The Iroquois League Timeline
Compiled by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski

War Chief of the Mohawk painted by Robert Griffing, courtesy of Paramount Press, 1997.

  • 1570 ... The Iroquois League is formed with five independant Nations: the Cayuga, the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, and the Seneca.

  • 1615 ... First smallpox epidemic in Virginia. Smallpox killed Native Americans because they had not not developed an immunity to the disease, which was unknown in this hemisphere. Europeans were similarly killed by yellow fever, syphilis, and tobacco (the Native Americans used tobacco as a ceremonial device).

  • 1630 ... Wolf bounty law is passed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

  • 1632 ... Virginia passes a wolf bounty law.

  • 1670 ... Glass beads from Europe begin to be used to decorate Native clothing, displacing shells and quillwork. Mainly beads were easier to use and quicker too. The natural materials took more time and skill.

  • 1672 ... Native Americans were hired to deliver mail along the Iroquois Trail. Later the Erie Canal was made for travel between Albany and Buffalo. It took trained Iroquois runners three (3) days to run to deliver messages from the farthest eastern village (Albany) to the farthest western village (Buffalo) in the Iroquois League.

  • 1672 ... King Philip's War breaks out in the New England Colonies. "King Philip" was the name the British gave him since he was a Algonqian chief. His real name was Metacom. He was the son of Cheif Massasoit, of the Wampanoag. Metacom was killed and hacked into pieces. His wife and son were sold into slavery, by the British, for work on the plantations in the West Indies. The Alfonquian tribe of Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Narragonset were almost entirely exterminated.

  • 1680Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha died on April 17, 1680, when she was 24 years of age. When she died, much to the amazement of those in attendance, all the disfiguring scars on her face miraculously disappeared.

  • 1689 ... French and Indian War begins ... the Algonquin tribes side with the French.

  • 1693 ... William and Mary College is established in Virginia.

  • 1709 ... Johann Phillip Greisler, his wife Anna Catherina, and his sons, Johann George and Joannes leave their home in [Crysler Family] from Guntersblum, Germany, to seek a new life in America. They end up in Schoharie County, New York.
    Schoharie was first inhabited by a French-Indian prisoner who married a Mohawk woman. His name was Karigondonte. The Karign Ondante tribe (Schoharie Indians) were made extinct, so they joined the Loyalists.

  • 1711 ... Between 1711 and 1713, there are ongoing wars, in North Carolina. between the British settlers and the Tuscarora tribe. In the end the Tuscarora are driven out of this area and they head north.

  • 1713 ... King Louis XIV relinquishes Hudson Bay and surrounds to the British Crown in the Treaty of Utrecht.

  • 1742 ... the birth of Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) on the banks of the Ohio River. Brant remains a devout follower of the Church of England for the rest of his life.

  • 1744 ... The Tuscarora join the Iroquois League making them a Confederacy of six (6) nations.

  • 1755 ... The British raise the bounty for Native American Indian scalps to forty (40) English pounds.

  • 1755 ... William Johnson convinces King Hendrick to help him with the English fight afgainst the French. Henrich's daughter was one of Johnson's mistresses. This proves to be a mistake, as Hendrick and his people were ambushed, and killed, near Lake George.

  • 1776

    The American Revolution divided and destroyed the once great Iroquois Nation. The Iroquois were composed of six major tribes; Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, Cayuga, and the Tuscarora. The Tuscarora joined the Iroquois confederation during the early eighteenth century after a series of disastrous wars with the North Carolinian Colonies.

    According to Barbara Graymount in The Iroquois in the American Revolution; "When the English took over the colony of New Netherland from the Dutch, they also inherited the friendly relations the Dutch had maintained with the Iroquois. The proximity of the English to the six nations country, the importance of Albany as a trading center with the Indians, and the lower cost of English goods as compared to the French manufactures were factors of prime importance in drawing the Iroquois into the English orbit."

    Mrs. Graymount later describes the further protection that the English gave the Iroquois: "in 1679 and 1684 had placed themselves and their country under the protection of the British. This arrangement gave rise to later misunderstanding, since the British place the broadest possible meaning on it by considering the Iroquois to be subjects of the King. For the Iroquois, the action symbolized a protective military alliance only and was not meant to deprive them of their territory or independence" (The Iroquois in the American Revolution).

    The Iroquois developed an alliance with the English, even though during the King William's War the Iroquois sought treaties with both the French and the English. At the end of the War, the English gave the Iroquois treaties to protect them from French harassment and even drove the French settlers out of the land for them. Moreover; " Both the English and the French were fully aware of the important part the Iroquois were destined to bear in the drama of colonization; but the former, by their superior advantage of position, and from their greater dependence upon the forbearance of the League, were induced to pursue a course of policy which gained their unchangeable friendship." (The League of the Iroquois, Morgan).

    The English developed long standing good relationship with the Iroquois. They maintained numerous successful missions in Iroquois encampments. The English gave the Iroquois fair trade rates as compared to the French and the Americans.

