ALLEGANY TERRITORY, SALAMANCA, N.Y. – The Seneca Nation is celebrating the return of ancestral land within its Canawaugus Reservation to Nation ownership.
The Nation announced that it has completed the purchase of 1.8 acres of land at 4572 Caledonia Avon Road, in the Town of Caledonia. The parcel, located at the junction of Route 5 and Route 20, is within the boundaries of the Canawaugus Reservation. The purchase marks the Nation’s first step in an effort to return to the Genesee Valley region.
“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 eleven Seneca reservations confirmed in the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree. Canawaugus, which means “smelly waters” in the Seneca language, was a town settlement area, and 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.”