Seneca Cayuga Nation
Restoration of Longhouse Project
The Seneca Cayuga Nation Ceremonial Grounds, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Oklahoma, are the heart of the Nation’s cultural and traditional life. The Longhouse and Rock House, located on the Ceremonial Grounds, had both fallen into significant disrepair, threatening the ability of the Nation to continue to carry out ceremonial activities there. Our Phase 1 grant involved restoration of the Longhouse. Tribal funds and National Park Service Historic Preservation Funds were used to restore the structure of the Longhouse. Phase 1 funding involved replacement of permanent interior furnishings in the Longhouse, including traditional seating, the offering table, and the meat cutting table, all of which are central in ceremonial activities.
The Seneca Cayuga Nation retains its original ceremonies going back hundreds of years. The benches, offering table, and meat cutting table are used by the Faith-keepers and Pothangers in the Longhouse and serve important roles in ceremonial activities throughout the year. All of these longhouse furnishings were replaced, and as a result, the full scope of year-round cultural activities has resumed at the Longhouse. The Nation has celebrated nearly a year of ceremonies there since the work was done. The Cultural Resource Fund Phase 1 project has resulted in a significant improvement in the Nation’s ability to carry out key activities in its traditional and ceremonial life and to preserve those traditions for future generations. The Phase 1 grant provided the means, not available from any other source, to complete the Longhouse Restoration.
The Nation used a $59,692 National Park Service Historic Preservation Grant to perform structural repairs and improvements on the Longhouse, and leveraged that with $24,680 in Tribal funds to complete replacement of the roof. The Faith-Keepers and Pothangers provided significant time in reviewing and contributing to the planning process. The project also facilitated interaction and cooperation between the Cultural Preservation Staff and the Nation’s ceremonial people, who worked together to ensure that all portions of the project met the ceremonial needs of the people, as well as followed proper policies. Although this did not involve new groups, it did foster stronger cooperative relationships within the Nation. In addition, tribal members from all over the country have attended ceremonies in the new Longhouse, particularly during the annual Green Corn Festival. As a result, more tribal members have been exposed to and included in ceremonial activities.
The next phase of the restoration of the Bassett Ceremonial Grounds will include significant and desperately needed repairs to the Rock House, including repairs to ceilings damaged by a water leak and deteriorated chimney lining, among other issues.