Sunday, March 3, 2013

2013 Eastern American Indian History Conference

Eastern American Indian History Conference 
Saturday, April 20th & Sunday, April 21st, 2013 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Fort Pitt’s Eastern American Indian History Conference is dedicated to examining the lives and material culture of the original inhabitants of the region east of the Mississippi River during the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries.  In addition to the speakers, a limited number of juried tables will be available for artisans who create historical replicas and for educational displays. 

The conference goals are: 

To share the histories of both individual Native Americans and Indian nations  

To better understand and interpret their history through the lens of their material world and possessions 

To study their interaction with the European and Euro-American newcomers they encountered in areas such as trade, diplomacy, missions, and military action 

To provide common ground for academics, American history enthusiasts, museum professionals, and collectors, both Native American and non- Native, to share and learn from each other   

To foster continued research into the history of Native peoples and provide a platform to present new perspectives    


Daniel Ingram is an Assistant Professor of American History at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He received his Ph. D. from the College of William and Mary in 2008, and also worked for several years with Colonial Williamsburg’s Department of Archaeological Research. Dan’s book, Indians and British Outposts in Eighteenth-Century America, takes a case-study approach toward the examination of several British frontier outposts as arenas of Native American-European cultural exchange. He is currently working on a study of the historical uses and memory of George Rogers Clark.

Dan will be presenting Violence, Diplomacy, and Coexistence in the Eastern Great Lakes, 1763- 1764, an examination of British-Indian relations in the vicinity of the Niagara fort system during Pontiac’s Rebellion. By looking at these events in the broad context of 18th-Century British- French conflict and Iroquois diplomacy, Dan argues that violence and diplomacy had always been two sides of Seneca-British relations. While some Senecas certainly resented recent British affronts, and may have sympathized with Pontiac’s revitalization goals, their actions during that fateful year had more to do with maintaining a long, unwanted, but necessary coexistence with British soldiers and traders who had clearly come to stay at the Niagara straits.

Michael Galban is currently the public historian at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, \New York.  Ganondagan is a late 17th century Seneca town site and nationally regarded as a center for Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) history and cultural preservation.  He has expert knowledge of Native American material culture specializing in eastern woodland cultures and has been actively working with the Haudenosaunee communities to revive interest in ancient material culture traditions. 

Michael will be presenting "I will shoot at them while I have an arrow left": The Persistence of Archery in the Northeast Woodlands.  The bow and arrow remain an enduring icon of Native American culture and with good reason. This presentation will take a practical look at woodland Indian archery during the colonial period. The common perception is that once firearms became available to Native peoples in the northeast, that the bow was cast aside for the more "advanced" weaponry. There is, however, a significant amount of evidence that points to the contrary and examining this information will be the focus of the presentation.

George R. Hamell majored in anthropology and American history at St. John Fisher College.  George served as Curator of Anthropology at the Rochester Museum and Science Center until 1981, when he joined the New York State Museum and served in several successive roles: as Senior Exhibits Planner in Anthropology, as ad hoc curator of ethnology and archeology, and lastly, as Senior Historian.  On his retirement, Mr. Hamell returned to Rochester to become the curator of the Rock Foundation Collection.   

George will be presenting Obscure Rules of Wampum Belt Diplomacy at this year's conference.  The exchange and presentation of wampum played an essential role in 18th century Native diplomacy, and often followed well-known formal protocols.  Occasionally, circumstances beyond the control of the diplomats prevented their implementation. This talk will examine the historical record for the obscure procedures and rules that were used when the formal rules were not able to be followed.  

Alan Gutchess has been researching and recreating various aspects of frontier material culture for over 30 years, as an independent scholar, and while working for various museums and historical societies.  One particular area of intense interest is the weapons and accessories used for hunting and warfare by both Europeans and American Indians during the 18th century.  Alan is currently the Director of the Fort Pitt Museum. 

Alan will be presenting Brass Tacks & Curious Figures: 18th Century American Indian Powderhorns.  Just as with their Euro-American counterparts, Native American hunters and warriors made extensive use of cow and bison horn containers to store and transport their gunpowder.   At times merely utilitarian, examples could also be highly decorated.  Some of these were created by Native craftsmen, while others were acquired through the Indian trade, as gifts, or even as war prizes.   Alan will present an overview of these once common tools, drawing from archaeology, historic accounts, period artwork, and surviving horns with Indian provenience. 

Andrew Gaerte is an 18th century material culture scholar.  Andrew has worked as the Education Manager at the Fort Pitt Museum since graduating from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in 2010.  A frequent contributor to the Western Pennsylvania History Magazine, he is currently researching the use, manufacture, and symbolism of sleeve buttons in Colonial America.  

Andrew will be presenting “All very determined to conquer or die”: Fort Pitt Under Siege, 1763.  For two months in the summer of 1763, Fort Pitt, and the 500 inhabitants within its walls, were laid siege to by a combined force of allied tribes from the Great Lakes region.  While Fort Pitt withstood the siege, many other British forts did not.  This talk will examine how the fort’s defenders were witnesses to the total and unconventional style of warfare that marked the larger conflict of Pontiac’s rebellion.  

Scott Meachum is an independent researcher and historian whose primary areas of interest include contact period Native American material culture, specializing in warfare and pictography.  He has published articles on war clubs and war pictography and is a frequent speaker on these subjects. Scott has conducted extensive research in private and institutional collections throughout North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe. 

Scott will be presenting "I'm a Man, and a Warrior too": Interpreting Woodland Indian Tattoos.  This presentation will examine various tattoo design elements and offer suggestions to their meaning. The main focus will be why warriors tattooed themselves and the connotations these symbols represented. A wide variety of source material from prehistoric and historic period contexts will be utilized to offer connections and help interpret these tattoo symbols.

Conference Schedule 

Saturday, April 20, 2013 

8:00 a.m. Registration 

9:15 a.m. Introduction/Opening Remarks 

9:30 a.m. Daniel Ingram 
Violence, Diplomacy, and Coexistence in the Eastern Great Lakes, 1763-1764 

11:30 a.m. Michael Galban 
"I will shoot at them while I have an arrow left": The Persistence of Archery in the Northeast Woodlands 

1:00 p.m. Lunch Break 

2:30 p.m. George R. Hamell  
Obscure Rules of Wampum Belt Diplomacy 

4:30 p.m. Alan Gutchess 
Brass Tacks & Curious Figures: 18th Century American Indian Powderhorns 

6:00 p.m. Dinner Break 

7:00 p.m. Conference/Vendor Room Reopens 

7:30 p.m. Entertainment – TBA 

9:30 p.m. Conference/Vendor Room Closes 

Sunday, April 21, 2013 

9:00 a.m. Andrew Gaerte 
“All very determined to conquer or die”: Fort Pitt Under Siege, 1763 

11:00 a.m. Scott Meachum 
"I'm a Man, and a Warrior too": Interpreting Woodland Indian Tattoos 

2:00 p.m. Conference Closes 

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