The Seneca-Cayuga, also referred to as the Ohio Seneca or Ohio Cayuga, is an American Indian Tribe that settled in the Sandusky and Cayuga River regions of northeastern Ohio in the 1740s and 50s. The Seneca-Cayuga people were historically referred to by non-natives as the “Mingo,” a derogatory term that is considered offensive today.
The Seneca was one of the six tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, an alliance of six Iroquoian-speaking tribes including the Seneca, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Tuscarora Nations. The Seneca first came to Ohio in the 1740s, a time when many American Indian tribes who were forced to flee the Ohio Country during the Beaver Wars were returning to Ohio, perhaps including the Shawnee and Wyandotte. The Beaver Wars was a campaign during which the Iroquois fought other American Indian groups, including those in the Ohio Country, for their lands and territories in order to gain access to new beaver populations. During this period, new tribes were settling in Ohio as well, including the Delaware (Lenape) and Miami (Myaamia). By 1750, the Seneca had left the Iroquois homeland of upstate New York and migrated to the Ohio Country, where they joined members of the Cayuga nation who lived along the Sandusky. In the 1760s, the Ohio Seneca lived in eastern Ohio near Steubenville. By the early 1770s, they had moved to central Ohio. One of their villages was on the banks of the Scioto River at the site of present-day Columbus.
Although sources vary in identifying tribes that ultimately made up the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, today’s Seneca-Cayuga Nation believes, according to the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe’s website, that once the Seneca left the Iroquois Confederacy and settled in northeastern Ohio, members of the Erie, Conestoga, Cayuga, Oneida, Mohawk, Onondaga, Tuscarora, and Wyandotte Tribes joined the Seneca to make up the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. In 1832, the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, then referred to as the Seneca of Sandusky due to their settlement on the Sandusky River, ceded 40,000 acres of their land to the United States government as part of a treaty, and in exchange received 67,000 acres of land in Indian Territory, a roughly 15 x 7 mile plot of land, bound by Cherokee territory to the south and west, Wyandotte territory to the north, and the Missouri state line to the east.
Though the United States government pressured many members of the Ohio Seneca and other American Indian groups living in Oklahoma to cease claims to tribal identity and tribally-held lands in the early 20th century, the Seneca, Cayuga, and Ohio Seneca gained federal recognition as the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma in 1937, with the passage of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. Two other bands of Seneca are federally recognized within the state of New York; Seneca Nation of New York and the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians of New York.
- Alder, Henry Clay. A History of Jonathan Alder; His Captivity and Life with the Indians. Ed. Larry L. Nelson. University of Akron Press: Akron, OH, 2002.
- Hurt, Douglas A. The Ohio Frontier; Crucible of the Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996.
- May, Jon D. “Seneca-Cayuga.” Oklahoma Historical Society. Last updated 2009. Accessed June 26, 2017. http://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=SE018
- Wright, Muriel H. “A Guide to the Indian Tribes of OK: Seneca.” Seneca-Cayuga Nation. Accessed June 26, 2017. http://sctribe.com/history/a-guide-to-the-indian-tribes-of-ok-excerpts/