The Oneida and the Cherokee
A general history of Native Americans has been a part of my education for as long as I can remember. I remember how during the week before Thanksgiving, my 1st grade class did a skit about the “First Thanksgiving”. In order to look like Indians we made vests out of paper grocery bags and crumpled them up to look like leather and drew on them with crayons. When I think of my education of Native American culture, I think of going to North Pacific Reservations and seeing 10-12 ft tall totem poles with the shapes of animals carved into them. Most of the Native American tribes that I have learned about have been Western United States tribes because I grew up in California. When I read the list of Wisconsin Native American tribes, I, unlike most of the class, had no idea what they were. I chose the Oneida tribe because my former youth pastor works at the Oneida Reservation. I look forward to learning about the Oneida tribe and comparing them with the Cherokee tribe.
The Oneida reside in DePere, Wisconsin. There are about 12,000 registered Oneida members in Wisconsin. Only about 2,500 people live on the actual reservation and another 2,500 live in the surrounding areas. The Oneida are governed by a group of nine people, The Business Committee which has four officers and five council members. Many of the Oneida are members of the Church of Jesus Christ for Latter-Day Saints. They helped to form and strengthen the LDS congregations in Green Bay and Appleton, WI.
The Oneida did not always live in Wisconsin. They are originally from a part of New York near Lake Oneida. The Oneida are part of a group of Six Iroquois Nations that lived in the same area of New York. In New York they would set up a village for 10-15 years and once all the resources were depleted, they would move their camp to a different part of the area where the hunting was plentiful and the soil was good for growing food. In this society, the women farmed in the village and the men hunted for food, clothing, and blankets. The Oneida lived in “long houses”, not the teepee that most people think of when we think of where Indian’s lived.
The Oneida were loyal to the American’s during the Revolutionary War. They gave the American Army food and shelter at Valley Forge and some Oneida warriors even fought with the Americans against England. Loretta Metoxen, who is the Tribal Vice-Chairman of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin, stated in the tribal newspaper, The Post-Crescent, "The Oneida played crucial roles in several pivotal battles during the Revolutionary War. Oneidas have been veterans of every war up to and including Desert Storm." (Nov. 16, 1995, p. B-1). The Iroquois Constitution, “Law of Peace”, influenced Benjamin Franklin in the U.S. Constitution. Ben Franklin borrowed the idea of being able to impeach bad leaders from the “Law of Peace”.
The help of the Oneida has hardly been mentioned in United States history because much of the Revolutionary War history was written during the 1830s, which was also the time of the Indian Removal Act that relocated many Native American tribes to the Western United States. This is the period of time in which the Oneida moved to Wisconsin. In 1821, a group of Oneida, called the First Christian Party led by Eleazar Williams, headed West to Wisconsin and negotiated with the Menominee and Ho Chunk Indians for 860,000 acres of land in the Green Bay area. The next year, the Second Christian Party moved to Wisconsin and negotiated the purchase of 8 million more acres of Menomonee and Ho Chunk Land. Whether the Oneida were pleased with their move to Wisconsin or not, the tribe prospered in Wisconsin because of the abundance of fresh water, fish, berries, farm land, and hunting land.
After the Oneidas purchased the land from The Menomonee and Ho Chunk, the latter tribes decided that the dealings were unfair because the tribal leaders were not present at the negotiations and signings of these...
Cited: 1. Cherokee Indians. (n.d.). - Native American Topics -Native American Indian Tribes - Over 2,000 articles on native american indians, their culture & traditions.. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from http://www.aaanativearts.com/cherokee/index.html
2. Lindsay, J. (2009, March 21). The Oneida Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. JeffLindsay.com - The Cracked Planet: Humor, Education, Mormons and Mormon Studies, Science, and Eclectic Items from Jeff Lindsay of Appleton, Wisconsin. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from http://www.jefflindsay.com/Oneida.shtml#intro
3. Long, C. (2000). The Cherokee. San Diego: Lucent Books, Inc..
4. Metoxen, L. (n.d.). Oneida Nation :: Cultural Heritage -- E. Treaties in Wisconsin. Oneida Nation Home Page. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from http://www.oneidanation.org/culture/page.aspx?id=2462
5. Oneida Nation Home Page. (n.d.). Oneida Nation Home Page. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from http://www.oneidanation.org/
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