Friday, June 4, 2010

Celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the Tuscarora Nation’s Journey Home

Tuscarora talk to students at a recent visit to Cedar Cliff High School

In June of 1710, a delegation of Tuscarora Indians was dispatched from present day North Carolina to deliver a set of wampum belts to the Governor of Pennsylvania. The delegation was seeking permission to relocate the tribe to Pennsylvania to avoid a war with colonists in North Carolina. The meeting was held on June 8th at Conestoga Town, Manor Township, Lancaster County where representatives sent by Lt. Governor Gookin and the Provincial Council met with the Tuscarora.

The Tuscarora carried eight wampum belts symbolizing their desire to have safe lands for their children to play and young men to hunt, protection from slavery, freedom to travel in order to gather wood, food and water, and that they might find peace with their neighbors and the Provincial Government. The Governor and his representatives acknowledged the plan of the Tuscarora to live peaceably and granted them a safe place to live.

After some discussion, members of the Iroquois confederacy invited the Tuscarora to move to their lands in New York. War delayed the move but following its end in 1713, the tribe started migrating north through the Susquehanna Valley. The Tuscarora Nation was admitted to the Iroquois confederacy “on the cradleboard” in the early 1720’s but the move lasted over 50 years.

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of their journey home, the Tuscarora Nation is sending some of its young men to retrace the steps of their ancestors along the trail. At 11:00 on June 8, 2010, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will host a ceremony in Memorial Hall to honor the meeting at Conestoga Town held 300 years ago. Officials from the Nation, including a Clan Mother, will be present, along with some of the individuals who will walk the route from North Carolina through Pennsylvania to New York. Featured will be a party of Tuscarora dancers who are renowned as the best of the Iroquoian dancers. The Tuscarora are Iroquoian speakers.

In their sojourn through our state, the Tuscarora left a lasting legacy which honors their nation in the names of towns, streams and mountains. The Commonwealth appreciates their contributions to our heritage and wishes to strengthen our ties with the Tuscarora Nation. The Tuscarora Indian Nation is a federally recognized tribe, acknowledged by the Federal Government as having a government to government relationship with the United States.

The meeting at Conestoga town 300 year ago was the beginning of a new life for the Tuscarora Nation. It is part of their heritage and also a significant part of the Commonwealth’s heritage. We feel this is an exceptional opportunity to celebrate the cooperation between the Commonwealth and the Tuscarora Nation in the same approach as our Provincial Government 300 years ago.

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

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