    However; the development of missions from the New England colonies disputed the alliance the British had with the Iroquois. Samuel Kirkland developed a mission with the Oneidas that was highly successful. "His (Samuel Kirkland) labors among both the Oneidas and their dependents, the Tuscaroras, would gain him much affection among these people and make him a key figure in Indian diplomacy just prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution and during the early war years" (The Iroquois in the American Revolution, Graymount).

    One of the major setbacks in Colonial American was the failure to recognize the importance in gaining Indian support early in the battle. American leaders were concerned with preserving the goodwill and maintaining neutrality with the neighboring Indian tribes. The Americans wanted to convince the Indians that this was a "Family quarrel" that they should stay out of.

    However; in 1776 General Gage, commander of the British Forces in North America changed policy regarding Indian troops in battle. He raised an Indian Army in Canada and invaded the New England settlements. After the Americans heard of Gage's actions, they too tried to win Indian support and to develop and Indian Army.

    The Americans being very poor at this time could not provide the Indians with the gifts of gratitude that became accustomed too. The Americans lacked resources and other considerations that Indian leaders can to expect. "The Americans rarely could provide the weapons and ammunition needed by the Indian troops. British agents, on the other hand, were able to supply gifts, arms, and other expected considerations in abundance. And their repeated warnings of American expansion onto Indian hunting grounds were confirmed by the extension of American settlements in the Tran-Appalachian region while the war was still in progress" (The American Indian, Gibson).

    However; the American congress passed a resolution for a direct military alliance with the Indians and authorized Washington to raise a force of Indian Allies. "The Oneida chiefs had further confided to Kirkland the rather startling but highly secret news that their tribe, along with the Tuscaroras, Onoquagas and Casughnawagas, had formed a defensive alliance to protect themselves in case of attack and were "resolved that if the others join the King's party they would die with the Americans in the contest" (The Iroquois in the American Revolution, Graymount).

    Many battles occurred through out the New York region. Sustained campaigning ruined the Iroquois villages, hunting grounds and farm land. In 1777 American forces aided by the Oneida and Tuscarora troops attempted to defeat the British at Fort Stanwix, but were defeated at the Battle of Oriskany. Again in 1777, the Americans defeated British General Burgoyne's force. Moreover, in 1778 Seneca and Cayuga troops led by the British invaded the Wyoming Valley and Cherry Valley. There the Indians burned settlements and massacred villagers. General Washington responded by appointing General Sullivan to go to the Iroquois village and destroy them. Sullivan killed men, women and children, burned the villages, destroyed all the food, and cut down the orchards. The surviving Iroquois fled to Canada.

    After the Americans won the revolution, and Lord Cornwallis surrendered, the Seneca were still raiding on American villages. The Americans responded by raising a militia and severely attacking the Seneca.

    The signing of the Treaty of Paris did not address the concerns of what to do with the Indians. It allowed the Americans to care for the Indians how they saw fit. Most Americans viewed the Indians that fought along the side of the British and guerilla traitors and were treated as such. Many Indians fled for the security of Canada. The Iroquois nation was separated and by conflict and now scattered through out North America, to Wisconsin, Virginia and Canada. They were never to be the same again.

  • 1784 ... October 23, 1784 the Six Nations Confederacy was awarded two tracts of land, in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (British stronghold of authority): one on the Bay of Quinte and the other on the Grand River.
    "I do hereby in His Majesty's name Authorize and permit the said Mohawk Nation, and such other of the Six Nations Indians as wish to settle in the Quarter to take possession of and settle upon the banks of the River commonly called Ouse, or Grand River, running into Lake Erie. Aloting to them for that purpose six miles deep from either side of the River beginning at Lake Erie, and Extending in that proportion to the Head of the said River, which them and their posterity are to enjoy for ever."

  • 1784 ... October 25, 1784, the British favor the Mohawk Nation. Joseph Brant (Thayendanega) was given 3450 acres of land (in present day Halton County and founds the city of Burlington, Ontario Canada. His home is built on Wellington Street and is the present site of the Joseph Brant Museum. This land was purchased from the Mississauga tribe. The Mississauga were hostile to the Six Nations.
    Brant built this home for his (3) wife, Catharine Brogham, and his family.
    When the Six Nations moved to "Brant's Ford," he was responsible for the construction of a second church, Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks, near present-day Brantford, on the Six Nations tract. The first church was destroyed in the Mohawk Valley at Fort Klock. New York.

    It is said that Brant hired negro servants.

    The Six Nations are composed of Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca, Oneida, Cayuga and Tuscarora. They called themselves Housdensaunee (people of the Longhouse).

  • 1786 ... Joseph Brant makes his second trip to England.

  • 1790 ... Cornplanter, sachem to the Seneca, speaks to George Washington:
    "When your army entered the country of the Six Nations, we called you town destroyer; and to this day when that name is heard our women look behind them and turn pale, and our children cling close to the necks of their mothers."

  • 1796 ... The birth of George Catlin (1796-1872?). Caitlin left a legacy of painted portraits of various Native American Indians and wrote about their lives.

  • 1799 ... Handsome Lake founded the "Longhouse Religion" ... one "sin" was to drink alcohol.

