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Onondaga people

onondaga people of the hills, pictures of onondaga people from canada
The Onondaga Onöñda’gega’ or "Hill Place" people are one of the original five constituent nations of the Iroquois Haudenosaunee Confederacy in northeast North America Their traditional homeland is in and around present-day Onondaga County, New York, south of Lake Ontario They are known as Gana’dagwëni:io’geh to the other Iroquois tribes Being centrally located, they are considered the "Keepers of the Fire" Kayečisnakwe’nì·yu’1 in Tuscarora in the figurative longhouse that shelters the Five Nations The Cayuga and Seneca have territory to their west and the Oneida and Mohawk to their east For this reason, the League of the Iroquois historically met at the Iroquois government's capital at Onondaga, as the traditional chiefs do today


  • 1 History
  • 2 Government
  • 3 Notable people
  • 4 Today
  • 5 Other spellings encountered
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


According to oral tradition, The Great Peacemaker approached the Onondaga and other tribes to found the Haudenosaunee2 The tradition tells that at the time the Seneca nation debated joining the Haudenosaunee based on the Great Peacemaker's teachings, a solar eclipse took place The most likely eclipse to be recounted was in 1142AD, which was visible to the people in the land of the Seneca34

This oral tradition is supported by archeological studies Carbon dating of particular sites of Onondaga habitation shows dates starting close to 1200AD ± 60 years with growth for hundreds of years5

Sketch by Samuel de Champlain of his attack on an Onondaga village

In the American Revolutionary War, the Onondaga were at first officially neutral, although individual Onondaga warriors were involved in at least one raid on American settlements After Americans attacked on their main village on April 20, 1779, the Onondaga later sided with the majority of the League and fought against the American colonists in alliance with the British After the United States was accorded independence, many Onondaga followed Joseph Brant to Upper Canada, where they were given land by the Crown at Six Nations

On November 11, 1794, the Onondaga Nation, along with the other Haudenosaunee nations, signed the Treaty of Canandaigua with the United States, in which their right to their homeland was acknowledged by the United States in article II of the treaty6

In 1816, 450 Onondaga were living in New York, 210 of whom lived on Buffalo Creek Reservation7


The Onondaga in New York have a traditional form of government, with chiefs nominated by clan mothers, rather than elected

On March 11, 2005, the Onondaga Nation in the town of Onondaga, New York, filed a land rights action in federal court, seeking acknowledgment of title to over 3,000 square miles 7,800 km2 of ancestral lands centering in Syracuse, New York They hoped to obtain increased influence over environmental restoration efforts at Onondaga Lake and other EPA Superfund sites in the claimed area 8 The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the Onondagas' claim in 2012, and the Supreme Court in 2013 declined to hear an appeal9

Notable peopleedit

Rose Doctor, Onondaga people Wolf Clan, Clanmother
  • Leon Shenandoah 1915–1996, Tadodaho
  • Oren Lyons Lives at Onondaga and holds a Faithkeeper title, but is Seneca
  • Tom Longboat Six Nations
  • Canassatego, Hiawatha, Tadadaho of the Iroquois Confederacy
  • Tadodaho Sidney Hill
  • Samuel George, "Hononwirehdonh", or "Great Wolf", 1795–1873; chief from 1850–1873
  • Gail Tremblay poet
  • Eric Gansworth poet, novelist and visual artist



  • Onondaga Nation south of Nedrow, New York outside Syracuse
  • Onondaga of Ohswegen and Bearfoot Onondaga, both at Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario, Canada

Other spellings encounterededit

  • Onöñda'gega' Onondaga language
  • Onontakeka Oneida language
  • Onondagaono Seneca language

See alsoedit

  • Indigenous peoples of North America portal
  • Hiawatha
  • Onondaga language
  • HMCS Onondaga S73 Oberon Class submarine
  • Sainte-Marie among the Hurons
  • John Arthur Gibson


  1. ^ Rudes, B Tuscarora English Dictionary Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999
  2. ^ Bruce E Johansen 2006 The Native Peoples of North America: a History Rutgers University Press pp 136–138 ISBN 978-0-8135-3899-0 
  3. ^ Johansen, Bruce E Fall 1995 "Dating the Iroquois Confederacy" PDF Akwesasne Notes New Series 01 3/04: 62–3 Retrieved 2010-05-23 
  4. ^ Johansen, Bruce Elliott; Mann, Barbara Alice 2000 "Ganondagan" Encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy Greenwood Publishing Group p 105 ISBN 978-0-313-30880-2 Retrieved 2010-05-23 
  5. ^ Tuck, James A 1990 Onondaga Iroquois Prehistory: A Study in Settlement Archaeology reprint ed Syracuse University Press p 197 ISBN 978-0-8156-2511-7 
  6. ^ "canandaigua-treatyorg - This website is for sale! - canandaigua-treaty Resources and Information" Retrieved 6 September 2016 
  7. ^ Hauptman, Laurence 2008 Seven Generations of Iroquois Leadership: The Six Nations Since 1800 Syracuse University Press ISBN 978-0-8156-3165-1 
  8. ^ 1, Syracuse Post Standard, nd, accessed 11 Nov 2015
  9. ^ "Supreme Court rejects Onondaga Indian Nation's land claim against New York" CNYCentralcom Retrieved 29 June 2017 
  10. ^ "Current Clan Mothers" Haundenosaunee Confederacy Retrieved 11 Sept 2012


  • Calloway, Colin G 2004 First Peoples 2nd Ed Boston: Bedford/St Martin's ISBN 0-312-39889-1
  • Onondaga Reservation, New York United States Census Bureau

External linksedit

  • Onondaga Nation web page

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