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Seneca Indians,

The fifth nation of the Iroquois Confederacy (q. v. ), which inhabited the country in New York west of Sodus Bay and Seneca Lake to the Niagara River. They called themselves Tsonnundawaono, or “dwellers in the open country.” Tradition says that at the formation of the great confederacy Hiawatha said to them, “You, Senecas, a people who live in the ‘open country,’ and possess much wisdom, shall be the fifth nation, because you understand better the art of raising corn and beans and making cabins.” The Dutch called them Sinnekaas, which the English spelled Senecas, and they were denominated the Western Door of the Long House—the confederacy. They were divided into five clans—viz., the Turtle, Snipe, Hawk, Bear, and Wolf, and were represented in the great council or congress by seven sachems. There was a small family on the borders of the Niagara River, called Neuters, whose domain formed the western boundary of the Seneca territory; also the Erikes, or Eries, south of Lake Erie. On the east they joined the Senecas. By the conquest of the Hurons, most of the Neuters, the Series, and Andastes (or Susquehannas) were incorporated with the Senecas.

The French Jesuits began a mission among them in 1657; and afterwards the Senecas permitted La Salle to erect a block-house on the site of Fort Niagara. They also allowed the French to build a fort on the same spot in 1712. The Senecas alone of the six Nations (q. v. ) joined Pontiac in his conspiracy in 1763. They destroyed Venango, attacked Fort Niagara, and cut off an army train on that frontier. In the Revolutionary War they sided with the British, and their country was devastated by General Sullivan in 1779. After the war they made peace, by treaty, at Fort Stanwix (Fort Schuyler); and their land passed, by sale and cession, into the possession of the white people, excepting the reservations of Alleghany, Cattaraugus, and Tonawanda— 66,000 acres. They were the friends of the Americans in the War of 1812, and furnished men for the armies. A part of them, settled on Stony Creek, in Canada, and at Sandusky, O., joined the hostile tribes in the West, but made peace in 1815. These removed to the Indian Territory on the Neosho, in 1831. Protestant missions have been in operation among them since the beginning of this century, and the Society of Friends has done much to aid and protect them. In 1899 there were 2,767 at the New York agency, and 323 at the Quapaw agency in Indian Territory.

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