|Regions with significant populations|
|Christianity, traditional religion|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Seneca, Oneida, Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora|
The Tonawanda Seneca Nation (previously known as the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians) is a federally recognized tribe in the State of New York. They have maintained the traditional form of government led by sachems (hereditary Seneca chiefs) selected by clan mothers. The Seneca are one of the original Five Nations (later six) of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy. Their people speak the Seneca language, an Iroquoian language.
The Tonawanda Seneca Nation is one of two federally recognized Seneca tribes in Western New York; the other is the Seneca Nation of Indians. The latter approved a republican constitution in 1848, electing a council and executive officials to govern their lands of the Allegany, Cattaraugus and Oil Springs reservations.
The Tonawanda Band opted out of participating in the republic (in part due to hostilities stemming from the Buffalo Creek sale), leading to the band's formation nine years later. In 1857, the Tonawanda Band signed a treaty with the United States and was recognized as a tribe independent of the Seneca Nation of New York. The new treaty with the US allowed the Tonawanda Band to buy back lands from the Ogden Land Company, which had been sold out without their permission in the Treaties of Buffalo Creek. The Tonawanda retrieved the horns of authority and other artifacts from the other Seneca tribes and re-established a continuation of the traditional Seneca government that existed prior to 1848. They have a matrilineal kinship system; hereditary chiefs are selected through the maternal line by clan mothers.
In addition, some Seneca relocated to Indian Territory in the early 19th century; their descendants now form part of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation in present-day Oklahoma. The Cayuga people are another of the six Iroquois nations. In the 21st century, the majority of Seneca people live in Western New York. A small number live in Canada at the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation within Ontario; they are also descendants of the Keepers of the Western Door.
On 15 January 1838, the United States government entered into the Treaty of Buffalo Creek, with nine Indian nations of New York, including the Seneca. The treaty was part of the United States Indian Removal program, by which they forced Native American peoples from eastern states to move west of the Mississippi River to reservation lands in the less-desired and therefore less-settled Kansas Territory (now the state of Kansas and parts of Colorado). This govern removal also displaced the indigenous peoples of those areas. The US wanted the Seneca and other New York tribes to move there to free up desirable lands for the European-American colonists’ to take over and settle. Under the treaty, the US acknowledged that the Ogden Land Company was going to buy the four remaining Seneca reservations in New York, the proceeds funding the nation's removal to Kansas Territory.
The US modified the 1838 treaty with the Treaty with the Seneca of 1842. The new treaty reflected that the Ogden Land Company had purchased only two reservations, including the Tonawanda Reservation. The Seneca retained the Cattaraugus and Allegany reservations.At this time, the Seneca of the Tonawanda Reservation protested they had not been consulted on either treaty, nor had their chiefs signed either treaty. They refused to leave their reservation.
In 1848, the Seneca Indians of the Cattaraugus and Allegany reservations held a constitutional convention. They adopted a new form of constitution and government, including tribal popular election of chiefs. Traditionally, hereditary chiefs were selected by clan mothers and ruled for life (unless one displeased his clan mother.)
The Tonawanda Band did not want to make such changes, and thus seceded from the main Seneca nation in New York. They reorganized and re-established their traditional government with a council of chiefs representing each of their eight clans. In 1857, under the "Treaty with the Seneca, Tonawanda Band", the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians secured federal recognition as an independent Indian nation.With their share of proceeds from the earlier land sale, they bought back most of the Tonawanda Reservation.
Under their traditional government, hereditary chiefs typically served for life. They governed by a consensus of leaders of the clans, which formed the basis of the band. The Seneca and all the Iroquois peoples had a matrilineal kinship system, in which descent and property were passed through the maternal line. Children were considered born into the mother's clan and took their status from her people.
"The Tonawanda Band consists of eight 'clans': the Snipe, the Heron, the Hawk, the Deer, the Wolf, the Beaver, the Bear, and the Turtle. Each clan appoints a clan mother, who in turn appoints an individual to serve as Chief [from hereditary maternal lines]. The clan mother retains the power to remove a Chief and, in consultation with members of the clan, provides recommendations to the Chief on matters of tribal government. The clan mothers cannot disregard the views of the clan, nor can the Chiefs disregard the recommendations of the clan mothers."
