Cover image for The Allegany Senecas and Kinzua Dam : forced relocation through two generations
The Allegany Senecas and Kinzua Dam : forced relocation through two generations
Bilharz, Joy Ann.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 194 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
Reading Level:
1450 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E99.S3 B45 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In the late 1950s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its intention to construct a dam along the Allegheny River in Warren, Pennsylvania. The building of the Kinzua Dam was highly controversial because it flooded one-third of the Allegany Reservation of the Seneca Nation of Indians. Nearly six hundred Senecas were forced to abandon their homes and relocate, despite a 1794 treaty that had guaranteed them those lands in perpetuity.

In this revealing study, Joy A. Bilharz examines the short- and long-term consequences of the relocation of the Senecas. Granted unparalleled access to members of the Seneca Nation and reservation records, Bilharz traces the psychological, economic, cultural, and social effects over two generations. The loss of homes and tribal lands was heart wrenching and initially threatened to undermine the foundations of social life and subsistence economy for the Senecas. Over time, however, many Senecas have managed to adapt successfully to relocation, creating new social networks, invigorating their educational system, and becoming more politically involved on local, tribal, and national levels.

Author Notes

Joy A. Bilharz is associate professor of anthropology at the State University of New York College at Fredonia.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The construction of Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania created an artificial lake that forced about 600 Senecas from their homes on the Allegany Reservation in southwestern New York in the 1960s. Bilharz deals with this "dislocation" (as she calls it) in two ways. First, she describes the Senecas' reactions to their ordeal over 30 years. Second, she argues that this case study validates the four-stage model for forced removals that was invented by Thayer Scudder and Elizabeth Colson in regard to the Kariba Dam in Zambia. This reviewer has little appreciation for the global abstractions of social science and therefore paid most attention to the historical details of the Allegany removal. He was impressed by the injustice of the Senecas' expulsion from lands guaranteed to them by a treaty of 1794, the sorrow of having their homes inundated, and the resourcefulness with which they reconstructed their lives. He was less impressed by the author's occasional failure to mention chronological particulars (e.g., the dates on which removal began or ended, or those during which the valley was flooded) and presentation of information without documentation. Graduate, faculty. J. A. Hijiya; University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction Learningfrom the Senecasp. xv
1 The Allegany Senecasp. 1
2 Involuntary Relocations An Overviewp. 24
3 Building Kinzua Dam Broken Treatiesp. 48
4 The "New Places" Broken Heartsp. 74
5 Making It in the Great Societyp. 87
6 The 1980s: Rebellion And Reassessmentp. 111
7 The Legacies of Kinzua Damp. 128
Conclusionp. 140
Bibliographyp. 157
Indexp. 183