30 April 2016

Iroquoian Peoples of Eastern North America

To their Algonquin-speaking neighbors in the north, they were known as ‘Mengwe’; to those in the south the name was ‘Mangoak’.  By this, they referred in groups of people sharing similar, though not identical languages, and a number of cultural traits.  The Dutch version of the name was ‘Minqua’, which the English further corrupted into ‘Mingo’.  According to many authorities, the original word means “without penises” (as in "dickless").  Who said Indians have no sense of humor.

Cultural generalities

Among the more admirable traits of the Iroquoian-speaking peoples is the high status accorded to women among them, a few of the tribes and confederacies being “ruled”, as much as that can be said about the governance of any groups outside the Mississippian cultures (such as the Natchez and the Wateree which survived into the colonial era).  Sometimes war parties included women as well as men, and if attacked, Iroquoian women could fight as well as the men.

Less admirable was their avidity for the consumption of human flesh.  That fact comes not from wild rumors or vicious slander but from eyewitness accounts, particularly of the French, who indeed did not want to defame those about whom they were reporting at all, for often the reporters were Jesuit missionaries who wanted to convert them.  One notable account comes from Abbe Gallinee, associate of Robert La Salle; in his journey down the Ohio River, his Seneca guides and bodyguards brought with them a prisoner from the north just for that purpose.

The dominant feature of the towns of the western and eastern Iroquoians, and possibly the middle Iroquoians also, was the longhouse, some as long as an American football field and housing up to sixty persons, all of the same clan.  The southern Iroquoians and later composite groups followed the pattern of their surrounding neighbors.

Clans were matrilineal and exogamous, and children belonged to that of their mother.

Besides hunting and fishing, they engaged in agriculture of the “three sisters” (maize, beans, squash) and gathered wild edible plants as well.

Religiously, there were no all powerful deities, just powerful spirits, but there was a force behind all life.  The Huron called this force the “Orenda”, but they made no sacrifices no offered prayers to it.  At least among the western Iroquoians, that part of the Orenda in each individual being was called its “otkon”; among the eastern Iroquoians the connotation was more of “evil spirit”.

All the Iroquoians practiced sky burial.   The western Iroquoians would hold a Feast of the Dead every ten to twelve years, the same time they were moving their town to a new location, burying the bones in the old grounds.

About this essay

What follows is a list of the known tribes and confederacies, which far exceeds in number those most usually known, with a brief description, note of their subgroups, their fate, participation in the colonial wars of the 1700s, and their descendants.

In these passages, the word “Iroquois” refers specifically to the League of Five Nations, those most commonly referred to as Iroquois.  The word ‘Iroquoian’ in singular or plural refers to all Iroquoian-speakers in general or to those on groups not members of the League.  For example, the “western Iroquoians” are the Huron, Erie, Chonnonton, Petun, etc., while the “western Iroquois” are the Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga; the “eastern Iroquoians” are the same group as “the Iroquois”.

The divisions are ones that seemed to me most convenient to divide them into biteable size chunks and generally follows standard arrangements, except for the inclusion of the “composite groups” division.



When Jacques Cartier made trips to Canada attempting to establish a permanent colony, he found several tribes dwelling there in fortified villages, most of them hostile to each other. 

The people of these towns, or villages, spoke similar languages from the Iroquoian family.  In addition to the French, fishermen from Europe—Basques, Portugese, Bretons—plied the fish-rich waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Labrador Sea, and also came into contact with these natives.

Nomenclature:  Historians and archaeologists call them the Laurentians or St. Lawrence Iroquois because they lived along that river.  The Basque fishermen called them the ‘Canales’; their neighbors the Micmac called them the ‘Kwedech’.

Territory:  Various towns along the St. Lawrence River.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  In ascending order, the towns, all on the right bank (north shore), included: Ajoaste, Starnatam, Tailla, Sitadin, Stadacona, Tequedonay, Achelacy, and Hochelaga.  The towns/tribes which were the most bitter rivals among the Canales or Kwedech were Stadacona (where Champlain built Quebec) and Hochelaga (on Ile de Montreal).

Fate:  Basque fishermen who visited the area in 1570 reported that all the tribes were engaged in war with powerful enemies to the south (the Five Nations Iroquois).  Other Basque fishermen visiting in 1580 reported all the towns were deserted.  What became of them is one of the great mysteries of Canadian prehistory and archaeology.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Unknown.



Spelled ‘Atiouandaron’ on the Boudon map of “Nouvelle France” of 1641, a mistaken reading of accounts of the 1640 journey of the Jesuit Fathers Jean de Breboeuf and Pierre Chaumonot might lead one to believe those passages referred to those people rather than the Wenro.  A list of tribes in the Jesuit Relation for 1640 calls this particular group the ‘Attiouendarankhronon’.

Nomenclature:  Usually spelled ‘Atiouandaron’ or some variation thereof on French maps, this term is not an ethnonym but a Huron word meaning “their speech is awry’, or, to put it more colloquially, ‘those funny-talking people’.  The corresponding word of the Five Nations Iroquois is ‘Hatiwantarunh’.

The people most often called Attiwandaron in French records are the Chonnonton, also known as the Neutral Nation.  Another group also so designated appear west of the Appalachian Mountains across from Virginia.  These latter were almost certainly those known to the Algonquin-speaking natives east of the mountains as the ‘Massawomeck’.

By the way, the Huron designation for those speaking a completely different language, such as the Algonquin-speaking Ottawa, for example, was ‘Akwanake’, which is one of the names the Huron-descended Wyandot gave to the Cherokee in the next century.

Territory:  In southern Lower Michigan, south of the Winnebago and west of the Fox, perhaps as far as the eastern shores of Lake Michigan.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  None known.

Fate:  They may have been the group of Petun who invaded Lower Michigan looking for more sources of beaver for trade with the French in 1630.  If so, or even if not, they likely joined with the refugee Huron, Petun, and Chonnonton who became the Wyandot later in the century.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  None known, unless they did in fact join the Wyandot.


Nomenclature:  Their autonym was ‘Wendat’, and other native peoples called them the ‘Tionontati’ and the ‘Dinondadies’.  To the French they were the ‘Petun’, or the ‘Hurons de la Nation du Petun’, ‘petun’ being French for ‘tobacco’, for which one of the English names for them was ‘Tobacco Indians’.

Territory:  Southwest of Georgian Bay, northeast of the Ottawa, north of the Chonnonton, and west of the Huron.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  Two tribes are known, the Oskennonton and the Annaariskwa, who lived in nine towns, the capital of which was Etarita or Ekarenniondi.

