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(left to right) Two Kettles Together (Tyonajanegen), Han Yerry (Han Yerry Tweahangarahken or Han Yerry Doxtader), Skenandoah (Johannus Skenandoah), Wale (Mary Hanonwayele), Grasshopper (Cornelius Ojistalak), and Paul Powless (Tegahsweangalolis)
(left to right) Two Kettles Together (Tyonajanegen), Han Yerry (Han Yerry Tweahangarahken or Han Yerry Doxtader), Skenandoah (Johannus Skenandoah), Wale (Mary Hanonwayele), Grasshopper (Cornelius Ojistalak), and Paul Powless (Tegahsweangalolis)

Meet Oneida people in the midst of a debate about how they will engage in the Revolutionary War. A film and six life-cast figures, including Two Kettles Together (Tyonajanegen), Han Yerry (Han Yerry Tweahangarahken or Han Yerry Doxtader), Skenandoah (Johannus Skenandoah), Wale (Mary Hanonwayele), Grasshopper (Cornelius Ojistalak), and Paul Powless (Tegahsweangalolis), bring the discussion to life at the Museum's Oneida Nation Theater.

Each of the figures is based on a real Oneida person and dressed in garments representative of what these people wore in the 1770s, combining Native fashion and Euro-American textiles and trade goods. Their words are drawn from a variety of sources and written in the style apparent in recorded Native American speeches, treaty negotiations, and conversations.

Read brief biographies below about the six figures that make up the scene, drawn from Joseph T. Glathaar and James Kirby Martin’s book, Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution.

Two Kettles Together

Image 091421 Oneida Theater Figure Two Kettles Together

Tyonajanegen
Two Kettles Together was an Oneida woman who married Han Yerry (see below) in the 1750s and settled at the village of Oriska. By 1777, they managed a large farm, lived in a frame house, and owned a significant number of livestock, as some of the wealthiest local Oneida. On Aug. 2, 1777, she carried word into the countryside that the British and their Native allies were surrounding Revolutionary-held Fort Schuyler. On Aug. 6, at the Battle of Oriskany, Two Kettles fought alongside her husband, first with two pistols and then loading for him after he was wounded, an incident which appeared in period newspapers. Other, British-allied Haudenosaunee/Iroquois destroyed their farm in retribution. Two Kettles Together lived into the 1820s.

Han Yerry

Image 091421 Oneida Figure Theater Han Yerry

Han Yerry Tweahangarahken (He Who Takes Up the Snow Shoe) or Han Yerry Doxtader (referring to part-German ancestry)
Han Yerry was born about 1724 to a Mohawk mother and a German father, though he considered himself an Oneida and became chief warrior of that nation’s Wolf Clan. He was “ordinary sized” and “quite a gentleman in his demeanor.” At the outbreak of the war, he mustered Oneida warriors to support the Revolutionary cause. After Oriskany, Han Yerry was part of the Oneida party that travelled to Valley Forge, where he had a personal dinner with George Washington. In 1779, he was one of a number of Oneida and Tuscarora warriors who received officers’ commissions from Congress (he was made a captain). He remained a leader after the war and died around 1794. 

Skenandoah

Image 091421 Oneida Theater Figure Skenandoah

Johannus Skenandoah
Skenandoah was born in 1706 as a Conestoga but became Oneida soon after through a “requickening” (absorption and reidentification) ritual. After an embarrassing episode in Albany in 1755, he abstained from alcohol for the rest of his life. According to one observer, he “possessed a vigorous mind, and was alike sagacious, active and persevering.” In 1775, he accompanied a Presbyterian missionary friend to the new army camp outside Boston, where they met Washington and the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Because of his allegiance to the Revolution, he was imprisoned by the British at Niagara in 1779-1780 and under a sort of house arrest until 1784. His engagement in the treaty negotiations with the British in this period was something for which some Oneida people never forgave him. He died in 1816, aged about 110.

Wale

Image 091421 Oneida Theater Figure Wale

Mary Hanonwayele
Wale (possibly the Oneida pronunciation of “Mary”) was a member of the Oneida Bear Clan. Her brother, Thomas Sinavis, was one of the Oneida warriors at Valley Forge and was killed at the Battle of Barren Hill on May 20, 1778. Unfortunately, Revolutionary commissioners overlooked her in distributing condolence gifts. In 1794, she finally received a small sum for this purpose as part of larger treaty negotiations between the United States and native groups. She lived until at least 1800.

Grasshopper

Image 091421 Oneida Theather Figure Grasshopper

Cornelius Ojistalak
Grasshopper was Odatshehdeh, the first sachem (leader) of the Oneida. As early as 1776, he was gathering intelligence regarding Haudenosaunee/Iroquois allegiances for Revolutionary leaders in New York. In March 1778, Grasshopper addressed a council of Six Nations representatives at Johnstown, tacitly endorsing Oneida warriors who had sided with the Revolutionaries while also indicting Six Nations warriors who had forced the nations into conflict. In 1781, the French presented him with an embroidered uniform that he wore on future formal occasions, and he was likely part of the Oneida group that accompanied the armies to Yorktown. After the war, he helped petition the U.S. government on behalf of the Oneida and for personal compensation. He died in 1788.

Paul Powless

Image 091421 Oneida Theater Figure Paul Powless

Tegahsweangalolis (The Sawmill)
Powless, born in the 1750s, was a member of the Bear Clan of the Oneida who lived at Kanonwalohale in upstate New York. On Aug. 2, 1777, he spotted members of Theyendanega’s (also known as Joseph Brant) party as it approached Fort Schuyler. This meeting, as recalled by his son in the 19th century, is recreated in the live-action portion of the film (with dialogue inspired by the incident but drawn from a 1778 speech by Grasshopper). Powless was known as a fast runner, and after conversing with Brant he escaped to warn the Oneida who were outside of the Fort. He died about 1847.

Interested in learning more about the contributions of the Oneida Nation in the Revolutionary War? The Museum's 25-minute film People of the Standing Stone: The Oneida Nation, The War of Independence and the Making of America, directed by Emmy Award winner Ric Burns and narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Costner, explores the crucial but little known history. The film is shown daily at 3:30 p.m. in the Museum's Lenfest Myer Theater and is available for purchase from the Museum Shop in-store and online.

Learn More

This image depicts the book cover of Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution by Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin. The cover shows a sole Indian man in a canoe in the water. His back is toward the viewer and he is looking down. There is a 13-star American flag draped in the background of the cover.
 

Forgotten Allies

This excerpt recounts how Oneida tribal members found themselves facing increasing pressure to choose sides as the Anglo-American conflict intensified.
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This image shows the book cover of The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution by Alan Taylor. At the top of the image are two illustrations: on the left is a settler and on the right is a Native American.
 

The Divided Ground

Read this excerpt from Alan Taylor that tells of an important ally in the American Revolution: the Oneida Nation, a nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.
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Oneida Indian Nation leader Ray Halbritter joins President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson to discuss his role in the campaign to rename the NFL's Washington Football Team and more.
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