The Seneca Confederacy


Last Updated: 12 months

The Seneca Confederacy included the Erie, Conestoga, Cayuga, Oneida, Mohawk, Onondaga, Tuscarora, and Wyandot. The Stockbridge were also  known as the Housatonic and were united with the Oneida.

The Senecas (“People of the Standing Rock”) who were removed from Sandusky, Ohio were in Indian Territory as early as 1832. However, few historians believe that the Sandusky group were even part of  the Seneca Tribe, who was later joined with them in Indian Territory.

It is generally accepted that the Sandusky Senecas had been known as the Mingoes in colonial times, and had moved from Pennsylvania to the Ohio River Valley, and then settled in the region of the Sandusky River and intermarried with the Cayugas.  They were settled in the Cowskin area, and were the first group of northeastern Indians to be settled in present-day Ottawa County, Oklahoma.

Another band of Senecas in Logan County, Ohio intermarried with the Shawnee and Wyandotte tribes and were called the Mixed-blood Seneca/Shawnee. These Senecas had originally been part of the Five Tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy of New York and were moved into the Quapaw Agency Lands a year after the Sandusky group had arrived. They were assigned lands on the west side of the Neosho river that had already been given to the Cherokees.

After a council with the Sandusky group, the mixed-blood Senecas agreed to take 60,000 acres on the east side of the Sandusky Band, and combine their two tribes, then known as the United Nation of Senecas and Shawnee. By 1835 both of these groups moved into the area that extended from the Missouri state line to the Neosho River. This was then the boundary line of the Cherokee Nation.

For the most part, these people spoke English and cultivated the soil, raising enough food to support themselves and their livestock, and lived comfortably. Their dwellings were neat, hewn log cabins furnished by items of their own manufacture, and their fields were enclosed by rail fences. They were getting along fairly well as farmers until a grist and sawmill was constructed to comply with terms of the Ohio treaty. This was completed and opened for business by the Indians.

There were no other mills in this part of the country and white settlers from the adjoining states of Arkansas and Missouri flooded them with orders, to the extent that they were making a handsome profit. These revenues induced many of the farmers to raise and sell the surplus corn meal to two distillery operators who located their place of business just across the state line in Missouri.

In 1838 the agent reported the population to be a total of 251 Sandusky Senecas and 211 of the Seneca/Shawnee Band.  Their lands were bordering Missouri near both the Kansas and Arkansas state lines.

Following the outbreak of the Civil War, two-thirds of the Seneca and Shawnee fled to Kansas where they remained with the Ottawa on their reserve until after the close of the war. At this time, the Seneca and Shawnee, together with the Quapaw were listed at the Neosho Agency at Baldwin City, Kansas.

The last treaty with the Seneca and Shawnee was concluded on February 23, 1867, in Washington which provided for the sale of part of their lands for the settlement of several small tribes that had been located in Kansas: Wyandot, Ottawa, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Wea, Piankashaw, and their affiliated tribal bands. The treaty provided for the separation of the Seneca from the Shawnee, the latter to be known as the Eastern Shawnee and all the Seneca (Sandusky and the Mixed Band) were joined as one tribe under the name Seneca-Cayuga Nation.