Creating a digital history site: What I’d like to tell those who come after me.

If I were to give advice to someone creating a digital history site, I’d suggest that they take some time to look at other digital history sites first to see how others have organized and presented their topic. Jack and I learned a lot from giving our peers’ websites feedback, because we noticed elements of others’ websites that were really working, and we tried to take similar elements into our own website.

We also made massive lists throughout the semester with each little thing we needed to tweak or add to our website–and breaking the larger project into extremely small tasks, not only made the whole thing feel more manageable, but also helped keep our motivation up with it, because we could cross a few things off the list even if we could only manage to sit down and work on the project for a few minutes.

I think this was a really rewarding experience, and I feel very comfortable working with WordPress now! I’d tell anyone who came after me that they were going to put a lot of hours into their project between the research and then the actual building of their website, and it will be frustrating at times, but when it starts to come together and look the way you want it to, it will be worth it!

The Treaty of Big Tree

Royce, Charles C, and Cyrus Thomas. Indian land cessions in the United States. 1899. Online Text. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.

The most important treaty in the history of the Geneseo area is the Treaty of Big Tree (1797). This treaty was so important, because it effectively caused the Seneca nation to sign away rights to the land West of the Genesee River to the US Government. However this treaty was signed prior to any survey of the lands, so the treaty was agreed upon through general terms and assumed understandings of natural land boundaries. It was because of these general terms that Mary Jemison was granted a much larger amount of land than any one of the white settlers expected once surveys of the land were actually taken.


Amrhein, Cindy. History of Native American Land Rights in Upstate New York. History Press (US), 2016.

Native Origins Assignment

The Seneca origin story is really interesting, because of the nations included in the Iroquois Confederacy, the Seneca are the only tribe that are said to have come from the earth on which they’ve settled. The myth says that they were “released by the creator from beneath a mountain”(, which is why they’re known as the People of the Great Hill.

While the Seneca has this story about being released from the Earth, they still prescribed to the broader story of Sky Woman falling from the sky world into this world, which at the time, was filled with water. However, they call this woman Eagentci, rather than Sky Woman.



Douglas M. George-kanentiio (1995).Skywoman: Legends of the Iroquois. Clear Light Books


Newspaper Article Assignment

The newspaper article that I found was from 1899 in New York Journal and Advertiser. The article is titled, “Woman Paleface an Indian Chief.”


This article caught my attention because it’s about Harriet Maxwell Converse who was a white woman of Scottish and Irish heritage who was adopted by Red Jacket, a Seneca orator and chief. Converse who was a historian, folklorist and poet, used her skills and social position to aid the Seneca in the protection of their culture and lands. I was drawn to this article because of the mention of Red Jacket, since SUNY Geneseo has a Red Jacket Dining Hall. Harriet Maxwell Converse was adopted into Red Jacket’s family as an honor for all of her work that had helped the Senecas maintain what they had. As we begin our research Converse seems like a good person to look into!

Other Resources:

“HARRIET CONVERSE FOUGHT FOR NATIVE AMERICAN RIGHTS Series: Women’s History Month.” Syracuse Herald American, Mar 26, 2000, pp. B1. ProQuest,

Town Myth Assignment

The land upon which SUNY Geneseo now sits originally belonged to the Haudenosaunee people, particularly the Senecas, prior to European colonization.

In 1779, during the Revolutionary war, George Washington sent Generals Sullivan and Clinton on an “expedition…against the hostile Indian tribes of the north” (Norton, V). They used a “scorched-earth policy” meaning they entered native villages and burned all the homes and fields to the ground, which would force the natives to move off of the land that the colonists wanted to claim.  Doty writes, “As a measure of future security to the settlements it fully accomplished its object; this attained, red men and white alike briefly quit the region; the former, save as a broken remnant, never to return” (Doty, 22) Many of the natives retreated and took refuge at a fort in the north.

The history of the Geneseo region is quiet for a few years, until Col. Jeremiah Wadsworth bought the land and sent his two younger relatives, James and William Wadsworth, to cultivate the land in 1790. They are considered the first settlers of the Geneseo area, and many buildings and streets around the town were given the Wadsworth name.

In 1797 the Wadsworths orchestrated the Treaty of Big Tree. This treaty was paramount to the European settlement of this area, because the treaty effectively robbed the Senecas of the rest of their land in New York State.

The myth of Geneseo then is that after 1797 and the Treaty of Big Tree, natives in the area just disappeared. I couldn’t find any last native name, and most of the books that I looked through shifted focus after this Treaty to the European settlements. Effectively, the story says that during the Revolutionary War Generals Sullivan and Clinton burned down all the native villages, the natives fled to Canada or Buffalo or Wisconsin, and any that remained were robbed of their land in the following decades through treaties with the state and federal governments, and European encroachments.


Doty, Lockwood R. History of Livingston County, New York. W. J. Van Deusen, Publisher. 1905


Wadsworth, H. A. Two Hundred and Fifty Years of the Wadsworth Family in America Containing an Account of the Family Reunion, at Duxbury, Mass., September 13, 1882, and a Genealogical Register, Prepared Expressly for This Work. 1883.

Iroquois Artifacts

These smoking pipes are made of clay. Each Iroquois man would have owned one of these smoking pipes–either made of clay or carved from stone or antlers, bones or wood. The Iroquois would have had different pipes for different occasions, so there would have been special pipes for celebratory occasions. It is believed that Tobacco would have been the one plant that men primarily cultivated.


Timeline Project

This was easily the hardest thing I’ve had to make for a class! It’s nice to see it as a final product though, and I appreciate the history that we learned from the readings in order to finish this project.

My favorite part of this project was reading a bit about creation myths, and the various ways that the five nations made sense of their history. I was also surprised to learn that between 1785 and 1842 there were 27 land transactions between NY state and the native nations in the area, however only 2 of them were sanctioned by the federal government. I also found the “two furrows a year” rule interesting, because it proved how the settlers in the area were taking native land bit by bit.

The more we read about and discuss the native land in our regions, I’m getting more excited to really get into studying the Geneseo area. I also found myself looking up the history of my hometown earlier today!

Scavenger Hunt

The scavenger hunt through our school’s library was enlightening, as I realized just how many resources we have at our disposal. After hearing from other students in this class, it seems that SUNY Geneseo has a lot for us to work with, and the Native American history in the area seems to plentiful and easier to find than in other areas of the country.

I was really excited to learn how to use microfilm. We have around fifteen rolls of microfilm at our disposal, and lots of periodicals both local and national as well.

The process of finishing the scavenger hunt was a bit difficult, because the historical society in Geneseo has odd hours, and only certain reference librarians were able to show us certain things, so we initially were referred to another person, and then another! However we’ve now met and worked a bit with some of the librarians who will help us through this course, and we’ve also compiled a list of places we could actually visit in the area around Geneseo to explore some of the history further.

The scavenger hunt really got me excited for the work ahead!

The photo above is a hand-drawn map of the Cayuga reservation in the 1700s, and I just found it really interesting. I’m familiar with the present day map of this area, and to see what a large area the Cayuga had 200 years ago, raised a lot of questions, and got me interested in how the land was divided and taken from them.

Below are the results of our scavenger hunt: