Kali photos/Christopher Johnson
Oneida Nation Chairman Tehasssi Hill listens intently as National Society Sons of the American Revolution President General Davis Wright delivers remarks about the Oneida people saving colonial America during the Revolutionary War. Wright presented Hill with the Distinguished Patriotic Leadership Award, which he accepted on behalf of the Oneida people.
President General of the National Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Davis Wright, Vice President General William Austin, along with Wisconsin and Michigan Societies Sons of the American Revolution President Sam Keith, made an honorary visit to the Oneida Nation Reservation March 31. Appearing at the Oneida Nation Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7784, Presidents Wright and Keith presented Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill with a pair of awards in recognition of the critical role the tribe played in the war. Hill accepted the awards on behalf of the Oneida Nation.
“I am very honored to be here to present the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution’s Distinguished Patriotic Leadership Award,” Wright said. “This is to recognize the Oneida Nation for the assistance that they provided to the American soldiers during the American Revolution and for the more than 250 years of continued service and assistance to the United States and its military.”
Wright then paused to offer a thought he’d contemplated for years. “Part of me wonders if I’d even be here if it weren’t for the Oneida people,” Wright said. “My patriotic ancestor served in the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment and spent that famous winter at Valley Forge. It was there, where I have no doubt, that he was saved by the gift of corn by the Oneida people. I found this to be very moving and very personal as I was preparing for this presentation.
“I would like to say on behalf of the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution, our 35,000 members, that I’m very pleased and honored to be here to present the Distinguished Patriotic Leadership Award to the Oneida Nation,” said Wright.
Chairman Hill then spoke while accepting the award. “On behalf the Oneida Nation I accept this distinguished recognition today,” Hill said. “We are grateful for this honor from the Sons of the American Revolution. Our history about Valley Forge continues to be shared to this day. For our people the recollections of Valley Forge bring to mind the patriotism of our Oneida Warriors who served in every military conflict on the side of the United States since the Revolutionary War.
“The Oneida people have passed on stories of how our warriors showed courage through the suffering and tragedy of war, and how their perseverance led them to survive the scourge of destruction and decimation of their homelands. Our people take great pride in sharing the history of the Oneida white corn at Valley Forge. This story has been shortened but its impact is quite powerful. So, with a good mind, a good heart, and a strong fire, I express our gratitude for this honor today. Yaw^ko.”
Next, Keith spoke of the relationship between the tribe and the colonists as he presented the next award. “In honor of the relationship between the Oneida Nation and the colonists during the war, the Wisconsin and Michigan Societies of the Sons of the American Revolution would like to present the Oneida Nation this bronze plaque of ‘Oneida Warrior.’ (It was made) to celebrate the Oneida Nation becoming one of the first allies to America when they joined the colonists in their fight for independence from the British Government during the Revolutionary War.”
“For me this is a lasting memory in the highlights of my year as Vice President General of the Great Lakes District Sons of the American Revolution,” Austin said.