Seneca Chief Red Jacket

Seneca Chief Red Jacket books and biography


Red Jacket

Red Jacket at Fort Johnson

Red Jacket (known as Otetiani in his youth and Segoyewatha after 1780) (c. 1750–January 20, 1830) was a Native American Seneca chief of the Wolf clan[1] and orator. He was born near present day Geneva, New York and lived much of his life in Seneca territory in the Genesee River Valley. Although they often met together at the Long House, he and Mohawk chief Joseph Brant were bitter enemies and rivals.

He was a signatory along with Cornplanter and fifty other Iroquois, of the sale of most of the Seneca land in western New York for $100,000 to Robert Morris. He originally tried to prevent the sale, but was not able to convince the others, and gave up his opposition. The sale was at Big Tree (now Geneseo, New York in present Livingston County) in 1797 and was well "greased" by a great deal of liquor and bribes of trinkets to the Iroquois women. Morris, who had previously purchased the land from Massachusetts, subject to the Indian title, then sold it to the Holland Land Company, retaining only the Morris Reserve, an estate near present day Rochester.

Red Jacket took this name, one of several, for a highly favored embroidered coat given to him by the British for his wartime services. The Senecas took the British side during the American Revolution, a costly mistake, since their ally lost. In the War of 1812, Red Jacket supported the American side.

Monument at Forest Lawn Cemetery
Monument at Forest Lawn Cemetery

Red Jacket was also known for his speechmaking skill. His alternative name, Segoyewatha, roughly translates he keeps them awake. He is best known for his response to a New England missionary (a Mr. Cram) who had requested in 1805 to do mission work among the Senecas. Red Jacket's speech, as an apologist for the Native American religion, is listed in [1] A public school system, Red Jacket Central, also is named in honor of Segoyewatha and serves the communities of Manchester and Shortsville in Ontario County, New York.

A section of the Buffalo River (New York) is named "Red Jacket Peninsula" in his honor. An informational plaque anointing the aforementioned, with a brief Red Jacket bio as well as other river history, is located along the eastern bank of the river (close to the mouth) at a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation access park, located at the southwestern end of Smith Street in Buffalo, New York.

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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