Fate:  In revenge for their taking in Huron refugees following the collapse of that confederacy, the Iroquois targeted the Petun, destroying Eharita in the winter of 1649.  Afterwards, many of the Petun fled south to the Chonnonton while the rest, along with the Huron refugees among them, retreated to their two northernmost towns.  The next year, these latter went with their Ottawa allies to Mackinac Island.  By mid-1653, the combined refugees had merged with refugee Chononton to become the Wyandot in the Green Bay area.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Besides those adopted by the Iroquois and possibly any who may have gone south to become part of the Cherokee, Petun descendants survive among the Wyandot, among whose own descendants their bloodlines remain.


When Champlain first reported of them in 1615, they had 30,000 people.  By 1640, they were reduced through disease, famine, and warfare to just twelve to fifteen thousand.

Nomenclature:  Their autonym was ‘Wendat’, but the French primarily called them ‘Huron’ or ‘Huron les bon Iroquois’.  Champlain first referred to them as the ‘Ochateguin’, then later as the ‘Charioquois’ (‘Charioquet’, ‘Charokay’), and also as the ‘Allegonantes’. 

The Seneca called them the ‘Sastharhetsi’ while the Mohawk called them the ‘Quatoghi’, the latter of which was adopted by the English and later by the Americans, for whom it was the preferred term for the Huron and Wyandot throughout the nineteenth century.

The Lenape referred to the Huron as the ‘Talamatan’, which some writers have interpreted as ‘people who dwell in caves’.  Algonquian speakers in general referred to them as the ‘Little Minqua’, the modifier ‘Little’ distinguishing them from other Iroquoian-speakers, specifically the Five Nations.

Some French writers, mostly the Jesuits writing reports for those across the water, muck things up even further by referring to all non-League Iroquoian groups as Huron, at least the ones in the vicinity of New France, especially in writings.  ‘Hurons les bons Iroquois’ refers to those in the Huron confederacy; ‘Hurons de la Nation du Petun’ refers to the Petun; and ‘Hurons de la Nation Neutre’ refers to the Chonnonton confederacy.

The Mohawk call the Huron of Wendake the ‘Radinyagwenghtha’.

Territory:  At the time of the French entrée, the Huron occupied the high ground between Lake Smile and Georgian Bay on Lake Huron, east of the Petun, north of the Chonnonton, and east of the Chondake.  Archaeology has clearly demonstrated, however, that they originated as a people on the northern shores of Lake Ontario.  One of the major excavations has been the tremendous Mantle Site, occupied 1500-1530, the largest and most cosmopolitan ever found in the Great Lakes region, with some fifty-five longhouses occupied at one time and trade with all Five Nations of the later Iroquois League and with the Laurentians.

Towns and/or  constituent tribes:  The Huron had some twenty towns, of which the chief of the confederacy was Ossossane, at the site of modern Perkinsfield, Ontario. 

The confederacy began as the alliance of two tribes in the home region, the Attignawantan (‘Bear People’) and the Attiguenongha (‘Cord People’), probably in the mid-fifteenth century.  The Arendahronon (‘Rock People’) joined around 1590, and the the Atahontaenrat (‘Deer People’) about 1610; both tribes likely driven out of the St. Lawrence Valley by the Iroquois.  In 1644, during the Beaver Wars, the confederacy formed a new tribe, the Ataronchronon (‘People of the Bog’) out of refugees from defeated groups, primarily Christians from the Weskarini Algonkin, Algonquian-speaking Atonontrataronon (‘Cord People’), and a portion of the Wenro.

Fate:  The Iroquois began frequently raiding their long-term enemies the Huron in 1642, and continued until they were dispersed or assimilated.  When the Huron formed an alliance with the Susquehannock in 1647, the western Iroquois (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga) attacked them in force, destroying the chief town of the Atahontaenrat and dispersing the Arendaronon, some of whom fled to other Huron while others were assimilated. 

In 1648, the Iroquois destroyed the town of Teananstayae and its Jesuit mission of St. Joseph, dispersing the Attiguenongha, then destroyed two towns of the Attignawantan, who took refuge with the Petun and the Chonnonton. 

When the Iroquois destroyed two mission towns in 1649, the Huron burned the remaining fifteen and scattered, the Atahontaenrat to the Chonnonton and the Ataronchronon to Christian Island in Georgian Bay.  Those of the last group who survived the brutal winter moved to Lorette the next year north of Quebec, and remain as the Huron of Wendake.  Those who sought refuge among the Petun ended up merging with them to become the Wyandot.

When the Chonnonton confederacy collapsed in 1651, the Atahontaenrat surrendered to the Seneca, who adopted them and gave them their own town, Gandougarae.  

The Arendahronon and the portion of Attignawantan refugees among the Chonnonton removed to the Ile d’Orleans, where they lived until surrendering in 1657, with the Onondaga adopting the former and the Mohawk adopting the latter.

The Attigneenongnahac who had been at Ile d’Orleans remained at Quebec until relocating to Lorette, where they eventually became the Huron of Wendake.

Large numbers of Huron exiles took refuge among the various tribes of the Erie, and their fates followed those of their hosts.  The exiles were large enough in number that historians of the late 18th and early 19th centuries included them as one of the two major Iroquoian nations that formed the basis of the multi-ethnic Cherokee people.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  The Huron at Wendake, the only remaining population still identifying as Huron, sided with New France in all its wars against the British until 1763, when their allegiance switched to Great Britain following its victory in the French and Indian War.  During that war, the Huron became one of the Seven Nations of Canada supporting the French then the British, all the way through the American Revolution and the War of 1812.  They were also part of the Western Confederacy during the Northwest Indian War as one of the Seven Nations.  The Wyandot are covered below.

Descendants:  The Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake, Ontario, are the only remaining group with an individual Huron identity.  Their descendants also made up a good portion of the Wyandot.  Others became part of the Cherokee or were adopted by various tribes of the Iroquois; many of these latter became part of the non-Six Nations Iroquois who became the Mingo in the eighteenth century.


These are similar to the first group of western Iroquoians listed, a small group known only by a few mentions and one or two placements on maps.

Nomenclature:  No autonym known, but listed in various sources and media as Chonkande, Konkhandeenhronon, and Chonchradeen.

Territory:  It appears from the 1641 Nouvelle France map that they occupied the territory north of Lake Ontario and east of the Huron.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  None known.

Fate:  Outside of their appearance on maps and a couple of entries in the Jesuit Relations that merely note their existence, nothing is known of them.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Unknown.


The Chonnonton confederacy was similar in some respects to the Powhatan confederacy to the south, and like the latter had been formed by its current paramount chief at the time of first contact, in this case, Tsouharissen (‘Child of the Sun’), in the 1620’s.  It was the largest and most politically complex grouping in the Great Lakes region.

Upon Champlain’s arrival, they numbered 40,000.  By 1640, they were one-third of that.

