Broken Treaties, Forgotten Archives

Philadelphia Quakers, Allegany Senecas, and the Fight for Sacred Grounds

"Broken Treaties, Forgotten Archives" is a collaborative recovery project completed by the students in John Hyland's writing seminar, "Ecological Imaginaries: Identity, Violence, and the Environment." In this environmental humanities-based seminar, students interrogated how imaginings of the environment are inseparable from issues of social justice. For this project, students spent significant time in Haverford's Special Collections, studying materials in the Theodore Brinton Hetzel papers, a Haverford alumnus who belonged to the Indian Committees of the American Friends Service Committee and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends. Hetzel, along with other Philadelphia Quakers such as Walter Taylor, served on the Friends Kinzua Dam Project in the 1960s, which fought to stop the construction of a 179-foot dam on the Allegheny River in Warren, Pennsylvania. The dam, which was completed in 1964, flooded out the sacred grounds of the Seneca Nation of Indians, dispossessing them of lands that had been granted to them in 1794 by the US Government with the Pickering Treaty. Using archival materials, this exhibition seeks to tell the story of a fight for Indigenous rights, sacredness, and environmental justice that has been--like so many stories of dispossession--too easily forgotten.

Walt Taylor, Gen Cassidy, John Chancelor, Arthur Morgan, George Heron, Phillip Nash appear on "This Loss of Land," a production of Philadelphia's WCAU-TV.

Harry Watt and Abner Jimeson are shown in Plains Indian-style war bonnets and dress with the Kinzua Dam under construction in the background. This was part of a public relations strategy that exploited America's stereotyped images of Indians.

Seneca Nation office, choosing lots--Jessie Snow, Dorothy Jimerson, Bob Haines, George Heron, Kenneth Snow, Walt Taylor.

Walt and Peggy Taylor "Farewell Dinner"--with George Heron and others

An engineer from the Army Corps explains the construction of the Kinzua Dam to members of the Seneca Nation and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends Kinzua Project.

Walt Taylor on "This Loss of Land."

Walt Taylor, George Heron, and two others with maps, February 1961



  • Maya Ahmed
  • Jeremy Akin
  • Lillian Alonzo
  • Jack Anderson
  • Isabelle Angstman
  • Leila Breen
  • Pamela Gonzalez
  • Rachel Gordon
  • Lucas Greenbaum
  • Julie Hanss
  • Abiola Irvine
  • David Kong
  • Joshua McKeever
  • Nathan Merrill
  • Tate Miller
  • Jacob Murray
  • Alison Rosenman
  • Abigail Singer
  • Alyssa Spaeth
  • Sophie Titlebaum
  • Katherine Travisano
  • Eleanor Wachtel
  • Hannah Zoll


  • John Hyland

Supporting Librarians

  • Sarah Horowitz, Head of Quaker & Special Collections
  • Mike Zarafonetis, Coordinator for Digital Scholarship and Services

Digital Scholarship Student Assistants

  • Taylor Cross
  • Shaun Fedrick
  • Sabrina Kwak

Works Cited

  • Bilharz, Joy. The Allegany Senecas and Kinzua Dam: Forced Relocation Through Two Generations. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
  • DamNation. Directed by Ben Knight and Travis Rummel. Ventura, CA: Patagonia, 2014.