Celebrating the Seneca Nation in Caneadea and the Lavendar Festival in Angelica
Special to The Wellsville Sun by Kathyrn Ross
July 1st is a big and a historic day for Allegany County that will not only attract thousands of visitors, but also entertain and educate the masses with two events.
Nearly 200 years ago the serene valley of the Genesee River was home to the Seneca Indians of the Iroquois Confederacy. They were the Keepers of the Western Door tasked with protecting their Nation from attacks from the West.
Here they lived and hunted for thousands of years until the French, English and American Patriots came on the scene. An unfortunate alliance with the English at the time of the Revolutionary War pitted the Seneca against the Americans. Because they raided and harassed the settlers in the area under the influence of the British, General George Washington sent General John Sullivan into the western wilderness (Allegany County) to destroy the Seneca. Sullivan waged a scorched earth fight against the Seneca at the height of the harvest, destroying the Seneca’s home and sustenance.
At the end of the war, the Treaty of Big Tree was signed establishing a Seneca reservation in what is now Caneadea. Less than 30 years later the treaty was broken, and the Seneca left Caneadea.
197 years later on July 1 the Seneca will return to their ancestral home.
The town is gearing up for Caneadea Field Day at the Caneadea Town Park located behind the fire hall on state route 19 in Houghton from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The event is free to the public, but parking at the fire hall is $5.
The celebration will include a peaceful friendship ceremony where gifts will be exchanged between the organizers and hosts and where a Black Walnut tree will be planted in testimony to the shared history. There will also be lacrosse demonstrations and play, cultural, memorabilia and food booths, native dancing and a tent for elders.
Organizers hope this event will grow into a yearly celebration.
Also on Saturday is the annual Lavender Festival in Angelica taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Park Circle. Entrance and parking are free.
15 years ago, a group of entrepreneurial women in Angelica got together with the idea of establishing a new cottage industry in the county – the growing and selling of lavender. Mother Nature and the local climate stopped the new industry from taking root. But what came out of the original idea was, The Lavender Festival which took lavender production in a different direction. Today scores of artisans, bakers, craftsman, gardeners, and culinary advocates use lavender to create a variety of items, from seasonings to bracelets
This year free lavender plants will be distributed on a limited basis. There will be lavender laced foods as well as local culinary delights, There will be a basket raffle and over 40 vendors, games, and crafts for children. Local musical acts will perform live throughout the day.
This year’s event will also pay tribute to one of the founders – Sharon Rader who passed away earlier this year and who worked tirelessly over the years to establish the Lavender Festival.