information about the symposium can be found online.

A Teacher Open House at the Gage Center


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The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, NY would like to share with teachers the opportunity to learn more about Matilda Joslyn Gage, an important local historical figure on Thursday, September 22, 3:30-5:30 pm.

Matilda Joslyn Gage (1824-1898) was involved in the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad. Along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gage was a major figure in the Women’s Rights Movement. With them, she co-authored The History of Woman Suffrage.

She was a supporter of Native American sovereignty and a proponent of the total separation of Church and State, she was the author of Woman, Church and State.

Because of her strong, liberal position on religious freedom, she was written out of history books until recently.

Gage’s ideas are as relevant today as they were in the 19th century and this is a great way to bring Central New York history into your classroom and promote discussion of the past and contemporary issues.

Materials for lessons, activities, and curriculum packets available.

For more information, call 637-9511.