Lafayette’s Hermione Voyage 2015 to Highlight Oneida Indian Nation’s Revolutionary Role in the Birth of the U.S.

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A unique traveling exhibit featuring an exact replica of General Lafayette’s 18th Century tall ship, the “Hermione,” sets sail along the East Coast this summer. During its stops, the exhibit will spotlight the Oneida Nation’s remarkable contributions to the American Revolution and long-standing ties of friendship with the French and the Marquis de Lafayette.

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The Oneida Nation has a deeply intertwined history with America’s earliest settlers as this country’s first ally. We are very grateful to events and experiences like this which introduce a whole new generation to our role in the American Revolution.

Communities along the East Coast of the United States will receive an unforgettable history lesson this summer as Lafayette’s Hermione Voyage 2015, a traveling exhibit and authentic replica of General Lafayette’s ship, sets sail with stops in a dozen port cities. The two-month tour, filled with cultural events, exhibitions, and educational programs, highlight America’s early ties with France, celebrate the spirit of the Marquis de Lafayette, and strengthen the understanding of the American Revolution and the crucial involvement of the Oneida Indian Nation.

The Hermione traveled 3,819 miles across the Atlantic to land in Yorktown, Pennsylvania, earlier this month. The ship’s tour will also include stops in Mount Vernon, VA, Alexandria, VA, Annapolis, MD, Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA, New York, NY, Greenport, NY, Newport, RI, Boston, MA, Castine, ME, and Lunenburg, NS before returning to its home in France.

Visitors can enjoy tours of the vessel, historic shipbuilding crafts demonstrations, interactive conversations with the young volunteer sailors, cultural activities, concerts featuring contemporary and period music, and food and craft exhibitions. A traveling photography exhibit covering the 17 years of the Hermione’s reconstruction will be available and free to the public in each port, with companion exhibits at the New-York Historical Society, the National Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C., and the Boston Athenæum.

The Oneida Indian Nation will participate in Lafayette’s Hermione Voyage events in Philadelphia during the Tall Ships Festival at Penn’s Landing on June 25 and 26. Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter will be among the opening ceremony’s guest speakers, and Oneida members will also participate as event re-enactors. The Oneida Nation will also take part during the ship’s New York City activities July 1 – 4 at South Street Seaport, Pier 15.

“This is a truly unique initiative underscoring the importance of a friendship forged in the early years of our country’s revolutionary birth, demonstrating that cooperation and solidarity across ethnic, cultural and class divides can bear fruit for generations to come,” said Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation Representative and Oneida Nation Enterprises CEO. “Centuries after the time of my ancestors and Lafayette, this lesson remains as relevant as ever. My hope is that this bicentennial celebration of Hermione’s historic voyage reminds us all about the ancient value of cooperation - and why it was crucial not only to the founding of this great country, but is also critical to its future.”

The assistance France provided the U.S. can be traced back to the friendship the Oneidas forged with Lafayette in 1778. At George Washington’s request, Lafayette asked the Oneidas if they would send a large party of warriors to Valley Forge to help with scouting work, and to gather intelligence about British forces occupying the city. Approximately 50 Oneida warriors, along with some Tuscaroras, arrived at Valley Forge on May 15, 1778. Once in camp the Oneidas met George Washington and then were assigned to reconnaissance under the command of Lafayette. Lafayette led 2,200 troops out of Valley Forge with Oneida scouts at the fore. The troop crossed the Schuylkill River and camped a few miles north of Philadelphia at Barren Hill.

On May 20, the British attacked from several directions. Thanks in part to valiant help from Oneida scouts, Lafayette and his troops were able to escape back across the Schuylkill. The Oneida efforts delayed action while the main force retreated, thus playing a crucial role in stopping the rapidly advancing British from overrunning Lafayette’s force and causing extensive casualties. Approximately six Oneida were lost in the fight while Lafayette only reported a few losses. Had the Oneidas not ventured out on their mission, the American army would likely have lost nearly one fifth of its troops.

From the Nation’s own Shako:wi Cultural Center filled with items from the Oneida's rich past to pledging $10 million to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, the Oneida Nation continues its consistent efforts to maintain the legacy of its own and other tribes. The Nation has also become allies of the American Revolution Center, the first national museum commemorating the entire story of the American Revolution. It is set to open in Philadelphia in 2017.

“The Oneida Nation has a deeply intertwined history with America’s earliest settlers as this country’s first ally,” said Halbritter. “We are very grateful to events and experiences like this which introduce a whole new generation to our role in the American Revolution and underscore the resilience displayed by our people and by America’s founding fathers.”

About the Oneida Indian Nation

The Oneida Indian Nation is a federally recognized Indian nation in Central New York. A founding member of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (also known as the Six Nations or Iroquois Confederacy), the Oneida Indian Nation sided with the Americans in the Revolutionary War and was thanked by Congress and President George Washington for its loyalty and assistance. Today, the Oneida Nation consists of about 1,000 enrolled Members, most of them living in Central New York. The Nation’s enterprises, which employ 4,500 people, include Turning Stone Resort Casino and the recently opened Yellow Brick Road Casino, the SāvOn chain of gas stations and convenience stores, RV Park, three marinas, Indian Country Today Media Network – the premier national multi-media source for American Indian news and information, and Four Directions Productions - a 3D animation HD cinematography studio. Proceeds from these enterprises are used to rebuild the Nation’s economic base and provide essential services, including housing, health care, and education incentives and programs, to its Members.

For more information, visit the Nation’s website

About Lafayette’s Hermione Voyage 2015

Twenty years ago, a small group dreamed of reconstructing an exact replica of General Lafayette’s 18th-century ship called the Hermione. Today, the majestic vessel is the largest and most authentically built Tall Ship in the last 150 years. The Hermione has set sail in France, launching an adventure that comes to the USA in the summer of 2015 for an unprecedented voyage. Among the mission of the voyage is to create a lasting educational legacy, which will be accessible to generations of young Americans to come. Joining the Oneida Indian Nation as partners in this exhibit are the National Parks Service, Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route – National Historic Trail, Living Classrooms, Global Philadelphia Association, the Museum of the American Revolution among many others.

For more information, visit Hermione at

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Joel Barkin
Oneida Indian Nation
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