Nomenclature:  Their autonym was ‘Chonnonton’ (‘people of the deer’), but the French knew them best as the Neutral Nation, not because they never went to war (they did, particularly against the Algonquians of Lower Michigan), but because they did not take sides between the Huron confederacy and the Five Nations Iroquois.  Canadian historians almost universally use this name, while Americans call them the Neutrals or the Attiwandaron.

Territory:  They occupied the northern shores of Lake Erie west of the Niagara River north to the territories of the Huron and the Petun and west to that of the Ottawa.  After the Seneca drove away the Wenro, the Onguiaahra tribe of the confederacy occupied four villages in the Niagara Frontier also.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  This confederacy made up of an average (membership was somewhat fluid) of ten separate tribes had evolved more than even the League of Five Nations, into a proto-chiefdom living in about forty towns and villages, twelve of them fortified towns and twenty-eight unfortified villages at the time the Jesuits visited them.  The seat of the proto-chiefdom was at Andachkhroh, also called Ounontisaston after the dominant tribe.  Other tribes in the confederacy whose names we know were the Kandoucho, the Teotondiaton, the Antouaronon, the Attiragenrenga, the Onguiaahra, the Aondihronon, the Oherokouaehronon ‘(people of the grass country’), and the remnant Wenro, who lived in the town of Khioetoa after they relocated west of the Niagara River in 1643. 

Fate:  When Tsouharissen died without a successor in 1646, the Chonnonton proto-chiefdom collapsed, and the confederacy began to unravel.  The Iroquois destroyed the chief town of the Aondirronon in 1647, and the Chonnonton’s alliance with the Erie collapsed the next year.  After the Huron confederacy dissolved in 1649, half the Attignawantan and the Atahontaenrat sought refuge among them, and at the end of the year, a good portion of the Petun.  Their town of Teotondiaton was destroyed in fall 1650, and their towns of Kandoucho and Andachkhroh, after which the Chonnonton were assimilated or dispersed. 

While many fled to the Erie, a large portion remained independent to continue the fight.  Among those who fled to the Erie were the Antouaronon, who moved as a group to the southern shores of Lake Erie just west of the Oniasontke; these may have joined the Erie confederacy.  

The free Chonnonton allied with the Susquehannock in 1652 to deliver a sizable enough defeat on the Seneca for them to send their women, children, and elders to the Cayuga.  These wintered at Skenchioe (Thumb of Michigan) near Teochanontian (Detroit), attempting to form a league with the Upper Algonquin. The next year they migrated to Aotonatendie (Door Peninsula on Green Bay) and probably merged with the Wyandot who settled on Rock Island.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Their bloodlines survive in the Wyandot, in most of the Six Nations, especially the original Five, and among the descendants of the Mingo.


Though small, these people carried out trade with both the English and the Dutch through the Massawomeck and the Susquehannock respectively.

The Wenro are most notable for their use of petroleum-tainted water for medicinal purposes when first encountered by a European.

Nomenclature:  The name by which they are known, variously written as ‘Aouenrehronon’, ‘Ahouenrochrhonon’, and ‘Awenrehronon’, is probably an exonym.

Territory:  When first encountered by Jesuit Father Joseph de la Roche Daillon in 1627, they were centered around Oil Springs.  Later, they occupied the Niagara Frontier.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  When living on the Niagara Frontier, they occupied four villages between the river and Lake Ontario.  How many they had in the Oil Springs region is unknown, and they are believed to have been a single tribe.

Fate:  In 1635, they moved northwest from Oil Springs to the Niagara Frontier to escape the Seneca who lived not far across the Genesee River, after being admitted as a member of the Chonnonton confederacy.  Three or four years later, they were attacked there as well, and a majority sought refuge with the Huron or the Chonnonton.  A belligerent contingent kept fighting until 1643, when they joined their cousins among the Chonnonton.  Afterwards, they shared the fates of their various hosts.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Most of the remaining identifiable Wenro joined the exodus to the west in company with the Petun remnant and the Huron refugees who did not surrender, the group that became the nucleus of the Wyandot, among whose descendants the Wenro bloodlines survive.


This group may actually have been the largest of all.  One tribe of this confederacy alone was said to have had nineteen settlements before the Iroquois destroyed them all.  While probably not approaching the sophistication of a chiefdom, they may have been a large confederacy of smaller confederacies.  They traded with the Dutch, probably through the Susquehannock, and with the English, both directly and through the Massawomeck, who may have been tributary.  That they were the last confederacy of Iroquoian speakers in the west that the Iroquois took on lends credence to allusions by the Jesuits to their numbers and ferocity.  Their chief leaders were women, and they are noted for their use of poison-tipped arrows.

Nomenclature:  Their autonym is not known, but since Huron did not call them ‘Attiwandaron’ as they did the nearby Chonnonton and the Massawomeck beyond them to the southeast, they likely spoke a nearly identical language and may have called themselves ‘Wendat’.  The Huron called them ‘Yenresh’ (more properly ‘Yenreshronon’), which the French corrupted into ‘Erie’ or ‘Enrie’, as well as Enrielhonan, Rhiierrhonnon, and Eriehronon.  However, the French most often called them ‘Nation du Chat’, a more or less exact translation of the Huron name, and some variation of the word ‘Riqueronon’, after their chief town ‘Rique’, or Arriga, though properly speaking that designation should have been reserved for the tribe which hosted it.

The Seneca called them ‘Gwageoneh’, the Mohawk called them ‘Arrigahaga’, the Onondaga called them ‘Onnontioga’, and the Tuscarora called them ‘Kenyrak’, and all of the Iroquois gave them the pejorative nickname, ‘Otkons’ (‘bad spirits’ or ‘demons’).  The Lenape called them ‘Allegewi’, the Ottawa called them ‘Olighin’, and the Dutch called them the ‘Black Minqua’.

Territory:  At the time of the French entrée, their territory extended south from the shores of Lake Erie to the lands of the Shawnee in the Ohio Valley, southeast to the lands of the Massawomeck, and west from the lands of the Wenro (when the latter were at Oil Springs) to the Cuyahoga River.  After the Wenro moved northwest while at the same time the Kickapoo harried them from the west, the Erie shifted east, and their territory extended to the Genesee River.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  The Erie confederacy was composed of four or five tribes, the Atrakwaeronon, the Arrigahaga, the Kentaientonga, the Oniansontke, and, possibly, the Takoulguehronnon, if these last were not a member of the Chonnonton confederacy.  In addition, the Antouaronon may have formed part of the confederacy after relocating south of Lake Erie and west of the Kentaientonga upon the disintegration of the Chonnonton.  Only three town names are known for sure: Atrakwae, Arrigha (‘Rigue’), and Kentaienton, and these were all large fortified towns.  But they were not the only settlements, with the Kentaientonga alone reportedly having at least nineteen towns and/or villages.

