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 18,000 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.

Historical Timeline of the Oneida Nation

Oneidas and George Washington

On July 27, 1783, near Schenectady, N.Y. Gen. George Washington encountered two Oneidas upon the road. Washington was touring New York at the conclusion of the fighting in the company of New [...]

Ray Elm

Ray Elm (1903 - 1997) Although Ray Elm (Turtle Clan) passed away in 1997, he will forever live within the Oneidas’ hearts and in the hearts of many more as the name behind the Ray Elm Childr [...]

Richard Chrisjohn

Known for working with his hands, Richard “Dick” Chrisjohn (Wolf Clan) (1921-1991) was much more than an artist, his dream was to see the Oneidas unite and he believed the Oneida Nation woul [...]

Mary Winder

At the age of 22, Mary Cornelius Winder (Wolf Clan) began her lifetime crusade – a letter-writing campaign petitioning the government to make amends and give the Oneidas back their land. Thr [...]

An Oneida Renaissance Man: Chapman Schanandoah

On May 16, 1870, in a barn on the 32-acre Territory, Mary (neé Honyoust) Schanandoah gave birth to a son, Chapman (Wolf Clan, 1870-1953). Although his life had modest beginnings, it wouldn't [...]

Polly Cooper: Oneida Heroine

The Oneida County Historical Society formally recognized Polly Cooper’s contribution to the American cause during the Revolutionary War by inducting her into its Hall of Fame in 2005. The re [...]