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During the eighteenth century Iroquoian bands and tribal remnants occupied Ohio. Known collectively as Mingo or as Seneca, they are the ancestors of today's Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma. In 1817 the United States established two reservations for the Ohio "Seneca." One was for the Seneca of Sandusky, a mingling of Cayuga, Erie, Conestoga, and others, along the Sandusky River, and the second was for a consolidated band of Seneca and Shawnee at Lewistown. Both groups exchanged their Ohio reserves for adjoining land in the Indian Territory in 1831.

Approximately 358 Seneca of Sandusky reached the Cowskin (Elk) River in present Delaware County, Oklahoma, in summer 1832. About 258 members of the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee arrived later that year. Following negotiations with the Stokes Commission in December 1832, the tribes readjusted their reservation boundaries and joined together as "the United Nation of Senecas and Shawnees."

Despite the pro-Confederate stance of their leaders, most Seneca and Shawnee spent the Civil War years as refugees in Kansas. The U.S. government separated the Seneca from the Shawnee in 1867. The Sandusky and Mixed Band Seneca were organized as a single Seneca tribe, and the Shawnee became the Eastern Shawnee. Both surrendered land that was later occupied by Peoria, Piankashaw, and other Indians. During the 1870s and early 1880s the Seneca received newcomers, including Cayuga, Mohawk, and Seneca proper, from Canada and New York, and had a population of roughly 255 in 1890.

The Seneca Reservation was first allotted to 130 individuals in 1888; by 1902 a total of 372 allotments had been issued. Now headquartered in Miami, the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma (its official designation since 1937) was organized under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936. Governed by a seven-member business committee, the tribe owned approximately one thousand acres in the late twentieth century. With an enrollment of 4,069 in 2004, the tribe operated an off-track wagering facility, a gaming casino, and two smoke shops and offered various social programs to its members, including adult education and vocational training and child care and development.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Grant Foreman, The Last Trek of the Indians: An Account of the Removal of the Indians from North of the Ohio River (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946). William C. Sturtevant, "Oklahoma Seneca-Cayuga," in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, ed. Bruce G. Trigger (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978). Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951).

Jon D. May

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