I have been spending time at the Harrison Hills Park in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, on the banks of our Allegheny River here in the region northeast of Pittsburgh.
The park features a number of woodland nature trails, outdoor learning and activity areas and a beautiful view of the Allegheny River.
There is also evidence of historic Indigenous presence in the area. The most probable residents would have been Senecas, Lenapes and Shawnees.
The COUNCIL OF THREE RIVERS AMERICAN INDIAN CENTER (COTRAIC) was contacted by Susan Goughler who is a member of the FRIENDS OF HARRISON HILLS PARK Council of Friends.
Susan has been working on revisions of the park's Environmental Learning Center which until now has housed a number of exhibits of taxidermy prepared animals and birds, as well as specimens of plants and of animal bones. It has also housed a wide variety of nature and environmental displays.
Susan felt that there was a need to include a more comprehensive display that would represent the Indigenous legacy of our region. As the Indian Center's community outreach and speaker's bureau person it was my pleasure to help her with the research necessary to create a good display.
The display features an authentic Seneca lacrosse stick, a very accurate replica of an 18th century flintlock musket complete with bayonet like the ones traded to the Native people of this area by both the French and the English during he French and Indian War (1754–1763)
It also features woodland culture moccasins, porcupine quills such as the ones used by Norteastern woodlands Natives to decorate their buckskin clothing. She has also managed to acquire beautiful prints of some of the most iconic paintings of eighteenth century Pennsylvania Indigenous people by the world-renowned Gibsonia artist Robert Griffing.
The paintings include this masterpiece that illustrates a game of lacrosse which she framed and hung next to the lacrosse stick.
It was my honor to create a small diorama of a Seneca bark-walled longhouse which has assumed a central position in the display.
It has been a pleasure to help Susan create this great Native American display in her little museum there at Harrison Hills Park.