Reclaiming Ohi:yo'- Restoring the Altered Landscape of the Beautiful River

The Legal Battle for Kinzua

In 1957 Congress appropriated funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct Kinzua Dam, thus beginning a legal battle between the Seneca Nation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. From 1957 to 1962 the Seneca Nation and allies to our Seneca people lobbied Congress to prevent Kinzua Dam from being constructed.

After it was announced that Kinzua Dam was to be built, President Cornelius hired Arthur E. Morgan as the Seneca Nation's chief engineer and adviser. ​Morgan collaborated with our Seneca people to create an alternative dam site and flood control plan, one that would not require the relocation of our Seneca communities on our Allegany Territory.

The Conewango Plan, devised by Morgan, would divert flood waters from Ohi:yo' through the Conewango basin and into Lake Erie. The Army Corps of Engineers dismissed the Conewango Plan.

In September of 1957 the Seneca Nation requested that an independent third party survey and study of the Kinzua Dam and Conewango Reservoir proposals be done to provide a second opinion. The report produced by the New York City firm Tipetts-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton firm supported the viewpoint of the Army Corps of Engineers that the Conewango Plan was not better than the Kinzua site plan.

On May 25, 1960 Congress passed an appropriations bill to construct the dam. Construction began later that year.


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