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The People of the Standing Stone

The Oneida Nation from Revolution through the Era of Removal

Karim M. Tiro

Publication Year: 2011

Between 1765 and 1845, the Oneida Indian Nation weathered a trio of traumas: war, dispossession, and division. During the American War of Independence, the Oneidas became the revolutionaries’ most important Indian allies. They undertook a difficult balancing act, helping the patriots while trying to avoid harming their Iroquois brethren. Despite the Oneidas’ wartime service, they were dispossessed of nearly all their lands through treaties with the state of New York. In eighty years the Oneidas had gone from being an autonomous, powerful people in their ancestral homeland to being residents of disparate, politically exclusive reservation communities separated by up to nine hundred miles and completely surrounded by non-Indians. The Oneidas’ physical, political, and emotional division persists to this day. Even for those who stayed put, their world changed more in cultural, ecological, and demographic terms than at any time before or since. Oneidas of the post-Revolutionary decades were reluctant pioneers, undertaking more of the adaptations to colonized life than any other generation. Amid such wrenching change, maintaining conti-nuity was itself a creative challenge. The story of that extraordinary endurance lies at the heart of this book.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

Title Page

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pp. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv

Table of Contents

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pp. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xvii

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Indian claims to land and sovereign rights once again roil New York’s political waters. None has generated more controversy than the Oneida nation’s effort to recoup their 250,000- acre reservation in the center of the state, and their operation of a lucrative casino. ...

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pp. xix-xxi

I have taken a good, long while to write The People of the Standing Stone and have accrued many professional and personal debts in the process. Richard Dunn and James H. Merrell guided me through the early stages of this project with patience, wisdom, and good humor. Richard Beeman, Nancy Farriss and Mike Zuckerman, were also very helpful. I had the benefit of a superb graduate cohort at the University of Pennsylvania, ...

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1: A Place and a People in a Time of Change: The Oneida Homeland in the 1760s

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pp. 1-19

By 1765, over 130 years of direct contact with Europeans had wrought deep and disturbing changes in Oneida lives. Although the most devastating effects of imported diseases such as smallpox and influenza had passed, the Oneidas remained vulnerable, and their population of approximately one thousand was probably less than half their number at the time of contact. ...

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2: Narrowing Paths: Oneida Foreign Relations, 1763– 1775

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pp. 20-38

Greater change was on the way as Britain’s colonies grew more populous and their place in the empire suddenly more tenuous. The Oneida villages may have been localistic, but they were hardly isolated. In addition to their situation near waterways, an extensive and well-maintained system of paths kept Oneida villages in constant communication with one another, the rest of the Iroquois League...

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3: The Dilemmas of Alliance: The Oneidas’ American Revolution, 1775– 1784

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pp. 39-64

The American Revolution has helped to define the distinct national identity of the Oneida people more than any other episode in modern history. In that war, the Oneidas broke with mainstream confederacy opinion and aligned themselves with the colonists. As with the abortive Algonquian settlement, this policy did little to enhance their standing among their fellow Iroquois. ...

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4: Misplaced Faith: A Decade of Dispossession, 1785–1794

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pp. 65-95

Four years after the end of the Revolution, the chief warrior and spokesman Good Peter contrasted the postwar expectations of many Oneidas with their reality. Within that brief period, white settlement surrounded the Oneidas, who lost nearly all their lands and suffered tremendous internal strife. Things were not supposed to have worked out that way. For the Oneidas, the gratitude of the United States and New York proved ...

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5: In a Drowned Land: State Treaties and Tribal Division, 1795– 1814

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pp. 96-128

The arrival of “shoals” of settlers in the Oneidas’ vicinity promoted an atmosphere conducive to land sales. By 1814 the reservation would be landlocked and surrounded by nearly seventy-five thousand whites. As settlers’ cattle invaded their gardens and settlers’ seines blocked their streams, the Oneidas found it harder to conduct their customary economic activities. Taverns and trade houses proliferated. The mixture of drink and debt was ...

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6: The Nation in Fragments: Oneida Removal, 1815– 1836

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pp. 129-156

The story of the removal of Indians from the Southern states is well-known, since it involved relatively large tribes and exacerbated the sectional tensions that eventually set off the Civil War. There was, however, considerable irony in Northerners’ loud denunciations of Southern removal, because they had pioneered the enterprise. When the Treaty of Butte des Morts, involving the Menominee and Ojibwe nations, was before the U.S. ...

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7: Diaspora and Survival, 1836– 1850

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pp. 157-186

The 1835 Treaty of New Echota between the Cherokees and the United States ranks among the most infamous treaties in the history of the United States’ relationship with Native peoples. That treaty, which paved the way for the Cherokee Trail of Tears, exchanged the Cherokees’ southeastern homeland for lands in Oklahoma. It was signed at a council by only a minority of Cherokees. The majority boycotted the proceedings in ...

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pp. 187-192

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Oneidas had lost all but two tiny slivers of their ancestral homeland. It had been a rapid descent— all within the lifetime of any octogenarian. In 1770, traveling the length of Oneida territory took several days. In 1850, it took only several minutes. The loss of land constrained the Oneidas’ ability to pursue the economic, political, social, and cultural patterns by which they had sustained ...

Appendix. Selected Oneida Population Counts, 1763– 1856

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pp. 193


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pp. 195-221


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pp. 197-240


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pp. 241-247

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613760000
E-ISBN-10: 1613760000
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558498891
Print-ISBN-10: 1558498893

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 15
Publication Year: 2011