The annual distribution of annuity cloth from the U.S. government to enrolled members of the Seneca Nation of Indians begins Friday in Buffalo.
The unbleached muslin cloth is handed out annually "as a sign of good faith the treaty is in force," according to Midge Dean Stock, director of the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca.
The treaty cloth is given in exchange for some land taken from the Senecas. The treaty signed in 1794 between the United States and the Iroquois Confederacy is known as the Pickering Treaty. It is remembered each year with a celebration held on Veterans Day in Canandaigua.
The cloth will be given out between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the tribe's Buffalo office at Suite 89 in the Statler Towers Building at 109 Delaware Ave.
Two other distributions will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 28 on tribal reservations: at the William Seneca Building on the Cattaraugus Reservation at Irving and at the Genevieve R. Plummer Building on the Allegany Reservation at Jimersontown.
Stock said Senecas receive one-half yard per person a year, which she has used to line items she crafts such as beaded wallets and tote bags.
Often families that receive larger amounts of the cloth have used it for furniture and window coverings. The muslin is also used by many Native Americans to line their dance costumes.
Long ago, the muslin was more colorful, often issued in calico prints and with small flowers.