Wellcome ImagesThe Seneca tribe was one of six that formed the Iroquois League. Seneca war chief Cornplanter, shown here in an 1836 color lithograph by J.T. Bowen, based on a 1796 painting by F. G. Bertoli, fought in both the Seven Years" War (also known as the French and Indian War) and the American Revolution, and later served as a diplomat with the United States. Cornplanter was one of the signatories on the 1784 Treaty of Fort Stanwix, which ceded huge tracts of northwestern Pennsylvania to the United States.
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In reward for his service, the United States granted Cornplanter a tract of about 1,500 acres in northwestern Pennsylvania in 1796. The land was to forever remain in possession of the Seneca tribe. It was the final Indian settlement in Pennsylvania. Despite over 150 years of occupation, in 1965 the residents of Cornplanter"s Town were forced to relocate to the Allegany Reservation in New York when the Kinzua Dam was constructed and the land was flooded.
Historical Society of PennsylvaniaMembers of the Delaware tribe, also known as the Lenape, are depicted in this 1702 engraving by Thomas C. Holm. They historically occupied the Delaware River basin from southern New York to southern Delaware along the Atlantic coast, and west along the Schuylkill River into central Pennsylvania. The Delawares were stripped of a large portion of their homelands by the Walking Purchase in 1737 and many were forced to migrate farther west. The Delaware people formed new homelands by combining with other displaced tribes such as the Shawnees and Senecas. A series of land deals between the Iroquois and the colonists further stripped the Delaware of their lands and forced them out of the state. Delaware diplomat Teedyuscung, in an attempt to secure land near Wilkes-Barre for his tribe, negotiated the Treaty of Easton with the British in 1758, but the American Revolution nullified the treaty. The Delaware were forced out of Pennsylvania and often died in defense of their homeland.
By the early twenty-first century, the Delaware tribe numbered some 16,000 members. The majority of these people live in Oklahoma after centuries of forced western migration. Two small tribes of Delaware remain in New Jersey.
Iroquois Six Nations Land Cessions to Pennsylvania, 1736-1792
Historical Society of PennsylvaniaBetween 1736 and 1792, the Iroquois League, formed of the Seneca, Oneida, Mohawk, Cayuga, Tuscarora, and Onondaga tribes, made several important land deals with American colonists, often without the consent of those tribes who occupied the land. This map shows the land cessions made by the Iroquois from 1736 to 1792, spanning from Lake Michigan in the west to the Atlantic Ocean. In western Pennsylvania, the Iroquois ceded significant tracts of land to the Penn family and Connecticut"s Susquehannah Company in 1754. They later aided Virginia land speculators in obtaining the “Ohio country” in central Pennsylvania, where many Delaware Indians migrated as European settlers encroached on their historic homelands. In 1768, they negotiated the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, selling large swaths of Delaware and Shawnee land in central Pennsylvania without the approval of those tribes. By the end of the 1790s, the Delaware and Shawnee had been effectively forced out of Pennsylvania.
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The Iroquois League continues to this day, with over 120,000 enrolled members.
The Paxton Boys" Massacre by William Sinclair
Historical Society of PennsylvaniaIn 1763, a confederation of Indian tribes in the Great Lakes area conspired to attack the British forces occupying their land in the wake of the French and Indian War. The panic generated by this event caused a violent backlash in Pennsylvania. This image shows the Paxton Boys, a Scots-Irish vigilante group that attacked the Conestoga tribe at the Conestoga Indian Village in Lancaster County under the pretense that the tribe was harboring spies. Despite the Conestogas having been historically friendly to the settlers, the Paxton Boys murdered all twenty residents of the village in two attacks. After first losing six members within the village to violent ends on December 14, the fourteen remaining Conestogas fled to Lancaster where they were secured in the county jail for their safety. The Paxton Boys continued to pursue the Conestogas and on December 27 the remaining members of the village were murdered in the jailhouse.
In January 1764, the Paxton Boys marched to Philadelphia, where they threatened violence against Pennsylvania"s remaining Indian tribes in the Moravian Missions. Further violence was avoided as Benjamin Franklin and other city leaders intervened against the Paxton Boys. This 1841 image by William Sinclair shows the brutal massacre of the Conestogas by the Paxton Boys.
Penn"s Treaty with the Indians
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine ArtsThis painting, Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, by Benjamin West (1738-1820), depicts the legendary meeting of William Penn with Lenape Indians in which they agreed to coexist peacefully, as West imagined it.