Q&A with Reenactor Jeremy Turner

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Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 marks the 240th anniversary of the Delaware Treaty. Negotiations for the treaty took place at Fort Pitt in 1778, resulting in the first-ever treaty between the newly formed United States and an American Indian nation.

To commemorate the treaty’s anniversary, the Fort Pitt Museum will host special living history demonstrations and reenactments presented by museum staff, volunteers, and members of the Delaware Tribe.

In preparation for this special program, we talked to reenactor Jeremy Turner about living history and its importance in educating the public about the lives of his American Indian ancestors who once called the Ohio River Valley home. Turner will travel to Pittsburgh this month to help tell the story of the Delaware Treaty to mark its 240th anniversary.

Photo by Robert Hunter.

Fort Pitt Museum: What does it mean to be a reenactor? 

Jeremy Turner: For me, the term reenactor embodies someone who does his or her absolute best at recreating a particular person from a certain period in history, to educate both themselves and others about a particular time, place, and person in history.

FPM: How did you get started as a reenactor?

JT: I have always been interested in the history and lifeways of early contact period Eastern Woodland Native Americans. Growing up as a hunter/trapper/fisherman, I was always intrigued by how historical tribal members made a living by doing those things. As a teenager, I began researching historic hunting/trapping/fishing techniques used by the Woodland tribes, and in particular, the equipment they used in the 18th century to accomplish those pursuits.

I heard about “Rendezvous” in Friendship, Ind., where other folks with similar interests went, so I attended a few and got hooked. This led me to more researching and reading period journals, documents, and treaty negotiations, and attending the Eastern Woodland Indian Conferences put on by Fort Pitt Museum director Alan Gutchess. During these conferences, I met more folks that shared my passion for history and began attending living history programs with them.

FPM: What do you enjoy most about it?

JT: What I enjoy most is getting to learn more about the material culture that had an impact on my ancestors’ way of life and getting to share that knowledge with my wife and children. You can actually experience what it felt like to be out in the woods hunting and using the same tools they used in the 1700s.

Turner Family

FPM: What’s your favorite era in history to reenact?

JT: My favorite time period to reenact is from 1700–1812. This is when my ancestors lived in the Ohio River Valley, and this is the area that I enjoy spending my time in.

FPM: How do you prepare for a living history program?

JT: To prepare for a living history program, I will spend time re-reading journals, documents, and treaties related to the event we are going to portray. I also spend time going over my…

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