The Battle of Oriskany took place on Aug. 6, 1777. Colonists loyal to the British and their allies in the Iroquois Confederacy fought Gen. Nicholas Herkimer’s army and members of the Oneidas. Herkimer was mortally wounded, and his army lost nearly half of its soldiers, in what was considered one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
Although the loyalists won the battle, historians consider it a turning point for the Americans who gained an important ally in the Oneidas, and spurred a civil war among the Confederacy. Although the Oneidas and Tuscaroras sided with the Americans and the other four nations with the British, the split is considered analogous to the American Civil War in which family members differed in their views and often took different sides.
The same thing occurred with the settlers. Herkimer’s own brother, Han Yost, sided with the British and led an Indian brigade against his brother’s army in Oriskany.
In a similar way, Kelahan acknowledged that there are different opinions on the Redskin nickname.
“We understand that we do not have the same cultural background as other people, and we understand that other people may have a different perspective,” he said. “I can’t really tell you where it will go in the future, but it has never come up with us, and it has never been a point of contention here.”
In Lancaster, east of Buffalo, the history is different but the attitude isn’t.
According to Sandra Janik, secretary to Superintendent Edward Myszka, there are very few complaints or concerns about the nickname.
“We probably get a complaint about once a year, but nothing ever happens with it,” she said.
School officials in Canisteo-Greenwood, west of Horseheads, near the Pennsylvania state line, also indicated that they have not had any movement to change the school’s nickname.