Meadville Tribune

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June 11, 2014

Custaloga Town French and Indian War Encampment set to take you back in time this weekend

CARLTON, Mercer County — Coordinators of the ninth annual Custaloga Town French and Indian War Encampment believe this year’s event will have all the historical thrill of its predecessors and more with the addition of an exciting new feature — visitation from members of the New York-based Seneca Nation of Indians.

The encampment, which typically features 200 or more reenactors and attracts more than 5,000 spectators over its two days, is expected to include battle reenactments, artillery demonstrations, colonial workshops, children’s activities and historical lectures this Saturday and Sunday, according to Jim Brown, event director and French Creek Living History Association member.

The event is held traditionally at the Custaloga Town Scout Reservation, which is about 1,000 acres, and includes the former site of Chief Custaloga’s village in French Creek Township, Mercer County, Brown said.

The Seneca Nation’s involvement includes an historical lecture by Jay Toth, tribal archeologist, at around 4 p.m. Saturday followed by a demonstration by a group of dancers.

“We’re working on trying to preserve the site and burial site,” Toth said. “We’re interested because Guyasuta was supposedly buried there.”

Chief Guyasuta, a member of the Seneca tribe, is perhaps best known for being a major leader in the Pontiac Rebellion of the mid-1700s. The rebellion was an offensive launched by Native Americans of the Great Lakes region against British forces after the French and Indian War.

One statue made of Guyasuta’s likeness in Pennsylvania rests near Point State Park in Pittsburgh, beside a statue of George Washington.

“He was pretty much the architect of the Pontiac Rebellion,” Toth said, “so the site was of pretty significant influence in terms of western Pennsylvania history.”

By joining the encampment Saturday, Toth hopes not only to educate attendees, but to forge ties with local historical groups and related organizations to preserve and maintain Chief Custaloga’s former village.

“There’s been very little done in terms of preservation in the area,” he said. “We hope to identify the village and do what’s necessary to set it aside, hopefully get it on the National Register (of Historic Places) later down the road.”

Brown mentioned some historians find Guyasuta’s final resting place debatable, but is nonetheless excited to play host to members of the Seneca Nation.

“We’ve had reenactors with native heritage; even a couple full-blood natives are reenactors, but this is the first time any Indian tribe or nation itself got involved,” he said. “Hopefully, if the Seneca like it, they can keep coming back. It’s a Native American site, so it’s nice to have them involved.”

Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kfekos@meadvilletribune.com.

You can go

The ninth annual Custaloga Town French and Indian War Encampment is 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Custaloga Town Scout Reservation, 7 Boy Scout Lane, Carlton, Mercer County, near Cochranton. Parking and admission are free. Coordinators request the public make a voluntary donation and ride the horsedrawn shuttles.

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