Washington and Gist visit Queen Aliquippa by John Rogers (1856). Image Credit: Mid-Manhattan Library/WikiCommons.

By Amy-Jane Humphries

Alliquippa was a prominent leader of the Seneca nation for at least a decade before her death in December 1754. Her origins are obscure, and the stories of her life are contradictory, but it is thought she was born sometime between the late 1670s and early 1680s.

It is thought that both her father and partner also held prominent positions within the wider Iroquois confederacy of which the Seneca were part. Alliquippa’s place within an important lineage undoubtedly allowed her access to power and respect within her community.

By the late 1740s, she was already considered elderly by observers who visited Alliquippa and her people in Pennsylvania. Therefore, it could be that wisdom and experience played a part in Alliquippa’s rise to prominence. Her loyalty to and alliance with the British also helped.

In 1753, Alliquippa was visited by Lieutenant Colonel George Washington of the Colonial Army. He was returning from a meeting with the French who had holed up in the Ohio River Valley. Though he came with a formal request that they leave, the French had no intention of doing so.

Alliquippa famously rebuked Washington for not visiting her on the journey up to Fort Le Boeuf but he was soon forgiven when he presented her with gifts. The social misstep on Washington’s part did not damage the standing of the British with Alliquippa, however.

In 1754, Alliquippa travelled with some thirty families to Fort Necessity where it was hoped that they would safe. It was there, though, that the French and Indian War broke out. It was Washington’s only surrender in his military career and the Seneca were forced to evacuate.

Alliquippa and her people retreated to the safety of the Aughwick Valley where they were under English protection. It was there that she died that December at Fort Shirley. Her son, Kanuksusky, outlived her by just two years. He died of smallpox in November 1756.

Recommended Reading

Irene Carstairs, “Damn, Girl – Aliquippa,” accessed 24 July 2021

R. Hilliard, “Queen Aliquippa; A history,” Milestones 21.3 (1996), accessed 24 July 2021

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