Fate:  The Seneca attacked the Atrakwaeronon in late 1651 and were seriously defeated, but came back with the rest of the western Iroquois in summer 1652, capturing Atrakwae and ending the Atrakwaeronon as a tribe.  After sealing an alliance with the Susquehannock, the Erie as a whole, at the time governed by a woman, launched a war agains the Seneca in 1653.  In 1654, the Iroquois destroy Arriga, but the counterattack by the Erie drove the Seneca into the lands of the Onondaga.  The next year the whole Iroquois League petitioned the French for a military alliance because the war was going so badly, but they later managed to destroy Kentaienton all on their own.  By the end of 1656, most of the major fighting had ended.

After Arriga was destroyed in 1654, most of the surviving Arrigahaga/Rigueronon/Herekeenes removed southwest to the head of the Falls of Virginia, where the locals called them the ‘Rechahecrians’.  Along with some surviving Huron and members of the Shawnee and Powhatan and other peoples, these moved further south and southwest to become the Cherokee, and probably absorbed more refugees from the north as well. 

In 1662, a large group of the Oniansontke (800 warriors plus women, children, elders) settled across the river from the Susquehannock to aid them in the war with the Iroquois. 

The Iroquois reported the “final defeat” of the Erie to the French in 1664, but there were still independent Oniansontke on the middle Ohio River in 1669, and a large group (600) of Erie, the last reported as such, surrendered to the Seneca near Virginia in 1682.  That same year an anonymous French map showed the Oniasontke at head lake of a small tributary of the Ohio, or the Wabash, River, where maps continued to show them into the late 18th century; they may have merged into the Mingo nation.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Besides the Cherokee, those who were adopted by the various nations of the Iroquois League made up a large portion, perhaps even a majority, of the conglomerate people known as the Mingo, and so survive among their descendants as well.



This branch of Iroquoian-speaking peoples is made entirely of the Five, later Six, Nations of the League of the Iroquois.  Late nineteenth through twentieth century legend held that the Iroquois League has existed for six hundred to a thousand years, but in truth the league was not wholly formed even in the seventeeth century.  Throughout at least the early decades of that century, the western Iroquois and the eastern Iroquois operated as two separate but closely allied groups; Champlain referred to the western group (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga) as “Entouhronon” and the eastern group (Mohawk, Oneida) as “Iroquois” proper.

The Great Law, which established the League in its current form, most likely dates to no earlier than the early mid-seventeenth century.  Besides seeking more sources of beaver to trap for trade with European powers, one of the major motivating factors for the League’s conquest of other Iroquoian-speaking peoples was to bring them all under “one roof”, a crusade carried out with a missionary zeal reminiscent of that of the Arab tribes united by Muhammad seeking to bring all of Arabia under the “roof” of Islam.  This zeal was intensified by the drastic losses from the smallpox epidemic which swept through the region in 1635, reducing their bumers by 63%.

Nomenclature:  Though the Nations of the League have their own names for the confederacy, the most common autonym, the official one used in English, is “Haudenosaunee”.  The name outsiders most commonly use is “Iroquois”, the French form of an Algonquian-language name.

Territory:  The territory which the original Five Nations held at the French at the time of Champlain lay between the Genesee River in the west and the Hudson Valley and Green Mountains of Vermont in the east, southward from the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario into what is now northern Pennsylvania.  During the Beaver Wars of the seventeenth century, the League expanded this territory to include nearly all of the western Great Lakes regions, even for a time possessing seven towns on the north shores of Lake Ontario, and the Ohio Country, including the lands south to the Cumberland River.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  The original Five Nations were, west to east, the Seneca, the Cayuga, the Onondaga, the Oneida, and the Mohawk.  The Tuscarora were added in 1722, with the confederacy becoming the League of Six Nations, but on a less-than-equal status.  In 1740, the Cayuga brought in the Mississauga as a refugee nation, making the Confederacy the League of Seven Nations.

The Mohawk have always been recognized as the “elder brother” of the League.  The number of towns each Nation had varied, depending on level of hostilities with surrounding peoples.

The people of the Five Nations speak four distinct but mutually intelligible languages, the Mohawk and the Cayuga sharing one and the Seneca and the Onondaga another, while the Oneida, like later member the Tuscarora, having one all to itself.  A bit odd, considering the arrangement of their separate geographic locations at the formation of the League.

Fate:  As the overwhelming victors of the wars of the seventeenth century, the League not only thrived but grew.  Despite a number of splits in the eighteenth century, the League held together and eventually its separated parts came back to the central council fire.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  The League of Five (later Six) Nations invariably supported the British in their colonial wars against the French until the French and Indian War, when the League split.

The League supported the British against the French and the Wabanaki confederacy in King William’s War of 1688-1697.

The League fought for the British in Queen Anne’s War of 1702-1713.

The Mohawk supported the New England colonies against the Wabankaki confederacy and their native allies in Dummer’s War of 1722-1725.

The League again supported the British in King George’s War of 1744-1748.

In the French and Indian War of 1754-1763, a majority remained steadfast with the British, but a sizable minority chose to support the French, resulting in their secession and subsequent creation of the Seven Nations of Canada later formed:  Mohawk of Akwesasne, Mohawk of Kahnawake, Mohawk and Anishnaabeg (Algonkin and Nippising) of Kanesetake, Onondaga of Oswegatchie, Huron of Wendake, Abenaki of Odanak, and Abenaki of Wolinak.  This alliance lasted until after the War of 1812, supporting the British after their victory over New France.

The Seneca fought alongside the western tribes against the British in Pontiac’s War of 1763.

During the American Revolution, the League itself did not support either side.  The Oneida and the Tuscarora adhered to the cause of the American colonies while the Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga supported the British and the Mohawk split between the two.  After the war, a majority of the entire League moved north into Canada, though the “central fire”, along with a significant minority, remained in south in the United States.

Some Seneca participated in Tecumseh’s War of 1811-1813.

Both the League of Six Nations and the Seven Nations of Canada were members of the Western Confederacy during the Northwest Indian War.  Both also supported the British during the War of 1812, their last attempt to regain control over their lost colonies.

Descendants:  In Canada, homes of the League today include the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in Ontario, the Mohawk of Kahnawake, the Mohawk of Kanestake, the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne, the Thames Oneida in Ontario, the Tyendinaga Mohawk in Ontario, and the Wahta Mohawk in Ontario.

In the United States, there are the Seneca Nation, the Cayuga Nation, the Onondaga Nation, the Oneida Indian Nation, the Tuscarora Nation, the Kanatsiohareke Mohawk, the Ganienkeh Mohawk, and the St. Regis Band of Mohawk Indians in New York; the Oneida Tribe of Indians in Wisconsin; and the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, the “Seneca” portion of this group composed of the Mingo that became known as the “Seneca of Sandusky” who later combined with two separate groups of Cayuga that joined them decades apart.



