Monday, February 17, 2014

The Iroquois (IX): The Tuscarora People

Location:   Upstate New York
Year:   1720

The Tuscarora ("The People Who Gather Hemp" or "The People of The Shirt") are an Iroquoian-speaking people who, sometime before the establishment of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, moved south to eastern North Carolina where they settled along the Tar, Neuse, Roanoke and Pamlico rivers.

A powerful people, they were, nonetheless, devastated by epidemics and decimated in wars after the arrival of European colonists. In 1720, they moved north, back to New York, where they were accepted into the Haudenosaunee League as the Sixth Nation, and given lands by the Oneida and the Onondaga. During the Revolutionary War, they, like the Oneida, sided with the Patriots. 

After the war, the tribe was divided: Some settled on their own Reservations, others shared land with the Oneida, many moved to Canada, and some returned to North Carolina, rejoinng the remnant that had remained behind, and a small group emigrated to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). During the War of 1812, the Tuscarora again sided with the United States; during a British attack on Lewiston, New York, American forces fled the field, leaving the Tuscarora (outnumbered 30-to-1) to hold the town. The Tuscarora were slaughtered, and only a handful escaped. 

Today, the Tuscarora as a People are badly disunified. As tribal entities, the Tuscarora Nation in New York refuses to recognize the Tuscarora Nation in North Carolina and Oklahoma, while the North Carolinian Tuscarora claim to be the ancestral band.  Individuals however, work to maintain the shared heritage of all Tuscarora.


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