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The People of the Standing Stone

The People of the Standing Stone: The Oneida Nation from Revolution through the Era of Removal

Karim M. Tiro
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vk9qb
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  • Book Info
    The People of the Standing Stone
    Book Description:

    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 nonIndians. 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 postRevolutionary decades were reluctant pioneers, undertaking more of the adaptations to colonized life than any other generation. Amid such wrenching change, maintaining continuity was itself a creative challenge. The story of that extraordinary endurance lies at the heart of this book.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-000-0
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xxiii)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. xxiv-xxiv)
  7. 1 A Place and a People in a Time of Change: The Oneida Homeland in the 1760s
    (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. After more than a century of trade with whites, the Oneidas and the other five nations of the Iroquois League had shifted to European goods to fulfill the basic necessities. While deerskin remained the material of choice for moccasins and leggings, Indians had...

  8. 2 Narrowing Paths: Oneida Foreign Relations, 1763–1775
    (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, and colonial capitals and trading posts. The paths were themselves active sites of communication, where travelers would exchange information with those whom they encountered. Pathside pictographs conveyed messages about war, hunting, or travel. The Iroquois referred to the...

  9. 3 The Dilemmas of Alliance: The Oneidas’ American Revolution, 1775–1784
    (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. However, the Oneidas determined it was the only way to protect their homeland. Their judgment was vindicated at least in part by the Patriot victory. Thus, when Oneidas tell the story of their participation in that war, they emphasize the special relationship it...

  10. 4 Misplaced Faith: A Decade of Dispossession, 1785–1794
    (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 to be thin reeds on which to rely. In the Oneidas’ difficult circumstances New York found an irresistible opportunity to begin replenishing its war-depleted coffers and making good on claims to lands...

  11. 5 In a Drowned Land: State Treaties and Tribal Division, 1795–1814
    (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 particularly effective to precipitate land sales. By accepting rewards for signing treaties, leases, or letters granting permission to cut timber, individual Oneidas reaped personal benefit from collective Oneida property. Especially among mixed-blood families, Euro-American...

  12. 6 The Nation in Fragments: Oneida Removal, 1815–1836
    (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. Senate during the winter of 1828–29, language supporting the emigration of the Iroquois to Michigan Territory was inserted at the behest of land speculators from New York, recently dubbed the “Empire State.” Those...

  13. 7 Diaspora and Survival, 1836–1850
    (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 protest, but the treaty commissioner, John Schermerhorn, did them one better by writing in the treaty’s preamble that absence implied consent. The New Echota treaty was a fine example of how...

  14. Conclusion
    (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 themselves since time immemorial. They did not, however, disappear.

    Faced with a rising tide of Euro-American settlers, the Oneidas at first attempted to divert it. At the...

  15. Appendix. Selected Oneida Population Counts, 1763–1856
    (pp. 193-194)
  16. Abbreviations
    (pp. 195-196)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 197-240)
  18. Index
    (pp. 241-247)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 248-249)