Very little is known of these people at all, mostly from a couple of engagements in which the Huron attacked them in alliance with the French under Champlain.

Nomenclature:  The Huron called these people the ‘Scahentoarrhonon’, which Champlain corrupted into ‘Carantouannais’, which is closer to their Seneca name, ‘Carantowan’.  All of these mean ‘People of the Great Flats’.

Territory:  The Carantowan occupied the Wyoming Valley and the North Branch of the Susquehanna River in what’s now northern Pennsylvania, roughly three days south of the lands of the Seneca.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  There were three towns, but no mention was ever made of their being comprised of more than one tribes.

Fate:  They were destroyed or dispersed by their Seneca enemies in the third or fourth decade of the seventeenth century.  They were most likely absorbed by the Seneca, the Susquehanna, or, most likely, both.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Unknown.


Even less is known about these people than the Carantowan, only from one of two mentions.

Nomenclature:  The name means ‘People of the Demon’s Dens’.

Territory:  They occupied the upper West Branch of the Susquehanna.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  Unknown.

Fate:  Unknown.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Unknown.


Another little known group, known only from one or two mentions in early colonial records.

Nomenclature:  The name means ‘People of Standing Stone’.

Territory:  They occupied Juniata Branch of the Susquehanna.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  Unknown.

Fate:  Unknown.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Unknown.


A populous confedracy of six or seven tribes, this group was at one time rival to the League of Five Nations to the north, a position they gained by securing for themselves the position of primary trading partner with both New Amsterdam (and later New York) and Jamestown, for the northern tribes (the Occaneechi filled that spot for the southern tribes).  In the first instance, they conquered and displaced the Lenape to take their place. 

Their trading partners among the Iroquoian peoples were the Wenro, the Huron, the Erie, and the Massawomeck.  They were allied militarily at various times with the Huron, the Chonnonton, and the Erie.

Nomenclature:  Their autonym is unknown.  To the French, they were the ‘Andaste’, from ‘Andasteronon’, or the ‘Andastaron’.  To the Dutch, they were the ‘Black Minqua’.  A few hundred who went south from Iroquois territory in 1697 became known as the ‘Conestoga’.

Territory:  Centered on the Susquehanna River, they occupied the middle and lower valley and the lower valleys of some of the river’s tributaries.  At the height of the Beaver Wars, and to help protect themselves against the British colonials, the entire confederacy withdrew into one single fortified town, with several European canons, on the lower Susquehanna, some twelve thousand people with 1300 warriors.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  As mentioned above, this confederacy was made of six tribes, which we know from John Smith’s writing of them having six “kings”.  The main tribe were the Susquehannock, on the middle Susquehanna River at the time of first contact.  Twenty miles above them were the Quadrogue, and beyond them the Utchowig on a western branch and the Tesinigh on an eastern branch.  On a branch sixteen miles below the main tribe were the Attacock.  The Cepawig lived on the heads of the Patapasco River.  The Wysox may have been another tribe.

Fate:  The Susquehannock were destroyed as a power by the British colonies of Maryland and Virginia in 1675 after the two signed treaties of peace with the Five Nations, and due to the chaos of Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia.  The majority moved north and were absorbed by the Seneca and the Onondaga, but some fled south seeking refuge among the Meherrin and the Nottoway within the borders of modern southern Virginia.

Around 1697, the League gave leave to a few hundred of the former Susquehannock to remove south to Pennsylvania, where they established the town of Conestoga. 

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Though they took no part in any of the colonial struggles of the eighteenth century, the Conestoga remnant did not escape the ravages of colonial war.  In 1763, the “Paxton Boys” of Pennsylvania wiped out the surviving Conestoga in response to Pontiac’s War along the western frontier.

Descendants:  Though their origins are most likely forgotten, the bloodlines survive among the Seneca and the Onondaga of today.


The first record of these people comes from John Smith of Jamestown in the Colony of Virginia, with which the Massawomeck developed a thriving trade.

Nomenclature:  Their autonym is unknown; the Nanticoke called them the ‘Massawomeck’, which John Smith soon adopted.  The Powhatan called them ‘Pocaughtawonauk’.  French maps of the first half of the seventeenth century designate them as ‘Atiouandaron’.

Territory:  Probably on the North Branch and/or South Branch headwaters of the Potomac River, from which their canoe raids on the tribes of the Chesapeake bay area were greatly feared.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  According to the Massawomeck themselves, there were four of these, the towns with their satellite villages clearly equating to tribes: Tonhoga, Usserahak, Shaunnetowa, and Mosticum.

Fate:  Though the confederacy was apparently quite populous, numbering possibly ten to thirty thousand, there is no mention of them in any colonial records after 1635.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Not applicable.

Descendants:  Unknown.



The first of the groups whom their Algonquin-speaking neighbors called ‘Mangoak’, a southern form of the Lenape word ‘Mengwe’.

Nomenclature:  ‘Cheroenhaka’ is their autonym; ‘Nottoway’ is one of the names given them by their Algonquin neighbors.

Territory:  Originally living on the Nottway River in the southern Virginia Piedmont when first encountered by Edward Bland in 1650, they moved into what is now Surry County in 1681, then to Southampton County in 1694, both times to escape hostile tribes.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  The Nottoway were a single tribe, with a female head chief, living in three towns.

Fate:  After dwindling to to disease and warfare, most migrated north with the Tuscarora who joined the League of the Iroquois in 1722, though a small remnant remained south.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  The Nottoway of the south remained mostly quiet, though a small portion moved south to support South Carolina in the Yamasee War of 1715-1717.  The Nottoway who went north with the Tuscarora followed their hosts’ allegiances.

Descendants:  Their descendants survive in the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia and the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, both state-recognized tribes of Virginia.  Descendants also remain among the Tuscarora and the Oneida tribes in the north.


The second of the groups whom their Algonquin-speaking neighbors called ‘Mangoak’, a southern form of the Lenape word ‘Mengwe’.

Nomenclature: Their autonym is Kauwetsaka’.

Territory:  Their original home was along the Meherrin River west of the Nottoway when encountered by Edward Bland in 1650.  In the early eighteenth century, they moved south into North Carolina to evade encroachment by the growing colony of Virginia.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  They were a single tribe inhabiting no more than one or two towns.  A significant number of refugee Susquehannock joined them after their serious defeat by the Iroquois in 1675.

Fate:  The Meherrin were confirmed in their lands by the colony of North Carolina in 1726.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  They supported the southern Tuscarora who rose up against the colonies in the first phase of the Tuscarora War 1711-1712, and played little or not part in any of the subsequent actions during the century.

