A Broken Promise by Todd Schoonover
In 1965 the United States Army Corps of Engineers completed Kinzua Dam. Its rising water inundated all of the habitable land of Cornplanter’s Grant along with 10,000 acres of the Seneca’s Allegany Reservation in New York.
Cornplanter’s descendants and the Allegany Seneca fought to halt the construction of the dam. They cited the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794, the oldest active treaty in the United States. This agreement, signed by both George Washington’s representative and Cornplanter, guaranteed that the United States would never take the Seneca’s land. This agreement states:
“Now the United States acknowledges all the land within the aforementioned boundaries, to be the property of the Seneca Nation, and the United States will never claim the same, nor disturb the Seneca Nation.”
The United States confiscated the Seneca’s land by the right of eminent domain. Two hundred and thirty descendants of Chief Cornplanter lost their homeland in 1964 when the reservoir at Kinzua Dam filled. They lost their 175-year-old ancestral home—their houses, their hunting and fishing grounds, their church, and their school.over 7 years ago