Niagara Gazette

War of 1812

April 6, 2013

Monument to honor Tuscaroras moves forward


Niagara Gazette — "By this time, the train of white people had gone quite a good ways in their flight," Chief Elias Johnson wrote in an 1881 history of the Tuscaroras. "It is evident that the timely intervention of the Tuscarora Indians saved great slaughter of men, women and children among the white people."

Two days later, British forces went on to destroy what is now Niagara Falls, N.Y., and on Dec. 30, 1813, burned Buffalo to the ground, leaving western New York among the war's most battle-scarred regions of the United States. The White House, uncompleted Capitol building and several other public buildings in Washington were burned the following August, before the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in December 1814 brought an end to the war.

There are three pieces to the monument that Simonson and Geissler designed, each slightly larger than life: A barefooted woman, a baby in one arm, reaches with the other to the outstretched hand of a Tuscarora man while another Tuscarora looks protectively behind them.

"I want you to hear his voice when you look at him," Geissler said, gesturing to the largest of the clay figures soon to be transformed to bronze. His face and hands are carefully detailed and his clothing painstakingly replicated with the help of Tuscarora members. "When you look in his eyes, he's talking to you, you can hear him. You can hear him breathing. That's most important."

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