George Washington’s pipe tomahawk returns to the Seneca Iroquois National Museum

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A historic tomahawk is on display at at the Seneca Iroquois National Museum.

President George Washington had the tomahawk custom made for the Seneca Diplomat John Abeel III — known as Cornplanter. It was a gift to Cornplanter, during the negotiations for the treaty of Canandaigua back in 1792.

The Senecas celebrated it’s official homecoming on Thursday after it was missing for decades.

“Cornplanter was Allegheny-Seneca and he was an important man in history, not only for the Seneca Nation, but for the United States,” said Rick Jemison chairman of the board of trustees for the museum. “At the end of the revolutionary war, he worked with George Washington to negotiate a peace with the Senecas and the young country of the United States of America. And in honor of that, George Washington presented him with the pipe tomahawk at one of his meetings in Philadelphia.”

After Cornplanter died, the tomahawk found its way to the New York State museum in Albany. It was stolen from there and was missing for decades.

“And, it disappeared among private secret collectors for about 70 years, and our curators would track it and look for it , they would look for ads in auctions and it would pop up,” said Mark Schaming, director of the New York State Museum.

The New York State museum eventually obtained if from an unidentified private citizen in 2018. The museum had temporarily returned to the Senecas but now, its’ officially at home.

“This is monumental. It’s our identity. Cornplanter defended our sovereignty, he was one of our most respected leaders, it was a gift to him president Washington, so it’s an important artifact in our history,” Rickey L. Armstrong President of Seneca Nation.

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