Onöndowa'ga:' history timeline
Timeline compiled by Dr. Randy John, from countless dates and years of Onöndowa'ga:' history
Onöndowa'ga:' (Seneca) Timeline
Aug. 31, 1142 Tododaho accepts a five-nation alliance to create the Great Law (Hodinöhsö:ni). See Underwood, Mann, and Fields, 1997.
1613 The Tawagonshi Agreement of 1613—a Chain of Friendship in the Dutch Hudson Valley. (The Two Row Wampum Belt is 400 years old in 2013).
1649 The Ganyë:geonö' (Mohawk) and Onöndowa'ga:' military campaign dismantles the Huron Confederacy.
1657 or 1658 The Onöndowa'ga:' begin treaty relations with the Dutch.
1664 The Ganyë:geonö', Onöndowa'ga:' and English establish friendship and trade relations via treaty at Albany (formerly Fort Orange).
1677, April & May The "silver" Covenant Chain treaties with Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York commence with the Hodinöhsö:ni' and the "River Indians" of the Hudson Valley.
1687, July Governor General of New France Jacques-Rene de Brisay de Denonville, Marquis de Denonville destroys many abandoned Onöndowa'ga:' villages in retaliation for Beaver War hostilities. This effort is an unsuccessful attempt to eliminate the Onöndowa'ga:' as a competitor in the lucrative beaver trade in the world economy.
1689, Summer Onöndowa'ga:' establish peace with the Odawas (Ottawas).
1701, Aug.-Sept. The Hodinöhsö:ni' negotiate peace with the French and their Native allies. This treaty declares Hodinöhsö:ni' neutrality with the French and English.
1709, Summer Onöndowa'ga:' establish peace with the Odawas (Ottawas), again.
1730, Oct. The Meskwaki people (Fox Nation) request protection and residence in Onöndowa'ga:' territories. It is at war with New France. At the same time, the captive and adopted Onöndowa'ga:' Sonochiez (the French agent and interpreter, Louis-Thomas Chabert De Joncaire) requests permission for the French to build a trading post at Irondequoit. The Onöndowa'ga:' approve a trading post there in 1737.
1732, Aug. Gayogweo:nö' (Cayuga), O'nëyotga:' (Oneida), & Onöndowa'ga:' chiefs meet with Thomas Penn and James Logan (Pa.). Pennsylvania proposes a Chain of Friendship with the Hodinöhsö:ni' and requests recall of the Shawnee and Delaware to Pennsylvania.
1744, June-July The Hodinöhsö:ni' agree to a treaty at Lancaster, Pa. with Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, which sold rights of occupancy. In this treaty, the Virginians secretly deceive the negotiators and include (steal) the Ohio country and more for the Ohio Company of Virginia.
1748-1754 Onöndowa'ga:' adoptee, Tanaghrisson, represents the Hodinöhsö:ni' in the Ohio Valley. The Hodinöhsö:ni' assign him to speak for the Ohio Delaware. His title in this period is the “Half King." He accompanies George Washington in the Battle of Jumonville Glen and reputedly kills the French leader Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville—an action that sparks the French and Indian War (otherwise known as the Seven Years War).
1755, Oct. The new French Governor Genera—the Marquis de Vaudreuil—woos the Onöndowa'ga:' as an ally against the British. This action is timely in regards to General Braddock's (British) defeat in 1754 at the Battle at Monongahela.
1761, Spring Two Onöndowa'ga:' spokesmen—Gayahso:dö' (Gayasuta, Kiashuta) and Tahaiadoris—present a six-part plan to the "Western Nations" (Odawa, Ojibwa, Shawnee, and Wyandot) for a pan-Indian war against the British. Odawa leader, Pontiac, is present, but advises against it, as the western nations had not been hostile to the British. The Nations reject the plan. Two years later, Pontiac moves the plan forward in an military action now known as the Pontiac- Gayahso:dö' Rebellion.
1763-1764 Sir William Johnson reprimands the Onöndowa'ga:' in the rebellion against the British forts. Onöndowa'ga:' seek peace with the British and cede land at Niagara.
1768 In the Treaty of Fort Stanwix of 1768 with the Hodinöhsö:ni' and the British, William Johnson defies his specific orders from his British superiors and fails to protect the interests of the Hodinöhsö:ni'. He negotiates land beyond the original British plan—the land agreed upon with the Hodinöhsö:ni' in 1765 during preliminary negotiations. Note: Johnson had invested in land near the headwaters of the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers that is included in the 1768 Fort Stanwix Treaty.
