Seneca Nation celebrating purchase of ancestral land in Genesee Valley

ALLEGANY TERRITORY, SALAMANCA, N.Y. – The Seneca Nation is celebrating the return of ancestral land to Nation ownership.

The Nation announced Friday, Dec., 30 it had completed the purchase of 1.8 acres of land at 4572 Caledonia Avon Road, in the Town of Caledonia within the boundaries of the Canawaugus Reserveration.

The parcel is located at the junction of Route 5 and Route 20. In a statement the Seneca Nation said the purchase “marks the Nation’s first step in an effort to return to the Genesee Valley region.”

The lands are believed to have been the home area of historic Seneca leaders including Cornplanter, Handsome Lake and and Guyasuta.

Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr.

“Canawaugus is part of our history and we are thrilled to reacquire a portion of the land that was taken from our ancestors,” said Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. “Our people have a connection to our land and to the Genesee Valley that spans generations.”

The Canawaugus Reservation is one of 11 Seneca reservations confirmed in the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree. Canawaugus, which means “smelly waters” in the Seneca language, was a town settlement area. It was, at one time, home to many Seneca leaders, including Cornplanter, Handsome Lake, and Guyasuta, among others. It is believed that burial grounds and other culturally sensitive sites exist within the reservation’s boundaries.

Canawaugus was purportedly sold to the Ogden Land Company in a later treaty in 1826, but that treaty was never ratified by the United States Senate, as required by federal law, meaning that the reservation was never lawfully disestablished.

“Even though our treaties preserved our presence in Western New York, they were often predicated on the loss of our land,” President Armstrong said. “In regard to Canawaugus, these lands were stolen from us, but they have always remained Seneca lands. Now, they will rightfully and forever be recognized as ours. We look forward to working with our neighbors throughout the Genesee Valley as we return to Canawaugus and prepare for its future.”


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