The Tonawanda Indian Reservation is an Indian reservation of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation located in western New York, United States. The band is a federally recognized tribe and, in the 2010 census, had 693 people living on the reservation. The reservation lies mostly in Genesee County, extending into Erie and Niagara counties. It is bordered by the Towns of Alabama, Pembroke, Newstead, and Royalton.
Oil Springs Reservation or Oil Spring Reservation is an Indian reservation of the federally recognized Seneca Nation that is located in southwestern New York, United States. As of the 2010 census, the Indian reservation had one resident; in 2005 no tribal members had lived on the property. The reservation covers about one square mile (2.6 km2), divided between the present-day counties of Allegany and Cattaraugus. The reservation is northwest of the village of Cuba. It is bordered by the Town of Cuba and the Town of Ischua.
The Seneca are a group of Indigenous Iroquoian-speaking people native to who historically lived south of Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes in North America. Their nation was the farthest to the west within the Six Nations or Iroquois League (Haudenosaunee) in New York before the American Revolution.
The Cayuga was one of the five original constituents of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), a confederacy of Native Americans in New York. The Cayuga homeland lies in the Finger Lakes region along Cayuga Lake, between their league neighbors, the Onondaga to the east and the Seneca to the west. Today Cayuga people belong to the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation in Ontario, and the federally recognized Cayuga Nation of New York and the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma.
The economy of the Haudenosaunee historically was based on communal production and combined elements of both horticulture and hunter-gatherer systems. Some have described the Iroquois economy as primitive communism. The tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy and other Northern Huron had their traditional territory in what is now New York State and the southern areas bordering the Great Lakes. The confederacy was originally composed of five tribes; the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca, who had created an alliance long before European contact. The Tuscarora were added as a sixth nation in the early eighteenth century after they migrated from North Carolina. The Huron peoples, located mostly in what is now Canada, were also Iroquioan-speaking and shared some culture, but were never part of the Iroquois.
There are four treaties of Buffalo Creek, named for the Buffalo River in New York.
Tah-won-ne-ahs or Thaonawyuthe, known in English as either Governor Blacksnake or Chainbreaker, was a Seneca war chief and leader. Along with other Iroquois war chiefs, he led warriors to fight on the side of the British during the American Revolutionary War from 1777 to 1783. He was prominent for his role at the Battle of Oriskany, in which the Loyalist and allied forces ambushed a force of rebels. After the war he supported his maternal uncle Handsome Lake, as a prominent religious leader. Governor Blacksnake allied with the United States in the War of 1812 and later encouraged some accommodation to European-American settlers, allowing missionaries and teachers on the Seneca reservation.
The Buffalo Creek Reservation was a tract of land surrounding Buffalo Creek in the central portion of Erie County, New York. It contained approximately 49,920 acres (202.0 km2) of land and was set aside for the Seneca Nation following negotiations with the United States after the American Revolutionary War.
The Seneca–Cayuga Nation is one of three federally recognized tribes of Seneca people in the United States. It includes the Cayuga people and is based in Oklahoma, United States. The tribe had more than 5,000 people in 2011. They have a tribal jurisdictional area in the northeast corner of Oklahoma and are headquartered in Grove. They are descended from Iroquoian peoples who had relocated to Ohio from New York in the mid-18th century.
The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma is a federally recognized Native American tribe based in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. It is the largest of the three federally recognized Seminole governments, which include the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida. Its members are descendants of the 3,000 Seminoles who were forcibly removed from Florida to Indian Territory, along with 800 Black Seminoles, after the Second Seminole War. The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma is headquartered in Wewoka within Seminole County, Oklahoma. Of 18,800 enrolled tribal members, 13,533 live within the state of Oklahoma. The tribe began to revive its government in 1936 under the Indian Reorganization Act. While its reservation was originally larger, today the tribal jurisdictional area covers Seminole County, Oklahoma, within which it has a variety of properties.
