Burial Location Visited
Buffalo, New York April 18, 2010


Sagoyewatha, the famous Native                                                               Red Jacket was considered a
American known more commonly                                                              gifted orator and was praised
as Red Jacket, is one of several                                                                 for his intellect. He was a
people of note interred in Buffalo's                                                             member of the Seneca wolf
Forest Lawn Cemetery.                                                                             clan.


The Seneca leader's Native American name                                 Headstone of Sagoyewatha. His name is
translates as "he keeps them awake".                                         pronounced "Sa-Go-Ye-Wat-Ha".

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Called Otetiani during his youth, Red Jacket acquired his nickname during the Revolutionary War. The Seneca tribe, to which he belonged, reluctantly took part in the American Revolution, taking Great Britain's side. Though he participated in the conflict, Otetiani did little fighting and was actually regarded by many of his people as a coward, retreating and dodging battles on several occasions. (Otetiani once avoided a battle but smeared himself in the blood of a slaughtered cow, claiming it was the blood of a white man he had killed in the conflict. He was referred to by some as "cow killer", subsequently.) Generally, he only carried dispatches. Noting his intellect, a British officer presented the native with an embroidered red jacket, which Otetiani wore until it became so worn and tattered that he required a new one. Over time, many people began calling him Red Jacket rather than his given name, and the nickname simply stuck.

* When Red Jacket ascended to chief, his name, Otetiani, was replaced with Sagoyewatha, which means "he keeps them awake". His first public address took place in 1786, when he voiced his opposition to having peace with the white men and argued to continue hostilities with them. Red Jacket would later take a more conciliatory stance regarding whites, but continued to defend the culture and religion of his people.

* In 1792, Red Jacket was one of fifty Native Americans who traveled to Philadelphia to meet with government officials (including President George Washington) to discuss grievances and to negotiate matters. Red Jacket took the initiative during the meeting, and was one of the most outspoken natives. As a sign of admiration and trust, President Washington presented Red Jacket with a silver peace medal. The medal displayed Washington shaking hands with a Native American and listed the names of both parties, in addition to the year the meeting took place. Red Jacket wore the medal constantly, and can be seen wearing it in most paintings he is portrayed in.

* Chief Red Jacket continued to be a negotiator and witnessed the signings of more treaties between Native Americans and white Americans. He also continued to show his skills as a public speaker. In 1805, Red Jacket delivered what is perhaps his most famous oration, entitled "Red Jacket on the Religion of the White Man and the Red". The speech was a response to a New England pastor named Rev. Cram, who wished to do some mission work amongst a group of Senecas. In his speech, the chief proclaimed how Native Americans had shown friendship to the European colonists when they arrived, and how, in return, they took their land and killed the natives. He spoke about trying to preserve the culture and religion of his people, which would come into conflict with the mission work of the whites. It was yet another thing that would be forced upon Native Americans. "Brother," said Red Jacket, " we do not wish to destroy your religion or take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own."

* Though Red Jacket continued to have the support of the Seneca for many years, eventually their relationship collapsed. His wife and some of his stepchildren converted to Christianity, which obviously conflicted with his own views and undermined his work preventing the spread of Christianity amongst the Seneca. At some point, the chief took up drinking, and his reputation diminished immensely. Citing numerous reasons, his people removed him as chief in 1827, though he regained his title before long. Still, he never regained the influence he once had. After his passing in January of 1830, Red Jacket was laid to rest in the Old Mission Cemetery in Buffalo. However, a combination of neglect and souvenir hunters saw to it that the chief's grave fell into ruin. Eventually, his remains were dug up and reinterred in Forest Lawn. The towering monument there that honors him was erected in 1891.

Spouse: Wyashoh (      -      )
              ????????? (      -      )
              Degeney (      -      )

Last Words:
 "Where is the missionary?"

* No one knows exactly when Red Jacket was born. His grave says that he was 78 when he passed away in 1830, but some biographies state different years. One of his obituaries stated that he was 80 at the time he died.
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