The Oneida Indian Nation is an indigenous tribe of Native American people whose sacred and sovereign homelands are located in Central New York. The Nation was a key ally of the United States during the Revolutionary War, and it has been a cultural and economic anchor for the region. Through the diversified business enterprises it has successfully built in recent decades, the Oneida Nation has become one of the largest employers in New York. It has also forged agreements with neighboring governments that have fortified the Nation’s sovereignty in perpetuity.
Today, the Nation is focused on reinvesting its revenues in initiatives to help guarantee a prosperous and sustainable future for its current members and for future generations. The Nation’s government makes sure its people can achieve their highest potential in education, have access to quality health care, and can secure their economic future. It is also dedicated to providing legal, administrative and educational services to help protect its people’s sovereignty, homelands, culture and job opportunities.
One of the founding members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Oneidas have many beliefs and traditions that have stood the test of time – devotion to their homelands, commitment to collaboration and respect for the gifts of the Creator.
Early Oneidas traveled hundreds of miles to deliver corn to Washington’s starving troops at Valley Forge and marked agreements and pacts with a sacred substance known as wampum. Lessons passed along from Elders were respected, Polly Cooper was documented as a hero for her service and the arrival of the strawberry was celebrated.
Today’s Oneidas work diligently to preserve these traits, traditions and overall culture of their ancestors. They recognize and honor the wisdom, legends and lore that have led to the perseverance, determination and gratitude of today’s Oneidas and will in turn influence generations to come.
The Oneida Nation has recently developed a language curriculum to reignite their native tongue and works with local lacrosse players to pass on the Oneida contribution to the game. Women are honored, the bounty of the seasons cherished and regional partnerships emerge regularly.
The beliefs and traditions of the Oneida Nation, have always been – and will remain – a way of life.
Making their mark in American history, the Oneida Nation became the first ally to America when they joined the colonists in their fight for independence during the American Revolutionary War. In 1794, after the victory over the British and many hardships for the Oneidas, George Washington signed the Treaty of Canandaigua recognizing the Oneida Nation as a sovereign entity. The agreement granted federal protection of 300,000 acres.
Oneida Nation homelands originally consisted of more than six million acres stretching from the St. Lawrence River to the Susquehanna River. Oneida villages thrived in and around the present-day communities of Stockbridge, Oneida Castle, Canastota, Oriskany, the city of Oneida and elsewhere in what are now Oneida and Madison counties.
By the early 1900s, illegal state treaties nearly depleted the Oneida Nation of its homeland. The Oneidas did what they had to do to survive. Some moved, some sold their land. The Oneidas had to fight to recover the last 32 acres granted to them. The federal government filed suit in U.S. District Court in 1919 to help the Oneida Nation reclaim this land.
Today, the Oneida Nation has regained more than 13,000 acres of their original homelands – the most they have had recognized sovereignty over since 1824. A slow steady climb and dedicated perseverance has led to a resurgence for the Oneida Nation that today prospers through their many diverse enterprises, including Turning Stone Resort Casino and a chain of SavOn Convenience stores.
This economic upturn has allowed the Oneida Nation to provide many programs and services to its Members as well as reinvest in their enterprises and community to become an economic engine in the Central New York region, as one of the largest employers in the state.