Seneca Indians demonstrating technique used in winter fish drives.

Kinzua means “fish on a spear” in the Seneca-Iroquois language.  The Cornplanter band of Seneca held great annual fish drives on the Allegheny River.  In the summer, men built a V-shaped fence, or weir, across the river. They forced the fish into the weir with a giant rake, which was pulled toward the weir by horses on opposite shores. Waiting fishermen speared the trapped fish, perhaps the reasoning behind the naming of "Kinzua" Lake.

In the winter, fish drives consisted of some Senecas forming a line across the frozen river, with them holding a pole or stick, and banging it on the frozen ice, as they walked towards a couple of other Senecas that were waiting downstream, with a hole cut out of the ice, and a blanket over their heads to totally cut off the sunlight, so that they could see clearly into the water, and a spear in there hand, as they would spear the fish as they swam by.

Information and photo obtained from the Allegany State Park Historical Society.

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