The Seneca nation's own name is Onondowaga', meaning ''People of the Great Hill''.
The Seneca traditionally lived in what is now New York between the GenesseRiver and Canandaigua Lake. As part of the Iroquois confederacy the Seneca where a powerful nation for decades. In 1788, the Seneca fought on the side of the British in the revolutionary war and participated in well planned raids prosecuted by Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. These raids including the Battle of Minnisink, were carefully planned raids on a trail laid out ''from the Susquehanna to the Delaware Valley and over the Pine Hill to Esopus Country.'' To neutralize the Confederacy, General Washington sent an expedition of 3,000 to 5,000 men under the command of General John Sullivan up the waterways and paths used by the Seneca, pushing the Seneca to defeat at Fort Niagara. From this time on, the nation settled in new villages along Buffalo Creek, Tonawanda Creek, and Cattaraugus Creek in western New York. These settlements eventually became the nation's reservation's after the Revolutionary War as part of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix.
In 1797 at the Treaty of Big Tree, the Seneca sold their lands west of the Genesse River, retaining ten reservations for themselves. The sale opened up the rest of Western New York for settlement by European Americans. In 1838 the US and some Seneca leaders signed the Treaty of Buffalo Creek, by which the Seneca were to relocate to a tract of land west of the state of Missouri, but most refused to go.
In 1843 the Inspirationists from Germany began arriving, this brought on a confrontations with the Seneca people. the Inspirationists erected a large meeting house, several schools houses, and many dwellings, using timber cut from this tract. Seneca were still living on this tract of land.
The Seneca were enraged as they saw these people planting and building...The settler applied to Fellows, the land Agent, who had promised that the Indians should soon depart for the West. Fellows arrested a few Indians because they hauled and sold wood which belonged to the Ebenezer Community. The Seneca in return claimed that the Community had no deed to the land, and therefore had to right to cut trees on it. (Perkins, 1891, p. 49)
The Inspirationists bought some time by paying the Senecas $900 for a year of peace. During this time the Inspirationists asked the Ogden company for a deed: but the company also lacked a deed. The Inspirationists sent $50,000 to Washington. A few months later, Washington notified the Senecas that they no longer owned the land. The Seneca were in no hurry to leave and brought their case before the courts of New York, which decided in favor the Ebenezer Community. The Senecas migrated to the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation in Southwest Erie County.
An interesting story tied to this is as follows.
Twenty years before the Inspirationists came to the area, an Indian woman named Kau-qua-tau was called upon to care for an old man. The old Indian died, and something in the manner of his death suggested witchcraft, and the nurse had been the culprit.
Kau-qua-tau fled to Canada and the council convened to see what might be done. The council deliberated and decided she should be put to death, and a group set out to return her to the tribe to face punishment. As the group recrossed the reservation border Kau-qua-tau was killed. When the body was discovered by the local authorities, there was an uproar and the murderer was arrested.
The Indians argued that no murder had taken place: the woman had been executed as punishment after a trial had taken place. The skillful Indian orator, Red Jacket, reminded the judge of the Salem witch trials that had taken place in colonial days, and the Indian accused of murder was acquitted.
When the Inspirationists moved to the area from Germany, they settled on the land and at first, simply moved into the existing cabins that the Indians had built. It ws no wonder that one of the colonists soon declared their home to be haunted. Christian Metz, the Inspirationsts leader, spent the night in the cabin and reported that he saw the apparition of an Indian woman chained to the wall. A woman's body was removed from beneath the floor of the cabin, and it was found that the cabin had belonged to Kau-qua-tau. Evidently, she had been buried in her cabin after the authorities had returned her body to the tribe.
Erickson, Lori, (1988) Ghosts of the Amana Colonies, Qixote Press and Wikipedia
To be continued.