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Caleb Abrams, '12Caleb Abrams, '12, is one of a group of documentary filmmakers working to ensure that the events that forced the Seneca people from Kinzua, Pa. are not forgotten. He's a Seneca and the associate producer for Lake of Betrayal: The Story of Kinzua Dam, which is set to be released this year and will air on PBS stations nationwide. Production on the documentary began in 2014. Abrams has been deeply involved in the film's production, having worked as a research assistant during pre-production to identify interview subjects, archives to research, and locations to film. As the associate producer, he's been on location for almost all of the film's shoots in the Allegany Territory. 

A description of the documentary from Toward Castle Films says:

On Seneca Nation Territory, the Allegheny River widens into an expansive man-made lake that stretches 24 miles through the foothills across the New York State border into Pennsylvania. It was created in 1965 when the Kinzua Dam in Warren, Pa. was built to protect the City of Pittsburgh from floods that had ravaged the area for decades. Before construction on the dam could begin, the federal government and the US Army Corp of Engineers had to force the removal of people living along the river and take their lands. But the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794, one of the first accords signed by the US government, had preserved much of the land needed for the project for the Senecas. Despite a decade of court battles and an alternate flood-control plan, the Army Corps of Engineers took one-third of the Seneca Territory in breach of the Treaty. Ten thousand acres of hunting and fishing grounds were inundated and homes, churches, schools, and burial grounds were lost, forever altering the Seneca way of life. A 50-year license for the hydropower operations, which generates annual revenues of $13 million dollars, was given to FirstEnergy Corp of Akron, Ohio. That license is set to expire in November 2015. In 2010, the Seneca Nation submitted its Notification of Intent and Pre-Application Document, the first two steps in the regulatory process of applying for the license to operate the Seneca Project upon the expiration of the original license. Lake of Betrayal tells the story of loss, displacement, hope and survival as the film explores the effects on the Seneca Nation resulting from the construction of Kinzua Dam while exploring their current efforts to assume hydropower operations of Kinzua.

Working with Abrams on the documentary are Scott Sackett, the film's producer, and director Paul Lamont. "Lake of Betrayal" has roots in the 1980s, when Lamont worked on "Honorable Nations," a PBS documentary about Seneca land rights. That documentary briefly touched on the Kinzua Dam, and the duo felt it deserved more attention.

Abrams earned a degree in individual studies from JCC and went on to Syracuse University, where he is set to graduate in May 2016 with degrees in sociology and Native American studies. For more information about the project, click here to read an article from The Bradford Era.

Posted: 
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 9:48am
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