  • 1800 ... Silverwork becomes common among the Northeastern tribes. The Iroquois are especially noted for this work.

  • 1802 ... The sale of liquor to Native American Indians is prohibited as many native tribes and the Iroquois Confederacy, they felt alcohol was detrimental to their people ... this law remains on the books until the 1950's.
    In the Traditional Teachings, in the Articles of Kariwiio "oneka" (meaning "mindchanger") is alcohol. It is one of the Four Major Wrongs. This was written by Handsome Lake and other sachems and chiefs, because alcohol was abused and caused Iroquois minds to split. It was also responsible for bringing death, misery, and hardship within the native family structure. Most Iroquois have pledged never to touch "firewater."

  • 1807 ... November 24, 1807, Thayendanega (Joseph Brant) dies, in his Burlington Bay house. His final words are:
    "... it seem natural to Whites, to look on lands in the possession of Indians with an aching heart, and never to rest "till they have planned them out of them ... the interests of the Indians has ever and I hope Ever [sic] shall be my greatest aim ... and remain a free people...God willing"

  • In November of 1850, the body of Thayendanegea was brought back to Grand River, and his third wife, Catharine, is buried besides him at Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks.

  • 1816 ... the birth of Chief George Henry Martin Johnson (1816-1884) or "Onwanonsyshon" meaning "he has a great horse." He is a Mohawk of the Wolf Clan. Chief George was born to John "Smoke" Johnson (1792-1886), a Mohawk of the Bear Clan. He was appointed (in 1858) as the first permanent Speaker of the Six Nation's Council and bearer of the Pine Tree Chief title of "Sakayengwaraton" meaning "disappearing mist."

  • 1860 ... A curious study is made by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. It states the cost to kill a single Native American Indian is estimated at $1 million.

  • 1869 ... October 1, 1869, Prince Arthur, son of Queen Victoria, and future Governor General of Canada, visits Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks, in Brantford (Brant's Ford), Ontario, Canada.

  • 1869 ... President Ulysses S. Grant appoints Ely Samuel Parker (Donehogawa), a full-blooded Seneca, to be the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Parker was Grant's Military Secretary during the Civil War.

  • 1880 ... the final stage of the destruction of Western wolves.

  • 1886 ... The high steelworking tradition of the Mohawks begins. They begin construction of a cantilever bridge over the St. Lawrence Seaway. This bridge is on Native American land on the New York side, and allows them to cross over to visit their Canadian cousins.
    More and more Mohawks find this work similar to the ancient tribal idea of proving themselves as modern-day warriors.

  • 1926 ... September 1924, the Canadian government refuses to allow the Six Nations Confederacy to remain as the traditional government of the Iroquois people on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada.

  • 1943 Kateri Tekawitha was declared venerable by the Catholic Church.

  • 1949 ... January 1949, Onondaga athlete, Tom Longboat, won the Boston Marathon in 1907. He sets a new record of 2 hours, 24 minutes. Tom died at the age of 61 years, on the Ohsweken Reserve, near Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

  • 1950 ... the wolf population of the lower forty-eight states drops from two million to a few hundred

  • 1956 ... March 1956, the Canadian government sends the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to evict the traditional Iroquois chiefs and clan mothers from their meeting place on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada. Many people are hurt in this attempt to force the native people from their traditional ways.

  • 1961 ... March 1961, renowned Aboriginal poet, E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahiowake) dies in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Pauline was the daughter of Chief Henry Martin. Henry was born on Ohsweken Reserve, Ontario, Canada. My father's middle name is Martin, and he was said (by family traditions) to have been named after Chief Henry. This is because my great grandfather, Martin Crysler's father was acquainted with this family when they lived near Schoharie, New York. My father's uncle's middle name was also "Martin." Many of the Cryslers married native women.

  • 1965 ... Voting Rights Act makes ALL states enact the bill to allow Native American Indians to vote. Many states had allowed this well before this act made it mandatory.

  • 1973 ... Endangered Species Act gives land back to the wolves as the Oneida villagers gave their land back to their brother species (the Wolf Clan).

  • 1973 ... March 1973, Canadian actor, Chief Dan George, is presented with an honarary Doctor of Laws degree from Brandon University in Manitoba.

  • 1974 ... September, 1974, the United States government rules that Aboringinal people (born in Canada) have the right to travel freely between Canada and the United States, without registering at the United States border or using visas. This law reflects the concept that many a Native American Indian families have ancestors on both sides of the border. Some were loyalists and some remained in New York State.

  • 1983 ... Who Speaks For Wolf, a 1,000 year old story, published. Author Paula Underwood, is an Oneida.

  • 1995 ... ....Wolf Song for Wolf Haven published. Author Paula Underwood, is an Oneida.

  • 1980 ... Pope John Paul made Kateri Tekawitha Beatified. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at both St. Francis Xavier and Caughnawaga and at her birth place at Auriesville, New York. Pilgrimages at these sites continue today.

  • 2012 ... Kateri Tekawitha is made a saint by Pope Benedict XVI. St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. Her feastday is July 14. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology as is St. Francis of Assisi.


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