Sanford Plummer (Ga-yo-gwa-doke) (1905–1974) (Seneca) was a Native American narrative watercolor painter from New York state. He painted works portraying traditional life and culture of the Seneca and people of other Iroquois nations. His works are held by the Iroquois Indian Museum, as well as Buffalo Museum of Science, Rochester Museum and Science Center, and the Newark Museum.
The Seneca Nation of Indians is a federally recognized Seneca tribe based in western New York. They are one of three federally recognized Seneca entities in the United States, the others being the Tonawanda Band of Seneca and the Seneca-Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma. Some Seneca also live with other Iroquois peoples on the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario.
The Seneca mission, sometimes called the Buffalo Creek mission, was a Christian mission to the Seneca people living in and around the Buffalo Creek Reservation in western New York. It was maintained, by several leaders and under the supervision of numerous missionary societies, from the early to mid-19th century. Some Seneca people accepted the mission; others, including Red Jacket and his followers, were strenuously opposed. Missionaries affiliated with the Seneca mission, including Asher Wright, transcribed the Seneca language into the Roman alphabet and printed Christian literature in Seneca.
Treaty of Big Tree was a formal treaty signed in 1797 between the Seneca Nation and the United States, in which the Seneca relinquished their rights to nearly all of their traditional homeland in New York State—nearly 3.5 million acres. In the 1788 Phelps and Gorham Purchase, the Iroquois had previously sold rights to their land between Seneca Lake and the Genesee River. The Treaty of Big Tree signed away their rights to all their territory west of the Genesee River except ten small tracts of land for $100,000 and other considerations. The money was not paid directly to the tribe, but was to be invested in shares of the Bank of the United States, and to be paid out to the Senecas in annual earnings of up to six percent, or $6,000 a year, on the bank stock.
Fellows v. Blacksmith, 60 U.S. 366 (1857), is a United States Supreme Court decision involving Native American law. John Blacksmith, a Tonawanda Seneca, sued agents of the Ogden Land Company for common law claims of trespass, assault, and battery after he was forcibly evicted from his sawmill by the Company's agents. The Court affirmed a judgement in Blacksmith's favor, notwithstanding the fact that the Seneca had executed an Indian removal treaty and the Company held the exclusive right to purchase to the land by virtue of an interstate compact ratified by Congress.
New York ex rel. Cutler v. Dibble, 62 U.S. 366 (1858), was a companion case to the more well-known Fellows v. Blacksmith (1857). At the time Fellows was decided, this case had reached the U.S. Supreme Court but had not yet been argued.
Samuel George was an influential Onondaga Indian chief, holding the title Hononwirehdonh, or "Great Wolf" for twenty-three years. He served in the War of 1812 and was a renowned healer and orator among Indians and whites. Modern-day historian Laurence Hauptman describes George as an Iroquoian conservative who supported traditional Iroquoian ceremonies, language, and land rights, but also allowed missionaries and schools on the reservation.
The Third Treaty of Buffalo Creek or Treaty with the Seneca of 1842 signed by the U.S. and the Seneca Nation modified the Second Treaty of Buffalo Creek. This reflected that the Ogden Company had purchased only two of the four Seneca reservations, the Buffalo Creek and Tonawanda reservations, that the Senecas had agreed to sell in the Second Treaty; it thus restored native title to the Allegany, Cattaraugus and Oil Springs reservations.
The Fourth Treaty of Buffalo Creek or Treaty with the Seneca, Tonawanda Band is a modification of the Second Treaty of Buffalo Creek and Third Treaty of Buffalo Creek.
Asher Wright was an American Presbyterian missionary, who worked among the people of the Seneca Nation, of the native Iroquois of the northeastern United States from 1831 to 1875. His most notable work was the extensive translation and linguistics work he did among the Seneca people. Asher and his wife Laura Maria Sheldon were based in the Seneca mission on the Buffalo Creek Reservation. After 1845, they relocated along with the Buffalo Creek Seneca to the Cattaraugus Resvervation following the sale of Buffalo Creek to developers from the Ogden Company. Alongside their missionary and ministry work, the Wrights recorded the Seneca language and culture. Integral to their work was the education of the Seneca people, especially teaching literacy to the people in their own language. In 1855 they founded the Thomas Asylum for Orphan and Destitute Children, later named the Thomas Indian School.