State Museum's stolen tomahawk returned, will go on displayJuly 5, 2018 | In the Press
An 18th-century Native American tomahawk given to the Seneca leader Cornplanter by President George Washington in 1792 will go on display at the State Museum.
The tomahawk was stolen from the museum between 1947 and 1950 and had been privately owned. An anonymous collector returned the pipe tomahawk to the State Museum's collections in June.
It will go on exhibit July 17 through Dec. 30.
Gwendolyn Saul, curator of ethnography, will host a talk about the return of Cornplanter's pipe tomahawk at noon Tuesday, July 17, at the State Museum's Huxley Theater.
In the 18th century, pipe tomahawks could be used as smoking pipes in a ceremonial practice after two sides reached an agreement.
The meetings between Washington and Cornplanter, also known as Gy-ant-waka, in the 1790s eventually led to the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, which established peace between the sovereign nations of the U.S. and the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy, according to the State Museum.
The pipe tomahawk entered the State Museum's collection in 1850 after Seneca diplomat Ely Parker bought it from the widow of a Seneca named Small Berry. On one side of the blade is written Gy-ant-waka and on the other side of the blade is the name "John Andrus," possibly the manufacturer.
Parker replaced the haft with one made of curly maple wood and silver inlay to reflect what the original haft may have looked like, based on descriptions from Small Berry's widow. Parker also added a brass plate engraved with his name on the bore end of the tomahawk.