1770-71 Chenussio (Genesee Valley) Onöndowa'ga:' leader, Guastarax, circulates a war belt to the Western Indians to fight the British.
1784 Peace and Land “Treaty” negotiations with the U.S. at Fort Stanwix. The Onöndowa'ga:' suffer land lost in Ohio country and in Pennsylvania. The Americans treat the Onöndowa'ga:' harshly due to its loyalty to the British during the American Revolution. The Hodinöhsö:ni' do not approve the treaty when it meets at Buffalo Creek and censures Onöndowa'ga:' War Chief, Cornplanter, for his role as mediator at those treaty negotiations.
1788 Phelps and Gorham purchase from Massachusetts the rights to preemption to Onöndowa'ga:' land.
1789 Treaty at Fort Harmar confirms the land concessions and provisions of the 1784 Fort Stanwix Treaty.
1790-91 Cornplanter, Half Town, and Big Tree request justice for the Onöndowa'ga:' land losses in the 1784 Fort Stanwix Treaty. U.S. President, George Washington, enlists the help of the Quakers in the Onöndowa'ga:' accommodation to a farming economy.
1791 On Feb. 3rd, 1791, Big Tree, Cornplanter, and Halftown treat with Pennsylvania on behalf of the Onöndowa'ga:' to extinguish all claims to the Erie triangle for $800.00. U.S. Secretary of War, Henry Knox, delays the establishment of Presque Isle (located within the Erie Triangle) to prevent war, as there was no consensus that the U.S. obtained this land legally. Some Onöndowa'ga:' are upset about squatters, surveying, and U.S. military presence in the Erie triangle.
1794 The Pickering Treaty (Treaty at Canandaigua)—a treaty of perpetual peace and friendship between the Hodinöhsö:ni' and the United States. The treaty recognizes, explicitly, Hodinöhsö:ni' and Onöndowa'ga:' sovereignty. The agreement also returns some Onöndowa'ga:' land that was taken in the 1784 Fort Stanwix Treaty. This treaty includes all the Hodinöhsö:ni' Nations, but is primarily orchestrated to establish peace and friendship with the Onöndowa'ga:' to prevent their alliance with the warring Ohio Nations. The U.S. delivers $4,500.00 worth of treaty cloth (now muslin) to the Hodinöhsö:ni’ each year as mandated by this treaty’s terms, as recognition that it still respects and honors that treaty.
1796, March 9 The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grants Gayëntwahgöh (Corn planter) Oil City, Jonöhsade:gëh (Corn planter Grant), and two islands for his advocacy during the Ohio Indian Wars. Gayëntwahgöh sells Oil City to General John Wilkins, Jr. on May 18, 1796.
1797 Sep. 15 Robert Morris’ son (Thomas) negotiates the Treaty of Big Tree for his father, who is under house arrest due to personal debts. In this agreement, the Onöndowa'ga:' give up all land claims west of the preemption line for $100,000.00. It retains 11 territories, or “reservations.” One Territory, Oil Spring, is inadvertently omitted from the original agreement, but is later retained in a separate document.
1797 The Quakers accept Gayëntwahgöh’s invitation to teach his people agriculture and send Henry Simmons, Jr. to Jonöhsade:gëh. Henry sets up a school in Gayëntwahgöh’s house.
1798, May 17 The Quakers send three more Quakers—Joel Swayne, Halliday Jackson, and Henry Simmons, Jr.—to Jonöhsade:gëh.
1799, Aug. 8 Sga:nyodai:yoh (Handsome lake) has his first vision at Jonöhsade:gëh, with messages from the Creator as to how to strengthen the Ögwe'öweh (“Real People”) way of life during this time of turmoil. Many Hodinöhsö:ni’ continue to practice the Gaiwi:yoh, which is based on several of his visions.
1802, June The Onöndowa'ga:' sell Little Beard’s town to the U.S. for $1,200.00.
1799 Two Quakers—Jacob Taylor and Jonathan Thomas—arrive at Jonöhsade:gëh from Oneida.
1800 In Philadelphia, Shagoyewa:ta’ (Red Jacket) and three other chiefs ask the Quakers to build a sawmill at Buffalo Creek and intimate that the Tonawanda territory would be “very accepting” to the same. Within three years, the Quakers send sawmill irons to each territory.
1802, Aug. The Onöndowa'ga:' sell a one mile strip from the Buffalo Creek Territory (to Black Rock on the Niagara River) to New York State for $5,500.00 and $500.00 worth of chintz, calico, and other goods.
1803-04 The Quaker Indian Committee choses Tunesassa, just off the Allegany Territory, as a site for a permanent settlement.
