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Native Things

Ögwe’öwe:ka:’ is a Seneca-language word meaning, roughly, “Native Things.” This project is meant to be a sampler of “Native things” from the RMSC’s collectons, with an emphasis on Iroquois items of all sorts.


Ögwe’öwe:ka:’ - A Native American Sampler was a 2007-2008 project funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) to digitize selected Haudenosaunee and other Native American related materials housed at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, and to make these digitized images publicly available through the RMSC online catalog ( Although the NYSCA funding has ended, RMSC is dedicated to continuing this project in order to provide a rich and deep documentation of the Native American presence in Western New York.

Collections Included

A total of 2,100 items from the RMSC collections have been included in LibCat as part of this project. Each one has been catalogued individually and has its own page in the LibCat system, and nearly all of them have one or more accompanying photographs or scans.


Two hundred eighteen snapshots, photographs, and postcards from the Freeman C. Johnson collection were digitized and catalogued for this project. These images range from formal to informal settings, and often depict Chief Johnson and others wearing traditional Seneca or Plains-style dress. They document the life, activities, and values of this important Native American statesman.

Additionally, 813 photographic negatives from the RMSC Anthropology Department, many of them glass plates, were selected, scanned, and catalogued for this project. This collection includes photographs taken by Dr. Arthur C. Parker and others dating from the first decades of the twentieth century, often depicting scenes, activities, and people on New York Indian Reservations. Also included in the collection are scenes at archaeological excavations conducted by the Rochester Museum of Arts & Sciences, and objects from the museum’s collection as well as from those of other archaeologists. Yet others depict exhibits, dioramas, and models at the Rochester Museum and the New York State Museum.


The 363 items in the Freeman C. Johnson Archives were individually digitized and catalogued for this project. Included are handwritten and typescript manuscripts, published works, notes, and memorabilia. In all cases except for the published works, each page is digitized individually and available in LibCat, so that it is possible to read entire documents with ease. The finding aid to the archive has also been digitized and is available online.


Two hundred fifty items of the thousands of pieces in the Indian Arts Project (IAP) were selected for the Ögwe’öwe:ka:’ project and are searchable in LibCat. The IAP was the brainchild of Dr. Arthur C. Parker and, as a WPA program, employed Native American artists and artisans primarily from the Tonawanda and Cattaraugus Reservations to create items that reflected many of the forms, materials, and motifs of traditional and contemporary Native American culture.

Featured in the selection of IAP objects now available in LibCat are 117 paintings by Seneca artist Ernie Smith. The RMSC collection contains over 300 of his oils and watercolors that form a unique body of work that illustrates a wide variety of traditional lifeways, activities, stories, myths, and legends. These beloved works are some of the most utilised and requested items in the RMSC’s Ethnology collection.

Also included in this project are the 92 Ethnology items from the Freeman C. Johnson Collection, comprising clothing and personal accessories, many of which are actually depicted in photographs in the Freeman C. Johnson archives, as well as raw materials and tools used by Chief Johnson to create many of the items in the collection.

The Lewis Henry Morgan Ethnology Collection is an extremely important group of items collected by this important pioneering American Anthropologist. A large portion of it derives from various Iroquois groups, but there are also items collected by Morgan from a number of the Native American groups encountered by Lewis and Clark in their famous exploration of America west of the Mississippi. One hundred forty-seven pieces from this collection were selected for inclusion in LibCat.

Finally, there are 216 items from the RMSC’s Iroquois Ethnology collection, most of which date from the mid-nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries.


We hope that the “Native things” selected, digitised, and catalogued, and now searchable in LibCat, will provide you with a useful introduction to the wide variety of fascinating and irreplaceable materials preserved in the RMSC’s collections, and will whet your appetite for more. We are continuing to work to add more and more materials from our collections to LibCat through projects like Ögwe’öwe:ka:’.

For a start, here are some interesting things that you can search in LibCat. Each is a link that, when clicked will open a new window with some amazing things from our collections!

For questions & comments about the project, please contact:

Kathryn Murano, Registrar • 585-271-4552 x329

Project Staff

Project Manager:

Pat Maxwell

Web Interface Team:

Lea Kemp, Pat Maxwell, Kathryn Murano, Gian Carlo Cervone

Thesaurus Team:

Terry Abrams, Janet Duff, Judy Harrington, Lea Kemp, Pat Maxwell, Kathryn Murano, Gian Carlo Cervone

Database, Thesaurus, and Web Interface Design & Programming:

Gian Carlo Cervone


Judy Harrington, Janet Duff

Content Experts:

Terry Abrams, Jamie Jacobs, Dr. Betty Prisch, Tom Richens, Gian Carlo Cervone


Claire Franek, Pat Maxwell, Nancy Rosenberg, Maryann White


Morgan Callahan, Gayle Hao, Kristin Konecki, Tom Pelillo, Carl Scachetti, Kate Serpa, Geoffrey Stein, Matt Walker


Museum Photographics, Sam Collins, Chris Corey, Lauren Silverstein

Ernie Smith Large-Format Scanning:

Elizabeth diVincenzo, Joe Dolson, Shannon Gates, Melinda Lull

Graphics Processing & Editing

Terry Abrams, Ken Bello, Mary Catherine Roche, Robyn Laird, Geoffrey Stein, Matt Walker

Research Assistants:

Gregory Foster, Kendall Hudson, Teresa Law, Jennifer Morton

Native American Consultants

Perry Ground, Evelyn Jonathan, Tonawanda Band of Senecas Council of Chiefs, Chief Emerson Webster

Educational Advisory Team:

Joan Brown, Janet Oaks, Claire Franek, Robyn Laird

New York State Museum Liaison

Penelope Drooker


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