Descendants:  Their putative descendants survive as the Meherrin Nation, a state-recognized tribe in North Carolina.


The third of the groups whom their Algonquin-speaking neighbors called ‘Mangoak’, a southern form of the Lenape word ‘Mengwe’.

Territory:  When first encountered by Edward Bland in 1650, they occupied the valleys of the Roanoke, Neuse, Tar, and Pamlico Rivers in northeastern North Carolina.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  The Tuscarora were a confederacy of three distinct tribes, the Skaruren, the biggest and most important; the Katenuaka; and the Akawenteaka.  At the time of first contact, they had twenty-four towns and six thousand warriors; by 1708 this was reduced to fifteen towns and two thousand warriors.  By then, even while still recognizing the three tribes, the Tuscarora had reorganized geographically into two separate groups, a northern group on the Roanoke River and a southern group south of the Pamlico River.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  The southern Tuscarora conspired with several other tribes to attack settlements all along the North Carolina frontier to stop their encroachment, beginning the Tuscarora War of 1711-1713.  The northern Tuscarora fought alongside North Carolina and its colonial and native allies.  There, they supported the British against the French.  During the American Revolution, they supported the American colonists.

Fate:  After their defeat in the Tuscarora War, most of the southern group travelled north to refuge with the League of the Iroquois, who granted them nation status in 1722. 

In 1715, seventy warriors of the group who remained went south to aid South Carolina in the Yamasee War, and after it ended in 1717, they were granted lands to live on with their families and joined with groups of Nottoway and Meherrin who had come south into one tribe, which eventually assimilated.

Descendants:  Their descendants survive today primarily in the Tuscarora Nation in New York and the Tuscarora of the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario. 

Persons claiming to be of Tuscarora descent in North Carolina have organized several “tribes”, none recognized even by the state; however, nearly all remaining south after the Tuscarora War eventually joined their cousins in the north.


A little known group some think were Algonquin-speaking, but their language was mutually intelligible with an Iroquoian group to the north, and they were closely associated with the Tuscarora.  They were first encountered by the Roanoke colonists, who called them Cwarennoc.

Territory:  They lived on the peninsula south of Neuse River in what are now Cartet and Craven Counties in North Carolina.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  The Coree were a small tribe, but known to inhabit three towns or villages.  These were Coranine, Narhantes, and Raruta.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  The Coree took an active part in the Tuscarora War (1711-1715) on the side of the southern Tuscarora.

Fate:  After the Tuscarora War ended, the Coree were assigned to a reservation shared with the remnant of the Machapunga where their numbers dwindled until the tribe became extinct.


The Roanoke colony first heard of these people being involved in a war with tribes to the north.

Territory:  They lived on the lower Neuse River.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  The two known were Chattooka and Rouconk, though they probably had more earlier.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Like their Coree neighbors, the the Neusiok fought in the Tuscarora War on the side of the southern Tuscarora.

Fate:  Already a dwindling people, they merged with the Tuscarora after the war.



Originated as a composite tribe of refugee Huron and Petun later joined by some Chonnonton during the height of the Beaver Wars. 

Nomenclature:  ‘Wyandot’ is just a corruption of the name ‘Wendat’, the autonym of both the Petun and the Huron.  The Mohawk call them the ‘Tionontatecaga’, the same by which they earlier knew the Petun. 

This Mohawk name appears on various maps in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in the same location as the ‘Atiouandaron’ of trans-Appalachian western Virginia, which, if accurate, accounts for the name of the Guyandotte River (the Petun and the Huron both used autonym ‘Wendat’).

Territory:  Most of the Attignawantan of the Huron confederacy had taken refuge with the Petun in 1648.  Near the end of the following year, the combined group migrated west with the Ottawa to Mackinac Island.  In the winter of 1652-1653, the tribe stayed at Teaontofai near a free band of Chonnonton at Skenchioe (the Thumb of Michigan) near Teochanontian (Detroit).  In the spring, both groups removed with the Ottawa to Aotonatendie (Door Peninsula of Green Bay), later transferring to Rock Island nearby where they merged.  From 1658 to 1665 they wandered in northern Wisconsin before settling at Sainte-Esprit.  Upon conflict with the Dakota, they left for Sainte-Ignace in 1671, where they stayed until the French built Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit in 1701 after the Great Peace.  There the Wyandot became the elder brothers of the French-alled tribes who also settled there.

In 1671, the Betts and Fallam expedition  into the Virginia interior learned a group of Iroquoian-speaking Indians had migrated to the Guyandotte Valley in southwestern West Virginia earlier that year.  They are shown at that location on maps of various cartographers from 1680 through 1718 under the Mohawk name for the Wyandot (and earlier Petun) tribe, ‘Tionontatecaga’.  The name for the river valley clearly derives from their autonym, Wendat or Wyandot.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  By the time of their arrival at Detroit, the Wyandot had become a single entity, composed from the majority of both tribes of Petun, the Attignawantan of the Huron, the Wenro refugees among the Petun, and that remnant band of Chonnonton.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  In the early part of the century, the Wyandot universally supported the French.  In 1738, the Wyandot at Detroit split between those who continued to support the French and those who heeded Iroquois entreaties to move to the Ohio Country and supported the British.  The latter, under Orontony (also known as Nicholas), first moved to the Lower Sandusky after refusing to join an attack against the Cherokee (in revenge for their support of the Chickasaw), then in 1748 into the Ohio Valley.

During the French and Indian War, the Wyandot of the Ohio Country supported the British while their cousins around Detroit supported the French.

Both factions took part in Pontiac’s War of 1763 alongside all the other western tribes.

In the American Revolution, both groups supported the British.  Both groups were also members of the Western Confederacy and fought the Americans in the Northwest Indian War.

Fate:  The ‘Tionontatecaga’ of the Guyandotte Valley cease to be mentioned after 1718; they may have died out from disease and warfare, been absorbed by the Iroquois, joined the Cherokee, or moved northeast to merge with the former Erie of Mingo Flats, West Virginia.

The Wyandot of Sandusky were removed to Kansas, then part of Indian Territory, in 1843, and the majority of those to Oklahoma, to which Indian Territory was reduced when Kansas became a state in 1855.

Descendants:  The Wyandotte Nation, in Oklahoma, is the only federally-recognized tribe in the USA, and is composed of descendants of those moved south in 1855. 

The Wyandotte Nation of Kansas, state-recognized, is composed of those who had become U.S. citizens by 1855 and remained there.

The Wyandots of Anderdon, headquartered in Trenton, Michigan, and living in the cross border region of Michigan and Ontario, descend from those Wyandot who remained in the Detroit area in 1738 and mostly acculturated, though without losing memory of their origins.


