Seneca Nation President Porter Featured on All Things Considered Today

Here.  The audio is available after 7pm today.

“The difference today, unlike in times past, is that we are often dictating the terms and we are no longer being at the short end of someone else’s decision.”

– Robert Odawi Porter, president of the Seneca Nation

Sixty years ago, the road meandered past thriving communities, with Seneca homes along the Alleghany River, hunting and fishing grounds, cemeteries, churches, schools.

But in the 1960s, the U.S. government decided it needed the land to control flooding downriver in Pittsburgh. The Army Corps of Engineers condemned the villages, burnt down the houses and schools and churches, and built the Kinzua hydropower dam. The Senecas had fought the plan in Washington for almost two decades.

“They had been burning other people’s homes, but our home — my father burned it,” says Steve Gordon, who was 12 at the time. He says his father wouldn’t let the federal government set his house afire. “So my dad loaded us all up in his vehicle and took us down there and we watched it burn to the ground, cause if anybody’s going to burn our house, it’ll be us,” Gordon says.

Porter was 2 years old when Kinzua was built. He says he grew up like all Senecas at the time.

“No one had any money growing up,” he says. “I mean, this was on the heels of the Kinzua era. No real jobs. The Nation government had no economic presence.”

Video Links to 4th Annual Haudenosaunee Conference

Links to the videos of the 4th Annual Haudenosaunee Conference, “Conflict, Colonization, and Co-Existence: The Haudenosaunee and New York State” are here.

Speakers included Oren Lyons, Maurice John, Laurence Hauptman, and Rob Porter.