From Seneca to Seneca-Cayuga: Iroquoian Peoples of the Ohio Country
Explore the past and present of two American Indian nations rooted in Western Pennsylvania.
Advance online tickets are no longer available for this event, but can be purchased at the museum today.
From Seneca to Seneca-Cayuga: Iroquoian Peoples of the Ohio Country, a one-day conference at the Fort Pitt Museum, will welcome speakers from federally recognized tribes as they explore the past, present, and future of the Iroquoian peoples who found a second homeland in the Ohio Country.
In the mid-18th century, the upper Ohio Valley was a melting pot for American Indians of many regions. For decades, some western Senecas, part of the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) Confederacy, had drifted down the Ohi:yo’ river, moving further from their fellow nations. Other Iroquoian peoples, including Cayugas, Conestogas, and Mohawks, joined them, seeking autonomy from the larger Confederacy and distance from colonial settlements. They were frequently called Mingo, a term for Iroquoian speakers.
The Iroquoian peoples survived a long and difficult period of removal and continue to preserve their languages, history, and traditions to this day.
The conference will also feature a discussion of the Seneca chief Guyasuta, who worked closely with the larger Confederacy and the Mingo of the Ohio Country in the 18th century. The museum’s new exhibition, Guyasuta: The Life and Legend of a Seneca Chief, will be open for participants to explore.
In addition to the scheduled presentations, a panel discussion with tribal members will address issues of present-day concern to Native communities, such as land acknowledgement and cultural preservation.
9:30 a.m. – Museum opens
10:00 a.m. – Opening remarks, Alan Gutchess, director, Fort Pitt Museum
10:15 a.m. – “A ‘Chief of much Capacity and vast Influence’: Guyasuta’s Mission in the Ohio Country,” Mike Burke, assistant director, Fort Pitt Museum
11:15 a.m. – “History of the Seneca-Cayuga People, 1800 to Present,” Paul Barton
12:15 p.m. – Lunch on your own
1:30 p.m. – “A Brief History of the Seneca People,” Daniel Huff
2:30 p.m. – “The Seneca-Cayuga Nation of Today,” William Tarrant
3:30 p.m. – Break
4:00 p.m. – “Contemporary Issues Affecting American Indian Communities,” a moderated panel discussion with tribal members
5:00 p.m. – Conference ends/ museum closes
William Tarrant is the cultural preservation director for the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. The son of a museum curator and traditional educator, he has had a lifelong interest in history and cultural preservation. In 2008, he was appointed as a pot hanger/faith keeper for the Seneca-Cayuga Nation, one of several tribal members who provide ceremonial and religious leadership for the nation. He also helps to coordinate the yearly Tribal Youth Summer Camp, which educates the nation’s children, ages 9 to 16, on Seneca-Cayuga language, history, beliefs, and traditional practices.
Paul Barton is the tribal historic preservation officer (THPO) and cultural preservation officer for the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, an enrolled citizen of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation, and an adopted Shawnee of the Cherokee Nation. He is active in cultural preservation efforts within the nations and has long been a student of the tribes’ early history. He serves, along with his friend Will Tarrant, as a pot hanger/faith keeper and speaker for the Seneca-Cayuga Nation and lives with his wife Shelba in Wyandotte, Oklahoma.