1814, July 22 Treaty of peace and friendship between the U.S. and the Ohio Onöndowa'ga:' at Sandusky and Stony Creek.
1815, Sept. 8 The United States and the Ohio Onöndowa'ga:' agree to renew and confirm the Treaty of Greenville, made in 1795, and “all subsequent treaties to which they were, respectively, parties, and the same are hereby again ratified and confirmed in as full a manner as if they were inserted in this treaty.”
1817, Sept. 29 The Ohio Onöndowa'ga:' and the Shawnee, living in what is now Lewiston, Ohio, conduct a land treaty with the United States. They retain a 48 square mile tract of land for their own use.
1823, Sept. 3 At the Treaty of Moscow (N.Y.), land speculators John Greig and Henry Gibson of Canandaigua, N.Y. purchase most of the Gardeau Reservation from the Onöndowa'ga:' for $4,286.00. The U.S. Senate never ratifies this “treaty”.
1826, Aug. In the Buffalo Creek Treaty of 1826, The Ogden Land Company purchases the remaining Onöndowa'ga:' lands in the Genesee Valley, as well as parts of the Buffalo Creek, Tonawanda, and Cattaraugus Territories for $48,260. Neither the U.S. Senate, nor the President, ever ratified this treaty. Later, the Onöndowa'ga:' claimed it was an illegal agreement; they sued in court and lost.
1831, Feb. 28 The Ohio Onöndowa'ga:' of Sandusky sell all their land and agree to re-locate west of the Mississippi forever. They gain 77 acres near Missouri in the sale.
1831, Feb. 28 The Ohio Onöndowa'ga:' and Shawnee of Cowskin River sell all their land and agree to relocate west of the Mississippi forever.
1835, Aug. 24 The Onöndowa'ga:', who reside in the territory of the Comanche and Witchetaw Nations, sign a treaty of peace and friendship with the United States.
1838, Jan. 15 The Hodinöhsö:ni' cede their Wisconsin lands to the U.S. The Onöndowa'ga:' sell the Ogden Land Company the Allegany, Buffalo Creek, Cattaraugus, and Tonawanda Territories in a fraudulent treaty at Buffalo Creek for $202,000.00. The Onöndowa'ga:' are to remove to Kansas. Missionary, Asher Wright (American Board for Foreign Missions), Phillip Thomas (Hicksite Quakers), and others begin to work with the Whig Party to overturn the agreement.
1842, May 21 Onöndowa'ga:' agree to a "Compromise Treaty" that returns only the Allegany and Cattaraugus Territories to them. Only a small number of Onöndowa'ga:' move to Kansas; some die and others return. The Tonawanda Senecas, none of whom signed either treaty, refuse to leave their homeland. The Ogden Land Company retains the rights of preemption to Onöndowa'ga:' lands.
1848, Dec. 4 The Onöndowa'ga:' at Allegany and Cattaraugus abandon the chief system for an elective system and form the Seneca Nation of Indians. This mirrors the United States’ form of government, which ironically had modeled it’s new republic on the Hodinöhsö:ni' method of democracy. Today, the Seneca Nation of Indians has an executive branch that consists of a president, treasurer, and clerk, a legislative branch consisting of 16 councilors, and the judicial branch with its surrogates and peacemakers.
1850, June 8 The Seneca Nation of Indians lease 145 acres (11.66 miles of track) of right-of-way for the New York and Erie railroad for $3,000.00. This railroad traverses the Allegany Territory and the Town of West Salamanca.
1851 The Quaker Indian Committee approves the establishment of a boarding school on the Allegany Territory.
1855 The Thomas Asylum for Orphan and Destitute Indian Children, with support from the Seneca Nation of Indians, opens on the Cattaraugus Territory of the Seneca Nation of Indians. Missionary Laura Wright pushed for the TAODIC because of her concern that there were too many Onöndowa'ga: children needing care that the community could not provide.
1857, Nov. 5 After years of protest, the Onöndowa'ga:' at Tonawanda “purchase” 6,500 acres of their land following a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court. The sale of the Kansas removal lands for $256,000 pays for the 6,500 acres the Tonawandas must pay to get their land back. The federal government recognizes the Tonawanda Onöndowa'ga:' as a separate "tribe" or "band."
1861 The Western Onöndowa'ga:' (formerly Sandusky Onöndowa'ga:' and the Shawnee/Onöndowa'ga:') treat and establish governmental relations with the Confederate States of America.
