Partnerships are vital to the success of any organization. By collaborating with others, multiple new ideas are communicated. More brains working towards a common goal increases the chances of reaching said goal. For example, museums may collaborate with colleges and universities with the common goal to increase knowledge about a certain topic. Take us at Seneca-Iroquois National Museum (SINM) and Cornell University as an example! SNIM and Cornell collaborated to publish a digital collections of two Onöndowa’ga:’ (Seneca) archaeological sites. The digital collection aims to provide knowledge about the lives of Onöndowa’ga:’ people in New York from a minimally understood time period. You can read more about the significance of this collaboration between SINM and Cornell here!

SINM has been fortunate enough to form partnerships with many other institutions, organizations, and individuals. Recently, SINM had the awesome opportunity to collaborate with The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and the Salamanca Rail Museum. Featured as part of our Spring Speaker Series, listener’s got to learn interesting new perspectives from both The Westmoreland and the Rail museum.

On April 24, 2024, we got to hear from The Westmoreland Museum’s Director of Learning, Engagement and Partnerships, Dr. Erica Nuckles.

Dr. Nuckles presented a fascinating talk titled, “Remarks on a March”: A Female Perspective on the French and Indian War.

She began her talk by sharing the famous painting The Wounding of General Braddock: Battle of the Monongahela. Significantly, this painting is missing two notable players of the war: Women and Native Americans. It is certain that Women and Native Americans were at this battle, in fact it was one of the greatest victories for natives! The concept of ‘erasing’ people from history led Dr. Nuckles to the idea of “Creating Common Memory”. SINM Director Hayden Haynes, was invited by Dr. Nuckles to guest curate Westmoreland’s “Creating Common Memory” exhibit. This exhibit offers an unique Indigenous, specifically, Onöndowa’ga:’, perspective on select pieces of Westmoreland’s American art collection. In return Dr. Nuckles was invited to share her expertise on another group commonly erased from history- women. All in the purpose of Creating Common Memory and “recovering” histories.

The Wounding of General Braddock: Battle of the Monongahela 9 July 1755 painting
The Wounding of General Braddock by Robert Griffing

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art

A vintage photo of a man in a jacket and slacks standing in front of the wooden doors of a railroad station building.
Pat Jimerson (Seneca), section worker for Pennsy Railroad, 1942

Pat Jimerson (Seneca), section worker for Pennsy Railroad, 1942

Then on May 1st, former director of SINM, Jare Cardinal presented. Jare, now the director of the Salamanca Rail Museum gave a presentation titled “Hodinöhsö:ni’ Railroad Workers on the Allegany Territory”.

As the title implies, the talk featured Seneca men who had worked on the 3 railroads that made Salamanca a ‘railroad’ town. Cardinal opened her talk with good humor, stating Salamanca was a swamp and Natives, being sensible, did not settle in swamps. It was only because of the railroads that the Seneca people came to Salamanca. The 3 railroads that were crucial to Salamanca’s identity were the Pennsylvania Railroad (originally the WNY and PA Railroad), the Erie Railway, and the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway. Did you know that railroads were so essential to the Salamanca’s identity that the town was named after Duke Jose Salamanca of Spain?! Be sure to check out Cardinal’s recorded talk to hear the crazy story of how Duke Jose Salamanca ended up investing in the Erie Railway!

An old newspaper with the headline "Seneca Indians Help Smooth the Way for Erie Trains". Beneath headline is the featured image of a crew of railroad workers grouped together for a photo. in the left lower corner is a railroad worker bent over tending to the tracks. two columns of text then are situated beside this image.
The featured story in an old newspaper.

Cardinal excellently recounted the history of the Salamanca railroads. The real highlight of her talk however, was on the Seneca railroad workers themselves. Cardinal’s thorough research into the Seneca employees who had worked these railways shone throughout her narrative.

Rewarding Cardinal’s hard work and research was the response from the community. It was so special to witness audience members ‘perk up’ and exclaim their relation to certain railroad workers Cardinal had highlighted in her presentation!

Screenshot of a slide from Jare Cardinal's powerpoint presentation. The slide has two images of individual railroad workers one in upper left one in bottom right with accompanying information.
Watson Pierce and Paul Pierce featured on a slide of Cardinal's presentation.

Perhaps, one of your relatives was mentioned in Cardinal’s talk! If not in her presentation, Cardinal had also compiled a large binder of information about individual Seneca railroad workers. Cardinal has exciting plans for the Salamanca Railroad Museum, including programming the employee information onto interactive kiosks and commissioning a barn to hold Engine 152. Engine 152 is the last engine from the Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh Railway remaining and significantly was Hawley Pierce’s engine. Hawley Pierce was the first Native American to be hired as a railroad engineer and came from a notable family of athletes. With the return of Engine 152 to Salamanca, Cardinal additionally hopes to commission a statue of Hawley to accompany his engine.

Learn more about Salamanca’s Railroad history and all the important community members who contributed to these railroads by visiting the Salamanca Railroad Museum! The museum is open Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Thursdays 12-4 p.m. Additionally, you can request information about the museum by calling (716) 945-3133 or emailing

Seneca-Iroquois National Museum is proud to have established community partnerships with so many other museums, institutions, and even individual community members. Nya:wëh to Dr. Erika Nuckles of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and to Jare Cardinal of the Salamanca Railroad Museum for being part of our 2024 Spring Speaker Series!

Interested in attending one of our Spring Speaker Presentations? Check out our Upcoming Events! We have options to attend talks both in-person and virtually. Subscribe to our YouTube for updates and recordings of past presentations. Nya:wëh!