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ONEIDA AND CAYUGA RESERVATIONS. No maps of reservations for these tribes will be found, as they no longer retain their ancestral homes in New York.
Various treaties between the Oneida nation and the state of New York gradually reduced their land area until now (1890) a small remnant of that people retain but about 350 acres, which they hold as citizens and in severalty. The condition of this small remnant is treated of elsewhere. The following data explain the process of their loss of land :
1. By treaty of Fort Herkimer, June 28, 1785, the Oneidas joined the Tuscaroras in selling their lands between the Chenango and Unadilla rivers to the state of New York. Consideration, $11,500 in money and goods.
2. In September, 1788, other lands were sold to the state of New York for cash, clothing, provisions, a mill, and an annuity of $600, excepting certain reservations in Madison and Oneida counties.
3. September 15, 1795, the Oneidas sold to the state of New York another portion for $2,952 in cash and an annuity of the same amount, and another portion for 3 cents per acre, to be paid annually.
4. June 1, 1798, the Oneidas sold additional lands for $300 and an annuity of $700.
5. March 5, 1802, the Oneidas sold to the state of New York certain small parcels of land for $900 and an annuity of $300.
6. In 1805 the conflicting parties among the Oneidas, pagan and christian, settled their otherwise irreconcilable jealousies by a subdivision of their lands in Madison and Oneida counties.
7. In 1846, after 11 successive treaties with the state of New York, the main part of the nation removed to Wisconsin, leaving to the remaining fragment of the band the tract of 350 acres, before referred to.
8. In 1843 the legislature of New York authorized these lands to be held in severalty, as at present.
106 of the Oneidas now (1890) reside on the several reservations of the Six Nations, and 106 in the counties of Madison and Oneida, in the state of New York, in all 212. They have no separate reservation. This is fully shown in the population table.
The Cayugas number 183 and reside on 4 of the reservations of the Six Nations, having no separate reservation.
The Oneidas are scattered, gaining a livelihood by basket making or day's labor, and are less comfortably settled than a majority of reservation Indians. Two groups of small houses, in each of which are 7 families, constitute their representative settlements, viz, Orchard, in Oneida county, about 4 miles south from the city of Oneida, and Windfall, in Madison county. In the former, William and Malinda Johnson own 11 acres, which they rent. William Dockstader occupies 1.75 acre, which he does not till. The school has been abandoned, and the 13 children of these families do not attend any school. Some think the schoolhouse over the hill too far, and Mr. Dockstader claims that the children were not well treated by the white people, but these reasons are not sufficiently supported for serious comment. At Mud Creek, between the 2 villages, are the 2 houses of John Johnnyjohn and Mary Antoine. At Windfall, Mary Webster, widow, is allowed to live out her days in the house of her deceased husband, the mortgage which he gave having cost her the title. Alexander Burning, a chief, lives at Oneida. The total number of all ages, scattered over the original Oneida reservation and the country thereabout, who draw annuities of cloth from the United States, is 106.
These are the facts in 1890, and neither farming nor gardening in either of these villages is to the credit of civilized Indians. They are honest and well behaved, but without sufficient ambition or sympathy to insure much progress. Preaching is attended semimonthly, but all signs conform to their own frank statement, that “before long there won't be any of us left”. The few who accept any work they can get and forget that they are Indians assimilate rapidly with their white neighbors, and in another generation will be lost in the mass of the people. Those who remained in New York were too few for combined, mutually-supporting industry, and the experiment of holding land in severalty only hastened their dissolution, without elevating their industry or their condition. Visitors who ride through Windfall, the larger of the 2 villages, should understand that these are no longer Indian villages, and should not confuse any signs of general improvement with ideas of Indian thrift and progress, which do not exist.
ONONDAGA RESERVATION. An old wampum of 1608, representing the Iroquois confederacy, has for its “ center house”, to indicate the rank of the Onondagas, a heart. On either side are joined two sister nations, and, although fewer in numbers at present than others, the Onondagas are given the first place in illustration of the Six Nations in 1890.
The Onondaga reservation, lying in Onondaga county, forms a rectangle of a little more than 2.3 miles by 4 miles, commencing about 5 miles southward from the city of Syracuse, and contains about 6,100 acres. The turnpike road to Cardiff enters near the northeast corner of the reservation and leaves it about half a mile east of the southwest corner, cutting a diagonal line nearly 4.75 miles in its course. Onondaga Castle, with hotel, store, post office, and a few houses, is at the “ entrance gate”. The Lafayette stage road bears southeasterly at this point, from which the reservation road deviates to the right, and at the distance of about three-quarters of a mile sends a branch into the celebrated limestone quarries belonging to the Onondaga nation. This blue limestone is excellent building material, but the deep strata, which will measure from 18 to 20 inches in thickness, are 20 feet below the ground surface, requiring laborious and expensive stripping to be utilized. The supply is comparatively inexhaustible. Only 3 derricks are now worked, each paying to the nation an annual rental of $100. As many as 6 have been worked heretofore. The leases, made by ruling chiefs, pass under the keen supervision of Thomas D. Green, the state agent for the Indians, and the details of his management show a just regard for their best interests.