1861-63 Onöndowa'ga:' runner, Deerfoot, (Hutgohsodoneh— “He who peeks through the door”—English name Lewis Bennett) dominates England’s professional running circuit. He breaks several records, including running 11 miles in 57 minutes, which was Deerfoot’s fourth world record for that event. The record lasts for 34 years.
1863, Aug. 20 The Erie Railroad leases an additional 23.85 acres of land for $2,385.00.
1865, April Hasanoanda or Ely Samuel Parker writes down the final draft of the terms for Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Va. As Do:nihogä:’wëh—or Doorkeeper of the Western Door, within the Great Law—he had helped to argue Tonawanda’s case in Washington, D.C. (see entry for 1857). During his administration, U.S. President Grant appoints him Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1869-1871), the first Ögwe'öweh (“Real People”) to hold this office.
1865, Sept. 13 The Western Onöndowa'ga:' (formerly Sandusky Onöndowa'ga:' and the Shawnee/Onöndowa'ga:') treat with and restore governmental relations with the U.S.
1871, Jan. New York State passes legislation requesting the U.S. Congress to grant legal title to all Onöndowa'ga:' lands leased to non-Indians.
1871 Judge George Baker, New York State Supreme Court, declares all leases null and void. The Seneca Nation of Indians begins ejectment proceedings.
1873 Judge William Daniels, Cattaraugus County, upholds the Onöndowa'ga:' claim that the legislature has no legal authority to make laws regulating the use of their land.
1874, June 3 The Seneca Nation of Indians Council passes a resolution to condemn U.S. Congressional efforts to confirm the illegal leases on the Allegany Territory.
1875, Feb. 19 U.S. President Grant signs the Senate bill—"An Act to Authorize the Seneca Nation of New York Indians to Lease Lands Within the Cattaraugus and Allegany Reservations, and to Confirm Existing Leases." Congress confirms more than 3,000 leases against the wishes of the Seneca Nation of Indians. The U.S. renews these 5-year leases for 12 years in 1880 and ratifies them for another 99 years in 1892.
1875, April 24 New York State takes over operation of the Thomas Asylum for Orphan and Destitute Children on the Cattaraugus Territory and places its administrative function under the state’s Board of Charities.
1899 Isaac Seneca selected as an All-American halfback on the 1899 College All-American team. He is the first Native in history to earn this honor and the first Carlisle student. He was born in 1874 on the Cattaraugus Territory.
1905 New York State takes over full control of the Thomas Asylum for Orphan and Destitute Indian Children and changes its name to The Thomas Indian School. It now offers grades 1 through 8.
Late 1920s-early ‘40s Alice Lee Jemison, born in Silver Creek, becomes a prominent Indian Activist, who campaigns against the Seneca Conservation Act of 1927, the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, and the Selective Service Act. In 1935, she lobbies against the pollution of Cattaraugus Creek on the Cattaraugus Territory to the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Alice becomes a life-long advocate for the elimination of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs—“The Only Good Indian Bureau is a Dead Indian Bureau.”
1927 Congress passes the Seneca Conservation Act (with SNI support) that allows New York State fishing and hunting laws to be applied to the Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Oil Spring Territories.
1930 New York State classifies The Thomas Indian School as a Junior High School— students can now attend grades 1 through 9.
1935-1941 Arthur C. Parker, Cattaraugus-born, directs the Works Progress Administration (WPA)’s Indian Arts Project on the Tonawanda and Cattaraugus Territories. This project provides jobs during the depression and promotes the cultural arts of the Onöndowa'ga:. Roy Jimerson and Arlene Doxtator serve as supervisors on the Cattaraugus Territory in 1935 (the only year this program functioned there). Robert Tahamont (Abenaki) supervises the program at Tonawanda (1935-1941). The program employs mainly Senecas and Cayugas who live on those territories. A few of the more prominent participants in the program include: Jesse Cornplanter, Sanford Plummer, and Ernest Smith. Later, Sanford Plummer’s work is exhibited for a short period of time in a museum at The Thomas Indian School.
1938 The Quaker Boarding School closes at Tunesassa.
1942, Jan. 20 The Onöndowa'ga:' win the Forness case (U.S. v. Forness). This allows the cancellation of delinquent leases on the Allegany Territory. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals judge overturns the lower court ruling.
1948 U.S. Congress gives New York State criminal jurisdiction over New York Indians.
1950 U.S. Congress gives New York State civil jurisdiction over New York Indians.
1957 New York State officially closes The Thomas Indian School over the protests of several Seneca Nation of Indian members, who hope to turn the facility into a vocational school.
