- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2002

The contributions of forgotten patriots during the American Revolution is celebrated in an exhibition that opens today at the Daughters of the American Revolution Headquarters and Museum in Northwest.
The exhibition, "Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Service in the Revolutionary War 1775-1783," illuminates, in many cases for the first time, the varied roles that blacks and American Indians played in the fight for independence.
For those whose ancestors fought side by side with the Colonists to defeat the British, inclusion in the exhibition touches their hearts and demonstrates the DAR's efforts to recognize the contributions of other nationalities and minorities during the Revolution.
"It's a special feeling for the Oneida People today to be recognized by the DAR for the efforts of our ancestors. My ancestors vowed to share in the fruits of victory or be buried in the same common grave as the Colonists," said Brian Patterson, Bear Clan representative for the governing body of the Oneida Indian Nation in Oneida, N.Y., 30 miles east of Syracuse.
Mr. Patterson, 39, flew here from New York with members of the Oneida Nation to attend last night's exhibition kickoff gala in the O'Byrne Gallery at the museum, where he presented several "priceless artifacts" from the Oneida Nation to be placed on display. He said one of the artifacts a silver pipe belonged to the most famous Revolutionary War leader, Oneida Chief Oskanondonha (aka Skenandoa).
Mr. Patterson said the collaboration between the DAR and the Oneida Nation is special because there was a time when no one wanted to hear what the Oneida People had to say.
"For the past 200 years, we have been living a legacy of a forgotten people. The efforts of the DAR to recognize the Oneida People and our contributions will preserve our place in history and in the future. For that, the Oneida People will remain grateful to the DAR," Mr. Patterson said.
Linda Tinker Watkins, president-general of the DAR, said "Forgotten Patriots" is an extension of where the organization has been headed for the past 20 years. She said the DAR published a pamphlet two decades ago on the forgotten patriots.
She said she is ecstatic about the museum's newest exhibit and hopes it raises the awareness of Americans.
"For the past 20 years, the DAR has been working to undercover and document minority participation in the American Revolution. With this exhibition, we pay tribute to the thousands of revolutionary patriots who long have been overlooked. By highlighting present-day descendants of some of these patriots, we hope that others will be inspired to look into their own family histories," said Mrs. Watkins.
Five 10-foot-tall walls lead visitors through the exhibit. Each wall is inscribed with the names of the thousands of black and American Indian men and women who contributed to the patriotic cause.
The legacy of the Forgotten Patriots features photographs and documents from descendants of Nero Hawley, a slave who received his freedom for his service in the war and later became a brick maker; Charles Lewis, who served as a soldier and seaman in Virginia; and James Armistead Lafayette, a slave from New Kent County, Va., who served the Marquis de Lafayette near Portsmouth and Yorktown and as a double agent in the camps of British Gens. Arnold and Cornwallis.
A portrait of Agrippa Hull, a free black man who served as an orderly for Polish nobleman Gen. Thaddeus Kosciusko, Gen. Washington's chief engineer, is on display through summer.
"This exhibition is very good and I commend the DAR for taking this leadership role. I'm counting on them to continue to move forward," said Mark Gresham, executive director of the Black Patriots Foundation in Northwest.
Mr. Gresham, 45, said Mrs. Watkins is publicly and privately committed to expanding the DAR's relationship with the black community and with the Black Patriots Foundation.
"The exhibit about the Forgotten Patriots is needed and it's something that is a beginning conversation. I'm hoping the recognition by the DAR signals to all Americans that it is time we take a close look at our true history," Mr. Gresham said.
"In history books in schools, in common generational conversations, the role of blacks and other minorities in this country have been marginalized. For the development of a diverse society, the true nature of where we've come from is vital to where our future will take us," Mr. Gresham said.


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