By Peter Van Allen
The gift underscores the Oneidas’ role as “first allies” in the Revolution, fighting alongside the colonists, it said in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning. The Oneida Indian Nation owns the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in upstate New York and other holdings.
Last month, philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest set up a $40 million “challenge” grant for the Revolution museum, and the Oneidas’ gift will be the first major donation toward a goal to raise $150 million. The state of Pennsylvania has pledged $30 million, though it does not count toward the Lenfest challenge grant.
The Museum of the American Revolution, planned for the southeast corner of Third and Chestnut streets, will feature artifacts, manuscripts, rare books and works of art owned by the American Revolution Center, the nonprofit raising money to build the site. Plans for the museum were drawn up by architect Robert A.M. Stern, designer of the Comcast Center in Center City; the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University in Philadelphia; the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.; the Disney Beach Club resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.; and the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
By Rob Capriccioso
To make that impact, tribal leaders on July 11 announced a major gift of $10 million dollars to the non-profit American Revolution Center in order to help build a Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The announcement came during a sunny ceremony on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building with dignitaries from OIN, officials affiliated with the Center, and U.S. legislators in attendance. The donation helps the Center come much closer to matching a $40 million Lenfest Foundation challenge announced in June.
“I’m pleased to report that we have still survived since the American Revolutionary War, as the allies of this country,” said Ray Halbritter, Nation Representative and CEO of the tribe, in a speech to the assembled audience. “None of this would have been possible if not for the fact that more than 200 years ago, the Oneida people took up arms in support of the colonial neighbors at the Battle of Oriskany.” He said the bloody battle formed the basis of an alliance that exists to this day between the Oneida and American people.
“There is an American Indian proverb that says, ‘Tell me the facts, and I’ll learn; tell me the truth, and I’ll believe; tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever. The American Revolutionary War Center will allow us to share our story with the world,” said Halbritter, who was later presented with an architectural drawing of the planned museum and a replica of a silver cup George Washington was said to have carried during the war. “The pledge we are making today will allow people to learn many stories that heretofore have been untold and have been unknown.”
Below: "Ray Halbritter, Nation Representative and CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises, addressed the assembled audience with Michael C. Quinn, president and CEO of the American Revolution Center, looking on as he announced the donation of $10 million to help build the Museum of The American Revolution on July 11." (Rob Capriccioso)