Tonawanda News

December 15, 2013

Flames Through Lewiston to shine on Tuscarora monument

Staff reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The War of 1812’s British attack on Lewiston is coming to vivid life on Thursday.

More than 150 volunteer reenactors, from both sides of the border, will recreate the Dec. 19, 1813, attack during this year’s “Flames Through Lewiston” event — which also features the unveiling of the Tuscarora Heroes Monument.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the actual 200th anniversary of the attack. “Fleeing” local citizens will run down Center Street as invading British Redcoats and natives take on defending American militia and members of the Tuscarora Nation.

According to organizers, The Tuscarora Nation has never been thanked for their heroic efforts in saving American lives during the 1813 British invasion, and the new monument will stand as a testament of thanksgiving to the Tuscarora Nation.

The monument is a tableau of three large bronze sculptures depicting men from the Tuscarora Nation saving a local woman and child who are running for their lives and is the largest War of 1812 bicentennial monument project in the U.S.

“This is about a forgotten moment, in a forgotten war, that will never be forgotten again,” said Lee Simonson, volunteer director for the project for the Historical Association of Lewiston.

The larger than life size bronze sculptures were created and produced by Lewiston resident, Susan Geissler. It is located at a prominent intersection at Portage Road and Center Street.

The monument site is filled with symbolism. The actual sculptures are standing on a platform shaped like a turtle, a sacred symbol of the Iroquois who believe the earth was created on a turtle’s back. The turtle’s back has 13 large scales representing 13 full moons during the year, surrounded by 28 smaller scales representing the 28 days of the lunar monthly cycle. The turtle’s head is pointed to the American flag, representing the alliance between the U.S. and the Tuscarora Nation since the American Revolution.

Six northern white pine trees represent the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and the Iroquois flag will be permanently flown next the American flag used during the War of 1812 that had 15 stars and 15 stripes (the Star-Spangled Banner.) Below the flags, are 15 clusters of grass.

Security cameras, doubling as webcams, broadcast live images from site 24/7 and enable visitors to call friends back home to view them in real-time.

A time capsule entombed in the monument on Oct. 16, 2013, contained items and letters submitted by the Tuscarora Nation Elementary School students, along with materials and letters from the Historical Association of Lewiston. The capsule is intended to be opened in two hundred years on the Quadricentennial of the Tuscarora Heroes action in 2213.

On Thursday, direct descendants of the Tuscarora Heroes will be wearing corn-husk pins on their coats. Those attending the unveiling event are encouraged to thank the descendants for the Tuscarora Nation’s friendship and guardianship for over 200 years.

The free event is open to the public and spectators are reminded to dress warm, since the program will go on regardless of weather conditions. The actual Flames Through Lewiston reenactment will only last 12 minutes, so once the action starts, things will move very quickly.  

Five large fires will be burning down the middle of Center Street thanks to the contributed efforts of Wendt’s Propane. The monument will be unveiled at 11 minutes into the reenactment.

The Best vantage point will be from the Subway sidewalk and parking lot at Portage and Center streets. There will also be areas open to the public on Portage Road, near the Hibbard’s parking lot as well. The best parking will be on local side streets.

The monument area will be opened to the public immediately after the unveiling. Artist Geissler will be there to greet visitors, along with Tuscarora leaders, First Nations reenactors, and local officials.

Those who are unable to make it to the event, can listen to the program in real-time on the phone. At 6:30 p.m. listeners can call 1-206-402-0821 and put in passcode 775-5327#.  While listening on the phone, the unveiling will also be broadcast live on the Internet at www.historiclewiston.org/tuscaroraheroeswebcam.html.