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First Allies noted at Eagle

"First Allies brings to light the role the Oneidas played in our fight for independence," he said.

Despite the Oneida' significant role in our struggle for freedom, the fact "the winners write history" has relegated their story to something of a sidebar, difficult to find in history books -- a situation that Umstead and his teachers are trying to rectify.

Why an alliance?

According to Kuhl and Patterson, the alliance between the Oneida and the colonists was logical, even though (in allegiance with the Tuscaroras) it caused an inevitable split in the Iroquois Confederacy.

"They tried to stay neutral, but they were trying to protect their own land from the British, and helping the colonists was a way to do this. Their contribution was more than significant.

"For example, at the battle of Barren Hill, (near Philadelphia, PA) the Oneidas fought a rear guard action that prevented the British from capturing Lafayette. That would have been a critical loss to the revolution, but it's not well known," he said.

An opportunity

Teacher and Nation member Ron Patterson spent his youth on the Seneca Reservation, learning the traditions of his native culture and brings this knowledge to the visiting school groups he educates, as well as to the youth of the Oneida nation.

"What is common knowledge to me, is a surprise to them. Not all of the young Oneidas have had the opportunity to learn that I did," he said. "This is an opportunity to bring the message of the past to young minds.

"I learned the traditions of my people growing up, and it is important to keep those traditions alive. One of my best moments was when a school group was leaving Fort Stanwix and one of the students asked the teacher why they didn't teach this in school."

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