BUFFALO, N.Y. — A historic Seneca Nation artifact has finally returned home to Western New York forever.

It's a pipe tomahawk that was given to Seneca Nation Chief Cornplanter by George Washington in 1792.

The New York State Museum in Albany housed the artifact from about 1850 until 1947. That was the year it was stolen from the museum, and it was at least three years before anyone noticed it was gone. 

During the next 70 years it was sold several times on the black market. In 2018, it finally came to light again.

Through the years, the relic was used by many leaders, both Seneca and American, as a sort of "handshake" to seal treaties.

Seneca Nation says it's proud to be the relic's permanent home.

"It's monumental. It's our identity, that tomahawk. Cornplanter defended our sovereignty. He was one of our most respected leaders. And it was a gift given to him from President Washington, so it's an important artifact for our history," said Seneca Nation president Rickey Armstrong Sr.

That tomahawk is now on display at the cultural center on West Hetzel Street in Salamanca.

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