Tuscarora Nation

Variant name:

Tuscaroraes; Tuskaroras; Tuskarooroak; Tuscoraga

Description:

The Tuscarora Nation is an Algonquian-speaking group related to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) peoples, who migrated south and occupied lands on the Roanoke, Neuse, Taw, and Pamlico Rivers in North Carolina. Their name means “hemp gatherers,” from the Apocynum cunnabinum, or Indian hemp, a plant native to the area and used for many purposes by the Tuscaroras. They became populous and powerful, expanding their territory and establishing many large towns. But European settlers arrived who did not recognize their land rights, and met Tuscaroran resistance with broken treaties, kidnapping, rape, murder, enslavement of children, and appropriation of their towns. From 1711 to 1713, the Tuscaroras fought two devastating wars with the colonists of North Carolina, who were aided by settlers from South Carolina, Virginia, and the colonists’ Indian allies. Many Tuscaroras were killed, while others were sold into slavery. About 1,500 remaining Tuscaroras asked the Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee for sponsorship and were accepted by the Oneidas, migrating north to live in central New York and Pennsylvania. In 1722, they became the sixth nation of the Confederacy. Another 1,500 sought refuge in Virginia, the majority of those ultimately returning to North Carolina, where the reservation set aside for them was eventually appropriated piecemeal by settlers. By the time of Occom's first mission to the Oneidas in 1761, the Haudenosaunee had been missionized by the French, the British, and colonial missionaries from the New England Company. The Tuscaroras were closely associated with their sponsors and neighbors, the Oneidas, but while the Oneidas welcomed missionaries and established their own Christian practice, the Tuscaroras did not. In 1764, Wheelock sent Occom north specifically to missionize to the Mohawks, Oneidas, and Tuscaroras. The missionary Samuel Kirkland reported that one Tuscarora sachem “continues to oppose & reproach the work of god with all his might, & uses every Artifice to dissuade his people from attending divine worship within here.” During the Revolutionary War, some of the Tuscaroras and Oneidas allied with the Americans while the majority of the Confederacy supported the British, and these pro-British Indians formed the main forces that attacked frontier settlements of the central Mohawk and Cherry valleys. The pro-British Tuscaroras followed Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant north to to Ontario, establishing the reserve of the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation. In 1803, a final group of southern Tuscaroras migrated to New York to the Tribe’s reservation in the town of Lewiston, Niagara County, NY. They are a federally recognized Tribe.

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Sources:

"History & Culture," tnic.info/about-us/. Fisher, Linford. The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.