When first visited by the English, the Cherokee were a confederacy of fifty to sixty independent towns of Iroqouian-speakers in the southern Appalachian region grouped into five divisions or “council fires”.  Their origin, however, was in the north.

Though ethnologists and historians from the late nineteenth century have maintained that the Cherokee are of ancient origin, arising in the territory in which the English encountered them in the late eighteenth century, historians and missionaries among them from the eighteenth century until the late nineteenth universally recognized their “foreign” roots.  Even some of the oldest tales of the Cherokee themselves point to this origin.

The nucleus of those who later became the Cherokee originated as members of the Riqueronon tribe of the Erie confederacy, appearing as the ‘Richahechrians’ in Virginia in 1654, identified as the ‘Rickohockans’ in western North Carolina in 1670.

According to Moravian missionaries and others in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Cherokee were made of former Erie (including from the other tribes), Huron, Shawnee, Powhatan, and other refugees from wars among natives and against European colonists.  In addition, they assimilated the remnants of Mississippian peoples remaining in the areas they settled rather than allowing themselves to be displaced.

Nomenclature:  Their most common autonym in the Cherokee language is ‘Ani-Yunwiya’

The common name by which they are known, and that contained in the official names of each of their three (four) modern tribes, ‘Cherokee’, derives from the extinct dialect of Lower Cherokee; otherwise they would be known as ‘Chelokee’.  It may be related to the name which Champlain most commonly referred to the Huron after 1613, ‘Charioquois’. 

The first notice of them in English colonial (1674) records calls them the ‘Chiokees’.  They first appear on French maps in three groups of towns, presumably by their distinct dialects, as the ‘Tchalaka’, ‘Katugi’, and ‘Taligui’.  The first is the same as above; the second is similar to ‘Quatoghi’, the Mohawk name for the Huron; the third is identical to the Lenape name for the Erie and is still their name for the Cherokee, and, under the alternate version ‘Allegewi’, is also similar to another name Champlain used for the Huron, ‘Allegonantes’.

Among the Five Nations Iroquois, the Cherokee were known as ‘Oyatageronon’.  The Seneca called them ‘Oyadageono’.  The Onondaga called them ‘Tkwetaheuhane’.  The Wyandot name was ‘Wataiyoronon’.  The Catawba name was ‘Manteran’.

Territory:  As the Cherokee, they originally occupied the Southern Appalachian region in East and Southeast Tennessee, western North Carolina, northwest South Carolina, and northeast Georgia.  Later, during the Revolution, they shifted to Southeast Tennessee, western North Carolina, North Georgia, and Northeast Alabama.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  English traders and explorers identified sixty-four towns a decade before the devastating smallpox epidemic of 1738 and fifty-four a decade after.  Though made of many diverse peoples, they had no separate “tribes”.  They spoke three major Iroquoian-based dialects, the southernmost differing significantly from the others two.  The first of these was referred to as “Lower Cherokee”, spoken almost exclusively in the Lower Towns, which in the early decades of contact comprised half the Cherokee population.  The second was referred to as “Middle Cherokee”, and was spoken in the Middle and Out Towns.  The third was referred to as “Upper Cherokee”, and was spoken by those in the Valley and Overhill Towns.

Politically, the Cherokee grouped themselves into five “council fires”, known by their English designations.  These “council fires” were a matter of geographic social and political convenience rather than hard divisions.  The Out Towns stood along the Tuckasegee and Oconluftee Rivers in the foothils of the Great Smoky Mountains; the Valley Towns along the Valley and Upper Hiwasee Rivers in southewestern North Carolina; the Middle Towns on the upper Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers and Little Tellico Creek in western North Carolina; the original Lower Towns along the Chattooga, Keowee, and Tugaloo Rivers, and the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River in northwestern South Carolina and Northeast Georgia; and the Overhill Towns along the lower Little Tennessee and Tellico Rivers in east and southeast Tennessee, and later the Hiwasee and Ocoee Rivers as well.

During the Cherokee-American wars of the late eighteenth century, these division evolved into five new groupings as the population shifted west.  The Middle Towns (except those on the Natahala River) and the original Lower Towns were completely abandoned.  The Out Towns (now including those on Nantahala) became known as the Hill Towns, the Valley Towns and the Overhill Towns remained, and two new groupings appeared, the Upper Towns in North Georgia and the Chickamauga Towns in the Chattanooga region.  The later removed even further west to southern Marion County, Tennessee, and areas of Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama, where they became known as the “new” Lower Towns.

In 1794, they officially became the Cherokee Nation, but most power remained with the five councils of the local regions.  In 1809, the individual regional councils were officially abolished, though for all intents and purposes the divisions remained until 1820, when the Cherokee National Council divided the nation into eight legislative and judicial districts.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Besides wars with the Iroquois, the Creek, the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, the Shawnee, the Catawba, and the Yuchi, the Cherokee fought more actions against European colonial powers than any other southern native group, and more than any other Iroquoian-speaking people.

In 1708, they joined the Abikha and the Catawba in a campaign against the French at Mobile that ended with the destruction of the town of the French-allied Mobile Indians.

In the Tuscarora War of 1711-1713, they fought as allies of South Carolina and North Carolina against the Tuscarora and their native allies.

In the Yamasee War of 1715-1717, they began as allies of the insurgent Yamasee and their fellow “rebels” but switched sides mid-way to that of the British colonies of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

In the Third Natchez War of 1729-1731, they fought alongside the Chickasaw after 1730 in support of the Natchez.

They again supported the Chickasaw in the First French-Chickasaw War of 1736, earning enough enmity that the French planned a major invasion in 1738 that was aborted by the division of the Wyandot.

From 1755 to 1756, they fought a war against North Carolina over encroachment of settlers into Cherokee territory that only ended when the British called them into service against the French.

The Cherokee started out the French and Indian War as allies of the British, then quit and switched sides, fighting the Anglo-Cherokee War of 1758-1761.

In Lord Dunmore’s War of 1774, small groups of Cherokee fought alongside the Mingo, Lenape, and Shawnee, other small groups attacked frontier settlements in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

They sided with the British in the American Revolution, fighting in most of the actions in the South in which native groups engaged.

The Cherokee were founding members of the Western Confederacy and fought in the Northwest Indian War of 1783-1795.

Simultaneous with the the above two wars, they fought their own campaigns against the frontier American settlements in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia, and the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, in the Cherokee-American wars of 1776-1794.  In this, they had as allies Great Britain until 1783, then New Spain, the Creek, and the Shawnee.

Though condemnation by Cherokee leaders of Tecumseh was nearly universal, small groups of warriors nonetheless travelled north to fight in his confederacy.

During the War of 1812, the Cherokee supported the Americans against the British.

A regiment of Cherokee fought under Andrew Jackson in the Creek War of 1813-1814.

