Seneca Indian Tribe
Learn about the Seneca Indian tribe in western New York.
The group of indigenous people native to North America , who lived in what is now present New York between the Genesee River and Canandaigua Lake , are known as Seneca Indian Tribe people. Seneca indian tribe people were the westernmost Nation within the Six Nations or Iroquois League.
Seneca were one of the original members of the Iroquois League, which they called “Kanonsionni” in their own language (league of clans). The Mohawk, the Oneida , the Cayuga, and the Onondaga were the other member nations, and later the Tuscarora joined the confederacy as sixth tribe member.
Seneca Indian Tribes had matriarchal set up of families. Seneca Indian tribe women were in charge of farming, property, and family and they had the complete ownership of all the land and the homes. The women leaders of the tribes were called “Clan Mothers.” The tribal council of the Seneca nation was chosen by clan mothers, but all Seneca Indian Tribes were subject to the Iroquois Great Council. Eight Seneca chiefs represented their tribe's interests in the Iroquois Council. The setup was similar to the present American federation where the states have their own governments, but all are subject to the US federal government. Thus America 's founding fathers took the idea of representative democracy from the Iroquois Confederacy.
Many Seneca people still live in New York today, but others were forced to migrate to Oklahoma or Canada . Today, the decedents of the Iroquois League member tribes refer to themselves as the Haudenosaunee (people of the longhouse) or Six Nations. There are three Seneca bands in New York , each with its own reservation that is the land that belongs to an Indian tribe and is under their control. Each Seneca Indian tribe has its own government, laws, police, and services, just like a small country, but the Seneca people are also US citizens and must obey American law. There is also a combined Seneca-Cayuga tribe in Oklahoma , and some Seneca people live on the Six Nations Reserve in Canada , which they share with members of the other Iroquois nations.
Most Seneca people speak English today, but some elders also speak their native Seneca language. Seneca is a complex language with many sounds that are unlike the sounds in English. Seneca is an endangered language today because it’s being ignored by the new generation. However, Seneca Indian people are striving to keep their language alive. The Seneca Indian people has a total population of over 7200 enrolled members and holds title to three territories in New York, which includes the City of Salamanca.