The Allegany Senecas and Kinzua Dam: Forced Relocation through Two Generations

Overview


In the late 1950s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its intention to construct a dam along the Allegheny River in Warren, Pennsylvania. The building of the Kinzua Dam was highly controversial because it flooded one-third of the Allegany Reservation of the Seneca Nation of Indians. Nearly six hundred Senecas were forced to abandon their homes and relocate, despite a 1794 treaty that had guaranteed them those lands in perpetuity.

In this revealing study, Joy A. ...

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Overview


In the late 1950s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its intention to construct a dam along the Allegheny River in Warren, Pennsylvania. The building of the Kinzua Dam was highly controversial because it flooded one-third of the Allegany Reservation of the Seneca Nation of Indians. Nearly six hundred Senecas were forced to abandon their homes and relocate, despite a 1794 treaty that had guaranteed them those lands in perpetuity.

In this revealing study, Joy A. Bilharz examines the short- and long-term consequences of the relocation of the Senecas. Granted unparalleled access to members of the Seneca Nation and reservation records, Bilharz traces the psychological, economic, cultural, and social effects over two generations. The loss of homes and tribal lands was heart wrenching and initially threatened to undermine the foundations of social life and subsistence economy for the Senecas. Over time, however, many Senecas have managed to adapt successfully to relocation, creating new social networks, invigorating their educational system, and becoming more politically involved on local, tribal, and national levels.

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Editorial Reviews

American Indian Quarterly
"[Bilharz's] treatment of the historical events leading up to the construction of Kinzua Dam and the Senecas' efforts to forestall removal is excellent, and the often mixed responses of the Indian relocatees demonstrates the diversity of Seneca experiences. . . . The work is well researched and provides important insights into the Indians' perspective on removal. . . . The study serves as an important reminder that Native Americans of the mid-twentieth century were not immune from government capriciousness, and that the Senecas in particular—though numerically weak—remain an amazingly adaptive and resilient people."—American Indian Quarterly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803262034
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2002
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Joy A. Bilharz is associate professor of anthropology at the State University of New York College at Fredonia.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Learning from the Senecas
1 The Allegany Senecas 1
2 Involuntary Relocations: An Overview 24
3 Building Kinzua Dam: Broken Treaties 48
4 The "New Places": Broken Hearts 74
5 Making It in the Great Society 87
6 The 1980s: Rebellion and Reassessment 111
7 The Legacies of Kinzua Dam 128
Conclusion 140
Bibliography 157
Index 183
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