For nearly three-quarters of a mile after leaving Onondaga Castle the road runs through the land of Wilson Reuben, who, by inheritance from the late “Aunt Cynthia” (long honored by the Onondagas and also by the white people) and by other acquisitions, has become one of the wealthiest and most influential of his people. His leases to white men bring him a cash income of from $600 to $900 per annum. IIis example has been followed by others. Only 2,522.25 acres are cultivated, or less than half the acreage of the reservation, 423.5 acres being classed by the owners as pasture land. As a fact, the greater portion of the cultivated land is leased to white men under sanction of the laws of New York, with the concurring consent of the ruling chiefs. As a general rule, the rental is at a fair rate, and whether legally or, as on some of the reservations, illegally leased, affords support to Indian land owners, many of whom would be otherwise helpless and destitute.
More than 1,000 acres are so stony and mountainous that they have little value except for a poor grade of pasturage. There is still sufficient timber for fencing, and the best cultivated farms are fairly fenced, but the fences are not generally well maintained and are repaired sufficiently only to protect the crops during their maturity. The supply of timber is ample for the present. While no timber has been sawed and but little wood cut except for home use, it is to the credit of the people that, to a greater extent than found upon any other reservation, even the poorer families had a visible supply of wood laid up in advance for winter use.
With the exception of the land of Wilson Reuben, lying in the angle of the roads below Onondaga Castle, no large farms in well-shaped tracts lie upon the east side of the Cardiff road. The lower range of hills comes within a few hundred feet of the road, nearly through the reservation, and for the last mile touch the road. Between First creek, 1 mile from Onondaga Castle, and the fork leading to South Onondaga, there are a few good farms of 20 to 40 acres. The land on the west side of the road is uniformly good. The bottom lands on the west side of the creek, although cut by spurs from the hills which press closely upon the creek, are also fertile.
A second road from Syracuse cuts the 300-acre “ Webster tract”, and afterward follows the western reservation line until it joins the South Onondaga road at the fine farm belonging to the widow of William Hill. This is also leased to a white man, and the owner lives on the main road in a modern house, adjoining the Methodist Episcopal church. North of the Hill farm are 2 others worthy of notice, both leased to white men, 1 owned by Daniel La Forte's family and the other by Orris Farmer, one of the most prosperous men on the reservation.
The lands along the stony, wretched roads, on the upper waters of Lafayette creek, are broken sharply by spurs from the mountain which occupies so large a portion of the south half of the reservation. More than 20 small, steep hills, almost as distinct as mounds, fringe the creek, leaving only small garden patches for culture. Albert Cusick has made a success of strawberries, but substantial farming is impracticable. From Wallace Carpenter's northward along the bench land and slope of the hills which rise eastward toward the reservation line are several tracts of land with good farming properties. The entire reservation is a narrow valley between two strips of bench land, each of which is at the foot of high outside hills belonging to the white people of New York. No artificial irrigation is needed, as the hills are full of unfailing springs and the water is of the best.
TONAWANDA RESERVATION. The Tonawanda reservation, in the counties of Erie, Genesee, and Niagara, New York, as originally surveyed in 1799, and as reserved by the treaty at Big Tree, covered 71 square miles. Coincident with a treaty between the United States and this band of Seneca Indians March 31, 1859, promulgated November 5, 1859, the claim of the Ogden Land Company was extinguished, and the present reservation limits embrace 6,549.73 acres, lying partly in each of the counties of Erie, Genesee, and Niagara.
One heavy dirt road, almost impassable in the spring or an ordinarily wet season, runs out from the center of Akron, sending a fork into the reservation at a distance of more than 3 miles. A second road, running northeasterly from Akron, enters the reservation at a distance of about 2.5 miles, at the point where the West Shore railroad enters the reservation, as indicated on the map. Up to this point the road is very well maintained. Half a mile from this point lies a triangular piece of land, which is occupied by the Indian Baptist church, the Indian Methodist church, an old council house, schoolhouse No. 2, and the new house of Eliza, wife of David Moses. Moses is a chief of the Wolf tribe and a prominent member of the christian party.
From this central triangle 3 roads take their departure. The first runs northwest, leaving the reservation by a bridge across Tonawanda creek, near the canal feeder. The last farm on the left, one of the best on the reservation, belongs to Warren Sky, not a chief, but an elder in the Indian Presbyterian church, and a man in high repute. The road running southwardly from the central triangle passes off by the southeastern corner of the reservation into the town of Pembroke by “Indian Village". The third road from the triangle runs almost parallel with the