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 1350.

The Onondagas are the confederacy's Keepers of the Central Fire.

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 six nations.

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 Indian Affairs.

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 formation.

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 reservation.

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 plowed field.

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 activities.

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 -- about 1,000.

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