The National Park Service will host the Seneca Nation of Indians during a weekend of cultural heritage programs at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Pennsylvania on Saturday and Sunday, June 28 and 29. The delegation of the Seneca Nation of Indians, including the nation's Chief of Staff, Maurice John, will be officially received and welcomed at a ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum staff will offer cultural presentations throughout the weekend. Each day will begin with an opening ceremony, or Ganönyogk, at 9:30 a.m. There will be traditional dance performances by the Allegany River Dancers each day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Allegany River Dancers have performed extensively throughout North America and Europe.
Park Superintendent Jeff Reinbold invites visitors to come and learn about Seneca heritage and their contributions to our national culture.
"The event and exhibit represent wider tribal involvement, in the French and Indian War. By including the Seneca and the Iroquois Confederacy, we start to get a fuller picture of the scope and importance of what was started here at Fort Necessity," he said in a release.
Dr. Randy John will present the "Role of the Seneca in the French and Indian War" at 11 a.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. John is an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Turtle Clan. He is the director of the Language Department at the Seneca Nation of Indians. He is a former associate professor of sociology at St. Bonaventure University and a published author.
Rich Hamell, a recognized wampum expert, will present "Wampum is more than a Word" at 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. Hamell has reproduced an extensive collection of wampum belts. Many of his belts will be on display throughout the weekend providing excellent examples of wampum iconography.
Pre-eminent French and Indian War Artist, Robert Griffing will also display his art for the weekend. Griffing is well known and respected not only for the beauty of his paintings, but for the research he does into the stories they represent. Many of his works feature Seneca people. Griffing will be on hand to discuss his art and his paintings will be displayed in the Visitor Center.
Cultural demonstrations will include living history presentations in the area of Fort Necessity. Members of the Seneca Nation of Indians will portray both historic men's and women's roles. Native games and traditional crafts like hoop and dart, lacrosse, basket making, cornhusk doll making, and bead working will be ongoing throughout the park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can also tour a new temporary exhibit entitled: The Seneca and the French and Indian War, a special exhibit created by the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum.
There are no additional fees for presentations and demonstrations. Visitors must pay the regular park entrance fee of $5 for adults. Children 15 and under are admitted free. Free parking is available on-site. A shuttle will be provided from more remote parking spots. Visitors are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes before the first program they wish to see. Staff recommends visitors wear good walking shoes. Folding chairs or blankets may be brought into the park for more comfortable viewing. There will be no rain date in case of inclement weather
The Seneca Cultural Heritage Weekend is part of partnership between the National Park Service and the Seneca Nation of Indians, a federally recognized tribe. The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum is a not-for-profit organization chartered by New York State's Department of Education. It is located in Salamanca, New York. While the Seneca-Iroquois culture is centered in New York, their influence was widespread. Seneca emissaries to the Ohio River Valley played important roles in the political and military events leading up to the battle of Fort Necessity and throughout the French and Indian War.
Fort Necessity's partnership with the Seneca Nation of Indians is a part of the park's plan to conduct a series of special programs highlighting the role of American Indians involvement in the French and Indian War. In 2010 the Park worked in cooperation with the Little Traverse Bay Band of the Odawa, and in 2012 partnered with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.
In addition to the special programs described park visitors will also be able to tour the Mount Washington Tavern. Park staff portraying French and Indian War soldiers will be stationed at Fort Necessity. For more information and directions call 724-329-5811 or visit www.nps.gov/fone and www.senecamuseum.org.