An Oneida Indian in Foreign Waters: The Life of Chief Chapman Scanandoah 1870–1953 (Syracuse University Press, 2016) by Laurence M. Hauptman is a biography of Chief Chapman Scanandoah, a decorated Navy veteran who served in the Spanish-American War, a skilled mechanic, and a prizewinning agronomist who helped develop the Iroquois Village at the New York State Fair.
He was also a historian, linguist, philosopher, and early leader of the Oneida land claims movement. However, his fame among the Oneida people and among many of his contemporaries today rests with his career as an inventor. Continue reading
James Kirby Martin, a history professor at the University of Houston, traces his interest in the Mohawk Valley to his birthplace in northern Ohio.
Joseph Brant of the Mohawk Nation was born in what is now Ohio in 1743 and Martin was fascinated by Brant’s life. The younger brother of Sir William Johnson’s longtime consort Molly Brant, Joseph Brant and Sir William’s son John led devastating raids in the Mohawk Valley during the American Revolution.
Sir William, Britain’s Indian agent in our region, died in 1774 before the war. However, his good relations with the Iroquois Confederacy kept most of them on the side of the British during the Revolution. Continue reading
In 1634, the Dutch West India Company was anxious to know why the fur trade from New Netherland had been declining, so the company sent three employees far into Iroquois country to investigate.
Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert led the expedition from Fort Orange (present-day Albany). His journal includes the earliest known description of the interior of what is today New York State and its seventeenth-century native inhabitants and it is now issued in a revised edition as A Journey into Mohawk and Oneida Country, 1634-1635: The Journal of Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2013; Translated and Edited by Charles T. Gehring and William A. Starna). Continue reading
Karim M. Tiro’s The People of the Standing Stone: The Oneida Nation From Revolution Through the Era of Removal (Univ. of Mass. Press, 2011) traces the history of the Oneida’s experiences from the American Revolution to the mid-nineteenth century.
Between 1765 and 1845, the Oneida Indian Nation weathered a trio of traumas: war, dispossession, and division. During the American War of Independence, the Oneidas became the revolutionaries most important Indian allies. They undertook a difficult balancing act, helping the patriots while trying to avoid harming their Iroquois brethren.
Despite the Oneidas wartime service, they were dispossessed of nearly all their lands through treaties with the state of New York. In eighty years the Oneidas had gone from being an autonomous, powerful people in their ancestral homeland to being residents of disparate, politically exclusive reservation communities separated by up to nine hundred miles and completely surrounded by non-Indians.
The Oneidas physical, political, and emotional division persists to this day. Even for those who stayed put, their world changed more in cultural, ecological, and demographic terms than at any time before or since. Oneidas of the post-Revolutionary decades were reluctant pioneers, undertaking more of the adaptations to colonized life than any other generation. Amid such wrenching change, maintaining continuity was itself a creative challenge. The story of that extraordinary endurance lies at the heart of this book. Additional materials, including teaching resources, are available online.
The author specializes in North America from the 16th through the mid-19th centuries. He is also the author of Along the Hudson and Mohawk: The 1790 Journey of Count Paolo Andreani (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006). Tiro is an Associate Professor of History at Xavier University and is currently researching the history of the United States sugar industry.
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The Oneida Indian Nationhas announced that they will participate in an memorial ceremony to remember the 1777 Battle of Oriskany this evening:
231 years ago, the Oneida Indian Nation became the first ally of the American colonists in their fight for freedom, at the Battle of Oriskany. On Wednesday, August 6, at 7 pm, a solemn remembrance ceremony will be held at the battlefield to remember those who fought and those who died at what history has called the ”bloodiest battle of the American Revolution.” The Oneidas will be represented at this community-wide event by Brian Patterson, Bear Clan Representative for the Nation’s Council, and members of the Nation’s reenactment group, First Allies.
