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ERIC Number: EJ767428
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 21
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0161-6463
A Little School, a Reservation Divided: Quaker Education and Allegany Seneca Leadership in the Early American Republic
Nicholas, Mark A.
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v30 n3 p1-21 2006
Western New York's Allegany Seneca Reservation was a troubled place. John Peirce, one of many Allegany chiefs, could only lament in 1821 how a political situation had spiraled out of control: "war had risen amongst them." Within a span of a few years, Quakers operating a schoolhouse on Seneca lands had ripped apart the Allegany people. In 1816, weighty Quakers dispatched the 22-year-old Joseph Elkinton. Elkinton had some experience educating African Americans but none teaching Indians. Even while lacking knowledge of Seneca language and culture, Elkinton took initiative on the reservation to have a successful school; his work, while benevolent, almost resulted in Senecas killing him. The problems Quakers faced to school the Allegany Senecas in earlier decades, to say the least, were tame in comparison to the chaos that Elkinton's reservation-based efforts unleashed. Between 1816 and 1822, Elkinton meddled in reservation affairs, and in multiple diaries, he chronicled the tumultuous period during which he tried to build his schoolhouse. This study adopts a community-centered perspective with respect to the Allegany school-related debate--an approach advocated by scholars such as Richard White and Joshua Piker. Fortunately, Elkinton's uncommonly rich diaries yield a unique local-level perspective on Allegany Seneca politics, which has remained largely unavailable until now, when analyzed in light of ethnographic, ethnohistorical works and other historical evidence. Elkinton devised categories for the groups vying for power as the school-related debate took its shape: "supporters of improvements" versus "those opposed to improvements." Closer examination of Elkinton's many diaries shows that both Allegany school coalitions were the work of specific leaders with specific clan and village ties. (Contains 1 figure and 71 notes.)
American Indian Studies Center at UCLA. 3220 Campbell Hall, Box 951548, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548. Tel: 310-825-7315; Fax: 310-206-7060; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York