"Ties together over thirty years of research that includes extensive interviews with Seneca citizens and politicians. . . .Well written, with insights gleaned from dozens of interviews, the book will appeal to scholars and students of modern Iroquois and American Indian politics. The book naturally focuses on the Seneca nation, but the story could have flowed outward to reflect on how the building of the dam influenced a generation of young American Indian activists beyond the Seneca."—Journal of American History
"The author’s narrative is enhanced by his forty years of experience as scholar and participant. Two themes dominate: the ‘diversity of existence’ that characterizes Seneca adaptability and the perfidiousness of American disregard."—Choice
"A highly detailed and eyewitness history of the threats to the Seneca nation in the late-twentieth century from development in the form of dam and road projects as well as assaults on tribal sovereignty over taxes and casinos. This history is an essential context for any anthropological analyses of Seneca culture today and suggests the importance of intimate historical knowledge for doing quality anthropology work in the present."—Anthropology Review Database
"Hauptman chronicles the nation's recovery from the nadir of the 1960's to becoming a major economic force in Western New York in the 2010s."—The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
The Kinzua Dam has cast a long shadow on Seneca life since World War II. The project, formally dedicated in 1966, broke the Treaty of Canandaigua of 1794, flooded approximately 10,000 acres of Seneca lands in New York and Pennsylvania, and forced the relocation of hundreds of tribal members. Hauptman offers both a policy study, detailing how and why Washington, Harrisburg, and Albany came up with the idea to build the dam, and a community study of the Seneca Nation in the postwar era. Although the dam was presented to the Senecas as a flood control project, Hauptman persuasively argues that the primary reasons were the push for private hydroelectric development in Pennsylvania and state transportation and park development in New York.
This important investigation, based on forty years of archival research as well as on numerous interviews with Senecas, shows that these historically resilient Native peoples adapted in the face of this disaster. Unlike previous studies, In the Shadow of Kinzua highlights the federated nature of Seneca Nation government, one held together in spite of great diversity of opinions and intense politics. In the Kinzua crisis and its aftermath, several Senecas stood out for their heroism and devotion to rebuilding their nation for tribal survival. They left legacies in many areas, including two community centers, a modern health delivery system, two libraries, and a museum. Money allocated in a “compensation bill” passed by Congress in 1964 produced a generation of college-educated Senecas, some of whom now work in tribal government, making major contributions to the Nation’s present and future. Facing impossible odds and hidden forces, they motivated a cadre of volunteers to help rebuild devastated lands. Although their strategies did not stop the dam’s construction, they laid the groundwork for a tribal governing structure and for managing other issues that followed from the 1980s to the present, including land claims litigation and casinos.
Laurence M. Hauptman is SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History. He is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of numerous books on the Iroquois, including Seven Generations of Iroquois Leadership: The Six Nations since 1800, which was awarded the 2012 Herbert Lehman Book prize from the New York Academy of History.
6 x 9, 456 pages, 39 black and white illustrations, 6 maps