1961 Haines Trailer Sales opens on the Allegany Territory owned by Doug and Jean Haines, Sr. The initial product sold was mobile homes. Travel trailers were added later.
1964, Dec. 31 The residents of several communities on the Allegany Territory are forced to move from the “take area” because of the Kinzua Dam. This is also the last day the Seneca Nation of Indians can claim mineral rights in the take area. The Kinzua Dam dislocates 537 individuals (160 families), many of whom move to relocation areas at Steamburg or Jimersontown. This action by the U.S. government irrevocably destroys a way of life for the Ögwe'öweh (Real People) who live here.
1966, May 17. The Haley Community Building opens on the Allegany Territory with a dedication ceremony to Congressional Advocate James A. Haley (Fla).
1966, June 25. The Saylor Community Building opens on the Cattaraugus Territory with a dedication ceremony to Congressional Advocate John P. Saylor (PA).
1973 Highbanks Campground opens on the Allegany Territory.
1973 New York State uses Chapter 31 of the NYS Highway Law to authorize an easement to build the Southern Tier Expressway through the Allegany Territory. The Tribal Council approves the State Agreement and the DOT “Memorandum of Understanding” in July of 1976. These agreements create a return of 795 acres of Allegany State Park land in lieu of highway land lost (Lieu Lands) and gives $494,386.00 plus interest to the Seneca Nation of Indians.
1974, July 30 In The People of the State of New York, Respondent v. James Winston Redeye, Judith Marie Redeye, John Douglas McStraw, and Patricia Ann McStraw, Apellants ruling, New York State has no jurisdiction to apply the Environmental Conservation Law upon Seneca Nation of Indians members hunting on their territory.
1975 Seneca Lanes opens on the Allegany Territory in September.
1976 President, Robert C. Hoag is the first Native leader in the history of New York State to formally address the New York State legislature. He speaks on the “Route 17 Memorandum of Understanding” agreement.
1977, August The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum opens on the Allegany Territory, with a provisional NYS charter.
1979, July 9. The Seneca Nation Indians open two library branches at the Allegany and Cattaraugus Territories.
1979 Larry Haines, son of Doug and Jean Haines, Sr. bought Haines Trailer Sales and now sells truck caps.
1983 Tax-free gasoline and cigarette stores open on the Allegany and Cattaraugus Territories.
1984 Dr. Hazel John, who was born on the Allegany Territory, becomes the first Onöndowa'ga:' to earn a Ph.D. in Social Science. The University of Arizona approves her dissertation “Seneca Phonetics: an Articulatory and Acoustic Investigation” in 1983.
1988, May. Seneca Bingo Enterprises moves to the former Seneca Lanes building on Broad Street, Allegany Territory.
1985 An Allegany Onöndowa'ga:' citizen group protests New York State’s completion of Route 17 just east of Salamanca, N.Y. on the Allegany Territory.
1990, Nov. 3 The Seneca Settlement Act establishes an 80-year lease (40/40) with reparations to The Seneca Nation of Indians for past injustices and Congress' failure to maintain its federal-trust responsibility to the Onöndowa'ga:'.
1994, June 13 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Department of Taxation & Finance v. Milhelm Attea & Bros. This decision states that non-Indians are not exempt from New York State taxes for cigarettes purchased on Indian reservations.
1996 JR’s Smokeshop begins internet sales of tobacco products on the Cattaraugus Territory. Western Door Enterprises begins internet sales of tobacco products on the Allegany Territory.
1997 The Onöndowa'ga:' protest New York State’s attempt to collect sales tax on the Allegany and Cattaraugus Territories. They “shut down” Routes 17 and 90 on those territories in protest. The protest ends without serious injuries. The state backs off on the collection of state taxes.
2002 Ross and Holly John open Holiday Inn Express on the Allegany Territory.
2002 The Seneca Nation of Indians agrees to a federal gaming compact with New York State to open casinos on their territories. Today, 3 Casinos exist in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Salamanca.
2010, May 20 Grand Opening of Oil Springs (Cuba Lake, NY) Seneca One Stop.
2010, July 31 President Obama’s administration passes the PACT Act, which bans the use of the U.S. Postal Service to ship tobacco products. This effectively undermines the internet tobacco trade.
2013, Sept. The Seneca Nation of Indians holds a ceremony to honor Senator James Haley and Seneca “Jo-Jo” Redeye before it begins the demolition of The Haley Building on the Allegany Territory. This building served as a place where dislocated Onöndowa'ga:' could come together for political and social activities following their removal from their homes due to the Kinzua Dam. SNI Council also met here at one time.