Oneida Tribe


Oneida Locations

The Oneida, ō’nīdu, are one of the five original tribes of the Iroquois League. They controlled the wedge of territory in central New York between the Mohawk tribe to the east and the Onondaga tribe to the west in a region around Oneida Creek, a stream that flows into Oneida Lake where they set up fishing stations. The Oneida controlled the Wood Creek and Mohawk Valleys. Their hunting territories extended north of this region to the Saint Lawrence and south to the Susquehanna (Campisi 481, 1978). In the years after the American Revolution, the Oneida were persuaded to sell most of their New York lands and resettle westward. With the loss of their land in the east, the Oneida eventually divided into three groups. Some stayed in New York with the Onondaga on their reservation lands near Syracuse, while others remained on their original lands near Utica. This group still holds one parcel of land there, which is not classified as an official state reservation.

The next group moved to Ontario, Canada as part of the Six Nations Reserve at Oshweken on the Grand River. Others can also be found at the Thames River Reservation in Ontario. The third group began to immigrate to Wisconsin in 1823 and can be found close to Green Bay in Brown and Outagamie Counties (Ritzenthaler 10-11, 1950). The Oneida Reservation encompasses twelve square miles within its boundaries, of which only a little over 2500 acres remains Oneida lands, which is held tribally. Many Oneida people, thanks to allotment after 1887, live and work in the Green Bay-De Pere area but take an active interest in reservation activities and tribal government. The Oneida language still spoken by some elders is Iroquoian, a major language stock entirely distinct from the varied yet related Algonkian languages of other Wisconsin tribes (Lurie 12, 2002).

Huron Smith conducted ethnobotanical fieldwork among the Oneida in 1929. He began his trip to Oneida, Wisconsin on July 11. Upon arrival the next day, he set up his field station in the yard of Mrs. Electra Powless. Mrs. Powless’ 89 year old father, Solomon Skenadore, spent much time helping him learn the Oneida language. Smith collected plants between August 10th and September 23rd in and around the town of Oneida. He gathered material from nearby woods, a tamarack swamp, along the nearby Duck Creek, and at Big Hill on the Oneida reservation (Luebke, Abbott 7, unpublished).

Campisi, Jack. 1978. Oneida. In: Bruce G. Trigger, ed. Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 15, pp. 481-490. Smithsonian, Washington D.C.

Luebke, Neil T. and Abbott, Clifford. (unpublished). Huron H. Smith’s Ethnobotany of the Oneida.

Lurie, Nancy Oestreich. 2002. Wisconsin Indians. The State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Madison, WI.

Ritzenthaler, Robert E. 1950. The Oneida Indians of Wisconsin. In: Bulletin of The Public Museum of The City of Milwaukee. Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 1-52. Milwaukee, WI.

Oneida Items