Seneca Nation

Variant name:

Senecans; Seenecas; Seneke

Address:

Canadasega, New York

Description:

The Senecas are one of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. They are the Westernmost Haudenosaunee tribe and are known as the “Keepers of the Western door,” just as the Mohawks are the “Keepers of the Eastern Door.” During the colonial period, the Senecas were the largest of the Six Nations, in part because they adopted large numbers of Native Americans and even some Europeans to compensate for losses from disease and warfare. (Their most famous adoptee was Mary Jemison, a Scots-Irish woman who spent her life as an adopted Seneca and whose memoirs were written down and published in 1824.) The Jesuits launched missionary efforts among the Senecas, along with the rest of the Six Nations, in the second half of the 17th century. However, the Senecas received fewer Jesuit missionaries than other Haudenosaunee tribes did. This may have been due in part to their close relationship with the British, to whom the Senecas were loyal allies against the French and the Americans. It could also have stemmed from their conflict with the Hurons, another Haudenosaunee-speaking tribe located to the west of the Six Nations. Although the Hurons and Haudenosaunee spoke related languages, they were fierce enemies; because the Senecas were the most western of the Six Nations, they fought the Hurons more often. The Hurons had close ties to the French and hosted numerous Jesuit missionaries, so the Senecas' conflict with the Hurons may have further alienated them from Jesuit efforts. The Senecas also sided with the British during the Revolution, and, in retribution, General Sullivan destroyed their homes and crops during his 1779 rampage through central New York. The Seneca perspective on Sullivan's campaign survives in Jemison's memoirs. After the Revolution, many Mohawks and Cayugas, who had also allied with the British, left central New York. Some moved west, while others moved to the Grand River Reserve in Canada. The Senecas are notable for staying on their lands, where many of them remain today. Samuel Kirkland, an Anglo-American Moor’s Indian Charity School alumnus most famous for his work among the Oneidas, began his career with a mission to the Senecas between January 1765 and spring 1766. He also was adopted by the Senecas. His mission to the Senecas gave him his reputation as an dedicated missionary because of their perceived savagery. Eleazar Wheelock himself had little contact with the Senecas. Kirkland’s Seneca brother by adoption, Tekanada, suggested that he might send his son to Moor’s Indian Charity School, but does not appear to have done so.

All related documents: retrieve them
Sources:

Calloway, Colin G. New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press 1997. Chase, Frederick. A history of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire. 1891. Lothrop, Samuel K. Life of Samuel Kirkland, Missionary to the Indians. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown 1848. Accessed via GoogleBooks. Love, Deloss. Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England. Pilgrim Press 1899. Mooney, James. "Seneca Indians." The Catholic Encyclopaedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Accessed 11/9/2013 via http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13714a.htm. Seaver, James E. A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison. 1824. Accessed 11/9/2013 via Project Gutenberg. Snow, Dean R. The Iroquois. Cambridge: Blackwell 1994.