The Battle took place in what is now Oneida County on the south side of the Mohawk River. According to the great wiki:
During his march down the Mohawk Valley from Oswego to Albany, Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger besieged Fort Stanwix, then under the command of Colonel Peter Gansevoort. St. Leger’s force of British regulars of the Royal Artillery, 8th and 34th Regiments, loyalist King’s Royal Yorkers and natives of the Six Nations and Seven Nations of Canada laid siege to the fort.
Upon hearing reports of St. Leger’s advance, Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer assembled the Tryon County militia at Fort Dayton to proceed to Gansevoort’s aid. On August 4, 1777, Herkimer, with 800 militiamen—mostly poorly trained German-American farmers—and 40 Oneida Indians, began the forty-mile (65 km) trek west from Fort Dayton to Fort Stanwix.
When St. Leger learned through Molly Brant that Herkimer and his relief expedition were on their way, he sent Joseph Brant, a Mohawk chief, with more than 400 natives, and Sir John Johnson, with the light infantry company of his King’s Royal Yorkers to intercept them. Their clash at Oriskany Creek was one of the key episodes of the Campaign of 1777.
On August 6, 1777, [the] American relief force from the Mohawk Valley under General Nicholas Herkimer, numbering around 800 men of the Tryon County militia, was approaching to raise the siege. British commander Barry St. Leger authorized an intercept force consisting of a Hanau Jager detachment, Sir John Johnson’s King’s Royal Regiment of New York, Native allies from the Six Nations, and Indian Department Rangers totaling at least 450 men.
The Loyalist and Native force ambushed Herkimer’s force in a small valley about six miles east of Fort Stanwix. During the battle, Herkimer was mortally wounded. The battle cost the Patriots approximately 450 casualties, while the Loyalists and Natives lost approximately 150 dead and wounded. It was a clear victory for the loyalists over the rebels.
But the Loyalist victory was tarnished when a sortie from Fort Stanwix sacked the Crown camp, spoiling morale among the Native Americans.
The Oriskany Battlefield is located on Route 69, two miles west of the Village of Oriskany.
Mrs. Mecomber over at New York Traveler offers an interesting post on the Skenandoah Boulder, a monument to Oneida Chief Skenandoah.
Her site includes lots of photos of the memorial, some research she conducted and a link to her trip to Skenandoah’s grave site at Hamilton College cemetery in Clinton, Oneida County.
According to the Chiefs website:
In 1766, Samuel Kirkland, an American missionary, began living with the Oneida. He adopted many of their customs, but at the same time preached Christian ways. He was largely responsible for persuading the Oneida to abandon their neutral stance and support the Americans. Skenandoah, who was a close personal friend to Samuel Kirkland, began sending some warriors to help the Americans.
When George Washington’s men were starving at Valley Forge, Skenandoah sent baskets of corn. Skenandoah also informed residents of German Flats, New York, that Joseph Brant and the British Loyalists were going to raid their town. The settlers were able to save themselves, but lost all their property and possessions. In recognition of Skenandoah’s invaluable support, George Washington named the Shenandoah Valley after him. Following the American Revolution, Skenandoah remained the principal chief of the Oneida. In 1816, Skenandoah died. Per his request, he was buried next to Samuel Kirkland at Hamilton College cemetery in Clinton, New York.
Mrs. Mecomber reports that the boulder’s plaque says:
This marks the site of the last home of SKENANDOAH Chief of the Oneidas, “The White Man’s Friend.” Here he entertained Governor DeWitt Clinton 1810, and many other distinguished guests, and here he died in 1816 aged 110. He was carried on the shoulders of his faithful Indians to his burial in the cemetery of Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, and laid to rest beside his beloved friend and faithful teacher Rev. Samuel Kirkland.
“I am an aged hemlock; the winds of an hundred winters have whistled through my branches . I am dead at the top. The generation to which I belonged have run away and left me.” Skenandoah.
Erected 1912 by Skenandoah Chapter, N.S.D.A.R. Oneida, NY