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Seneca Indians.

the westernmost of the Five Nations of the Iroquois, located in central and western New York. Seneca land lay between Seneca Lake and Lake Erie. The Iroquois Confederacy, traditionally said to have been sponsored by Hiawatha, was originally composed of the Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Oneida; later (about 1715) the Tuscaroras joined them, and the group was called the Six Nations. The Six Nations had an unwritten constitution and representative government. They joined with Pontiac against the English, but chose the English during the Revolutionary War. When troops sent by Washington defeated an army of Tories and Indians near Elmira and marched through the Indian lands (1779), the power of the Iroquois Confederacy was broken. Many Iroquois moved across the border into Quebec and Ontario; a small group moved to northeast Oklahoma. Those who stayed in New York were confined to separate reservations. For 170 years the Senecas lived, according to a treaty signed during Washington's presidency, on a reservation on the Allegheny River. In the 1960s a dam built by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect Pittsburgh from flooding caused the Senacas' land to flood. They were awarded 15 million dollars in damages and relocated, but their sacred religious sites and cemeteries had been obliterated.

Two of the most celebrated Seneca chiefs are Cornplanter (1732?-1836) and Red Jacket (c.1756-1830). In 1780, Cornplanter led an invasion of the settlements of the Schoharie valley; his white father, John O'Bail, was among the captives, but Cornplanter spared his father and his father's white family. As a guest of <IR> JEFFERSON </IR> , with whom he had carried on a correspondence, Cornplanter visited Washington, D.C., in the winter of 1801-1802. Both chiefs were called to Philadelphia by <IR> WASHINGTON </IR> in 1792. Red Jacket, a celebrated orator, spoke for his people. Though he complained that neither the English nor the Americans had provided for their Indian allies, he agreed that the Six Nations would advocate for peace between the U.S. and the western Indians.

Senecas are treated sympathetically in Yonnondio, or Warriors of the Genesee (1844) by William H.C. Hosmer, and Edmund Wilson discusses them in Apologies to the Iroquois (1960).

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Previous Article:Saroyan, William (1908-1981).
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