Fate:  Small groups of Cherokee had long roamed west of the Mississippi River, most returning though many also stayed, but in 1809, the first large group migrated to Arkansas Territory, becoming the foundation of the Cherokee Nation West.  After this, those remaining in the former homeland became known informally as the Cherokee Nation East.

After the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, emigration rate increased, and in much larger groups.  Most of those remaining were forcibly removed west to Indian Territory in 1838-1839.  The Cherokee along the Oconaluftee and Nantahala Rivers, already outside the bounds of the Nation by earlier land cessions, were allowed to stay, as were partially or largely acculturated residents of the Valley Towns.

The Cherokee remaining east managed to avoid dissolution in the early nineteenth century largely due to the anamolous relationship with the state vis-à-vis the federal government.  The Cherokee Nation East and the Cherokee Nation West merged in 1839; the Cherokee Nation dissolved in 1905 under the Dawes Act.

Descendants:  The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is composed of desecendants of the Oconaluftee, Nanatahala, and Valley Cherokee who evaded Removal. 

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is made up of descendants of the Cherokee Nation West and the Cherokee forcibly removed from the East.

The United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians, also based in Oklahoma, is composed of descendants of the same populations as the CNO, but requires a one-fourth blood quantum.

All three of the above are federally-recognized.

The Texas Cherokees and Associate Bands-Mount Tabor Indian Community is composed of descendants of Cherokee who moved south in from the 1840’s and of smaller among whom they came to be seen as “elder brothers”, particularly during the wars with the Republic and later Sate of Texas.  Until their disenfranchisement at the organization of the CNO in 1975, they had seats on the Cherokee National Council that remained after the dissolution of the original Cherokee Nation in 1905.


This people are known solely from their appearance on maps.  They are almost certainly the 600 people of the Nation des Chats”  who surrendered to the Iroquois “near Virginia” in 1682, who were referred to as “Black Mingoes” in Pennsylvania accounts of that event.  They were being chased and harassed by “southern Indians”, possibly Yuchi.

Nomenclature:  The name Tionontatecaga was the Mohawk designation for the Wyandot, the composite group of Huron-Petun-Chonnonton who took up residence at Fort Ponchatrain du Detroit in 1701.  The use of the name for this group on maps indicates they were of roughly the same composition.  Nation des Chats, of course, was the primary name by which the French referred to the Erie, and Black Mingoes was the English version of the Dutch and Swedish term for the Erie.

Territory:  The Tionontatecaga lived in the Guyandotte Valley to which they gave their name.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  None that are known.

Fate:  Unknown for sure.  Most likely eventually migrated north to the protection of the League, but some remained and their descendants relocated to Tygarts Valley where they lived at Mingo Flats.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  Unless they became part of the Mingo, none that is known.


The Mingo were a population that emerged in the early 1700s, made up largely of descendants former Erie, Huron, Chonnonton, and Susquehannock adopted by the various nations of the Iroquois League and given leave to settle west of the League homeland, provided they remained loyal, much the same way as the Susquehannock who became the Conestoga.

At first they inhabited the valleys of western Pennsylvania alongside and among the Lenape, Munsee (originally a Lenape subtribe that became more or less separate), and Shawnee, as at Logstown (est. c. 1725) near the later Fort Dusquene and even later Fort Pitt.  After the French and Indian War, the Mingo, along with their allies, spread to the Ohio Country.

Another major source were the Erie who surrendered en masse in 1682 and were allowed to remain in Mingo Flats, West Virginia, until the outbreak of the French and Indian War.

The Erie subtribe Oniasontke which remained on the Ohio (or Wabash) River probably merged into the Mingo, though maps continued to show them about a lake which was the head of a tributary into the Wabash into the late 18th century.

Individuals and small groups from the Five Nations also merged with groups of Mingo.

Nomenclature:  The name Mingo derives directly from the Dutch ‘Minqua’, their version of the Lenape word ‘Mengwe’, a general designation for all Iroquoian-speakers.  Less commonly, the people in question were also called ‘Blue Mingo’, primarily to distinguish them from the White Mingo (Susquehannock), Black Mingo (Erie), Little Mingo (Huron), and Big Mingo (Five Nations Iroquois), though most groups of Mingo were composites of these.

Territory:  While in western Pennsylvania, the Mingo had only minor independence, and it was not until after the French and Indian War when they migrated into Ohio Country away from the League’s direct control that they flowered.

The people at Mingo Flats in eastern West Virginia moved to what became Crow’s Town at the later Mingo Junction in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1755, because they sided with the French rather than the British.  Later the settlement spread across river to Old Mingo Bottom in Follansbee, West Virginia, but retreated back after the Treaty of Stanwix in 1768.  After the multi-ethnic Logstown was abandoned in 1759 when Fort Pitt was constructed atop the ruins of Fort Duquesne, this was the only Indian town on the Ohio River between it and the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville, Kentucky).  Crow’s Town was abandoned after Dunmore’s War in 1774.

Most of the towns and villages the Mingo inhabited were multi-ethnic, and few permanent.  The most important were those along the Sandusky and Scioto Rivers in western Ohio, at least after the French and Indian War.

Towns and/or constituent tribes:  The Mingo were a collection of multi-ethnic Iroquoian-speaking groups.

Fate:  The various bands of Mingo eventually coalesced into two major groups, the ‘Seneca of Sandusky’, upriver from the Wyandot, and the ‘Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee’ on the Scioto River who founded Lewistown, Ohio.  There were likely few, if any, actual Seneca in either group. 

The Seneca of Sandusky absorbed a group of Cayuga in 1807.

Both the Seneca of Sandusky and the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee relocated from Ohio to Indian Territory in 1831, the latter becoming the United Nation of Seneca and Shawnee in 1832 while the former became the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, which assimilated a group of Cayuga from Canada in 1881.

Colonial wars of the 1700s:  The first time the Mingo took part in the colonial wars was during the French and Indian War alongside their close allies the Shawnee and the Lenape as well as the others natives in the north supporting the French.  Their fight in this war ended along with that of the other two mentioned in 1758.

They participated in Pontiac’s War with the other western tribes of the north in 1763.

In 1774, they instigated Lord Dunmore’s War, fought mostly in Kentucky and the Ohio Country with their close allies the Shawnee and the Lenape plus small parties of Cherokee.

During the American Revolution, they sided with the British against the colonists.

They were members of the Western Confederacy and fought in the Northwest Indian War.

Some Mingo took part in Tecumseh’s War of 1811-1813.

In the War of 1812, they sided with the British against the Americans.

Descendants:  Descendants of the Mingo live in the Seneca-Cayuga Nation in Oklahoma and among the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, successor of the United Seneca and Shawnee; their bloodlines also probably survive among other Shawnee and Lenape tribes.