Oneida

The Oneida (Onyota’a:ka “People of the Standing Stone”) are an Indigenous nation in Canada. The Oneida are one the five original nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Historically, the Oneida occupied a village near Oneida Lake in New York state. They also occupy territory in southwestern Ontario. Oneida people live both on and off reserves. As of 2020, the Government of Canada reported 8,464 registered members of Oneida communities. (See also First Nations and Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)



Flag of the Oneida Nation of the Thames (London, Ontario)

Traditional Territory

The five nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy — also known as the Iroquois League or League of the Five Nations — occupied an area from the Genesee River on the west, through the Finger Lakes regions, to the Hudson River on the east in what is known as the Eastern Woodlands cultural area.

The Oneida, a member nation of the confederacy, historically occupied a village near Oneida Lake in New York state. Presently, Oneida communities can also be found near Brantford and London, Ontario. (See also Indigenous Territory.)

Traditional Life

Oneida ceremonial collar
Karen Ann Hoffman (Oneida) | (courtesy The Children's Museum of Indianapolis)

The Oneida have three matrilineal clans: Wolf, Bear and Turtle.

Historically, nine Oneida chiefs sat on the confederacy council. The Oneida remain active members of the Haudenosaunee community.

While some Oneida converted to Methodism and Anglicanism when they migrated to Ontario in 1839, others have since taken up the Handsome Lake Religion. (See also Religion and Spirituality of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

History

It is possible that Champlain unsuccessfully attacked an Oneida village in 1615. Years later, in 1696, the French burned an Oneida town.

Unlike most of their fellow confederacy members, the Oneida supported the rebel cause in the American Revolution, owing to the influence of the New England missionary Samuel Kirkland. After the war, however, the Americans pressured the Oneida to sell their New York lands.

A sizable portion of the Oneida community moved to Wisconsin, and another group of 242 individuals purchased a tract of land and settled near London, Ontario, in 1839.

Language

The Oneida speak a language that is part of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquoian) linguistic family. The 2016 Statistics Canada census reported only 125 speakers of the Oneida language in Canada. (See also Indigenous Languages in Canada and Kanyen'kéha: Mohawk Language.)

Oneida members Marsha and Max Ireland have been developing an Oneida sign language to promote inclusivity among the community. (See also Indigenous Sign Languages in Canada.)



Indigenous Perspectives Education Guide

Indigenous Peoples Collection

Further Reading

  • Karin Michelson, Norma Kennedy, Mercy Doxtator, Glimpses of Oneida Life (2016).

External Links