The Six Nations of the Iroquois
The Onondaga Nation
The Onondaga Indian Nation is about five miles south
of Syracuse. The 1,475 people enrolled on the reservation call themselves
Haudenosaunee, which means "people of the Longhouse.''
The reservation sits on about 7,300 acres.
There are 14 chiefs -- selected by clan mothers --
in the tribal government. There is also one head chief.
The Grand Council meets on the reservation. The
council is a traditional meeting of all of the nations of the Confederacy.
There are no industries on the reservation, and
employment figures are unavailable.
A health clinic there includes facilities for
laboratory testing, pediatrics, gynecology, obstetrics, and general medical
care. There also is a dental clinic.
The reservation has housed a volunteer fire
department since 1951.
There is school for students in kindergarten through
eighth-grade. Most high-school-age students attend public high schools in
non-Native American communities.
Native American history credits Hiawatha, or
Ayawentha, who was an Onondagan exile, with helping to bring a ``Great
Peace'' which formed the confederacy sometime between the years 900 and
The Onondagas are the confederacy's Keepers of the
The Oneida Nation
The Oneidas have a 32-acre reservation south of the
city of Oneida in Madison County. That reservation is the smallest among the
The 32 acres are all that remain of the some 6
million acres in New York state which once belonged to their ancestors.
About 40 of the 630 people in the Oneida Nation live
on this reservation.
Most of the remaining members live about 30 miles
away on the Onondaga Nation, south of Syracuse.
For 12 years, the Oneidas did not have a federally
recognized status because of leadership conflicts.
Recognition was granted to the traditionalist
faction in 1987 by Ross O. Swimmer, assistant secretary in the Bureau of
Also in 1987, the first Longhouse in 150 years was
built on the Oneida territory.
Known as the People of the Standing Stone, the
Oneidas got their name because a legend said wherever the Oneida people
moved, a stone would appear and give directions.
Until the Oneidas are united, the legend says, the
stone will not direct them.
The Seneca Nation
When the Iroquois Confederacy was formed in about
1575, the location of the five originating tribes made an east to west
The leaders saw their configuration symbolically as
a long house with an east and west door and a central fire.
The Seneca tribe is the keeper of the western door.
The Seneca Nation has 5,400 members living in the
Allegheny River valley in Western New York.
The Senecas once owned half of New York and now hold
title to 52,100 acres divided into three reservations: the Allegany, the
Cattaraugus and Oil Springs Reservation.
The Seneca Nation is the only tribe to own a U.S.
city -- Salamanca. It's built on land leased from the Allegany Indian
There are three additional settlements of Seneca
Indians in the United States and Canada.
The Tonawandas live on 7,549 acres near Akron;
another group lives on the Six Nation, or Grand River Reserve near
Brantford, Ontario; and the Seneca-Cayugas were relocated to northeastern
Oklahoma, where they have a 5,000-acre reservation.
The Tuscarora Nation
The Tuscarora Indians were the last to be added to
the Iroquois Confederacy. They were added in the early 1700s.
In the early part of the 18th Century, they had
about six towns and 1,200 warriors.
However, losing their fight against the colonial
settlers, the Tuscaroras fled north from North Carolina to become the sixth
nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.
Today, Kenneth Patterson of the Tuscarora Indian
Nation estimates there are about 1,000 Tuscaroras living on their
reservation in Niagara County, north of Buffalo.
A portion of the land on the reservation where the
British burned the main Tuscarora settlement during the War of 1812 is now a
Parts of the Tuscarora Reservation have been taken
to accommodate public works reservoir.
``Most of the land claims of the Tuscaroras are made
in North Carolina,'' Patterson said. ``That's where we were driven out and
many were converted to Christianity.''
The Mohawk Nation
Spanning two countries and with three tribal
governments of their own, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is one of the most
complex Native American tribes in the Northeast.
The reservation consists of 14,640 acres sitting on
the U.S.-Canadian border along the St. Lawrence River.
The 8,000 Mohawks living on the reservation have
three tribal governments of their own.
There is one council on the Canadian side of the
reservation, one on the American and a Tribal Council which oversees all
There are 650 housing units on the reservation.
However, only 49 new units have been built since 1963.
Over half the units are defined as sub-standard,
according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The unemployment rate is 44 to 46 percent on the
U.S. side of the reservation, said the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Most of the labor force is employed in construction.
The Cayuga Nation
The Cayuga Nation is one of three "younger brothers"
in the confederacy. The Oneidas and the Tuscaroras are the others.
Tribal enrollment for the Cayuga Nation is small --
The Cayugas do not have a reservation or land base.
Most of the nation's members live on or near the Seneca Nation reservation.
There are no demographic figures defining the Cayuga
Nation. However, since the Cayugas are geographically and socially near the
Senecas, it is probable that the figures are the same, according to the
Bureau of Indian Affairs.
July 22, 1990