Lake of Betrayal

Released: 10/28/2017

Lake of Betrayal

On Seneca Nation Territory, the Allegheny River widens into an expansive man-made lake that stretches 27 miles through the foothills across the New York State border into Pennsylvania.  It was created in 1965 when the Kinzua Dam in Warren, Pennsylvania 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 Seneca.  Despite five years 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 fertile bottom lands were inundated and homes, churches, schools, and burial grounds were lost, forever altering the Seneca way of life.  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.

Production for Lake of Betrayal began in 2014. The film was released to PBS stations nationwide in November, 2017.

This program is produced by Toward Castle Films and Skipping Stone Pictures and is a presentation of Vision Maker Media with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The producers also gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the following individual donors:

Dorrance Amorine


Lee Bennett

Donna Bentkowski

Becky Burns

Bradley Kemick

Justin Laing

Deborah Lanni

Christopher Leonard

Donielle Lovell – In Memory of David G. Heron

Rebecca Lyon

Joseph Mangione

Carol Nephew

Ralph Panaro

Regina Parot

Linda Rabineau

Keith Reed

Tanya Reuscher

Dereka Rushbrook