As a “non-essential” and semi-retired 70-year-old, I’m self-isolating these days at my 110-year-old home in South Buffalo, around the corner from Indian Church Road. I’ve lived here for nearly five years on a one-tenth acre plot of land that was, until the so-called Treaty of 1842, part of the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Buffalo Creek Reservation.
1979 Map of reservation land
From Abstract of Title for 17 Oschawa Ave., Buffalo, NY
While the circumstances that brought me to Oschawa Avenue were not joyful, there’s been an unexpected silver lining. I’ve taken small steps to learn about the culture and history of the indigenous peoples who lived throughout this region long before the Europeans arrived on the shores of what is now called North America. As part of that nascent process, I drove to Salamanca, New York on August 4, 2018, to attend the festive grand opening of the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum. [If interested in my posting regarding that visit, click here.]
Wanting the opportunity to experience this living, breathing cultural center – located at 82 W. Hetzel Street, Salamanca, NY 14779 – on a quiet day, I returned to the museum on a weekday afternoon this past September. I’d like to share with you images from that excursion to help you past the time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, of equal importance, to motivate as many of you as possible to travel to Salamanca – once we’re liberated from our crucial self-isolation – to thoroughly explore the history and culture of the Keepers of the Western Door, the People of the Great Hill. What follows will merely skim the surface.
This tour starts with several images (by Bill Crouse, Seneca Nation, Hawk Clan) from the museum’s exhibit, “Ganö:nyök” (Giving Thanks for Everything), with occasional text to help one better understand the symbols. [For the entire “Thanksgiving Address,” please peruse “Ganö:nyök – Thanksgiving Address” , with words by Sandra Jimerson-Dowdy and illustrations by her son, the afore-mentioned Bill Crouse.]
The cultural center has a plethora of Seneca-Iroquois crafts and artistry on display. Here’s a sampling:
Not surprisingly, the walls overflow with information on the significant role of creation myths, clans, and both historical and contemporary figures and events (uplifting and heartbreaking).
The 8 Seneca Clans:
MARY JEMISON [who was once buried on sacred land in what is now called the Seneca Indian Park on Buffum Street, a block-and-a-half from my South Buffalo home]:
The KINZUA DAMN Travesty (excerpts):
With the positive expression, “Continuing To Be,” I’ll bring my amateurish-but-heartfelt tour to an end, hoping that it has whetted your appetite for the full experience at the Salamanca, NY museum and cultural center.
With All Due Respect,