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Oneida [archive]

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Land: The homeland of the Oneida includes what is now central New York State north into Canada. In the middle 19th century, some migrated into Wisconsin, where some Oneida still live today.

Language: Oneida is part of the Iroquoian language family.

Traditions: The Oneida were semi-sedentary. They were farmers. Women would harvest the fields that contained beans, squash, and corn. Men would hunt, fish, trade and build longhouses. These longhouses were made of elm bark which was also used to make canoes. The longhouses housed families that were related through maternal descent. Each community had a council of adult men that would help guide the village chiefs who were nominated by women.

History: The Oneida were one of the original nations of the Iroquois League and were the least populous. During the 17th century, one town of 60-100 longhouses was destroyed by a French-Canadian expedition. The people of this community were divided into other Oneida communities and into Canawaroghere communities. The Iroquois nation had a desire to stand together against invasion, all of the tribes worked together for this purpose. There was a council of 50 seats. Each seat had a name and rank that was associated with a responsibility. The Oneida’s had eight seats in the council and were known as the “Younger Brothers” as were the Cayugas. All decisions were unanimous. During the American Revolution, the Oneida, along with the Tuscarora, supported the colonists cause. The rest of the league supported Britain. This caused friction between the nations. After the war, the nations began to separate into factions because of disagreements over traditional religous beliefs as well as the sale of land. In the 1830’s, about 650 Oneidas left the New York area and moved to Wisconsin in hopes of establishing a western Iroquois Empire.

Additional Reading

 Oneida People
 Oneida Nation
 New York Languages

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