1. Historical information about the culture

The Oneida Nation, also commonly known as the “People of the Standing Stone”, originated in what is now upstate New York.  The Oneida acquired the title of the “People of the Standing Stone” due to the large, red boulder that was located near the main village in New York.  The language of the Oneida people is Iroquoian.  Furthermore, they join the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Tuscarora tribes in the Six Nations League of the Iroquois.

The Oneida are famous for being valuable allies during the American Revolution, during which they supported the Americans.  The support by the Oneida is likely a result of the missionary work of Rev. Samuel Kirkland who lived among them and helped them in times of need.  Additionally, the Oneida also likely chose to support the American cause due to their loss of sovereignty under the British  
Regardless of the alliance that the Oneida Nation shared with the Americans, their assistance was soon forgotten.  In the early 1800’s, the Oneida were forced to sell the majority of land that they owned in New York by the state of New York and White land speculators.  In order to avoid “White encroachment”, the Oneida relocated to Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1821 after negotiation with the Menominee and Ho-chunk tribes.  Later, the Menominee and Ho-chunk attempted to retract from the agreement and asserted that their chiefs had not been present during the treaties and explained that they intended to only allow the Oneida to use the land, not own it.  After years of debate and mediation by the federal government, the Menominee ended up allowing 65,400 acres of land to the Oneida tribe.
In regards to family structure, the Oneida people are a matrilineal society.  Thus, the woman’s side of the family is followed regarding identity and family.  Within families, the typical male roles included hunting, fishing, and gathering wood, skills that were critical for their livelihood.  Meanwhile, females in the family invested time into cooking, cleaning, sewing, and gathering food.
The Oneida are known for their success in raising crops, especially corn, beans, and squash.  Aiding in this success was pottery, a practice known not only for its artistic value, but also its utility.  The Oneida used pottery for the storage and transportation of food and water and also as gifts.  The construction of black ash baskets shared a similar utility, aiding with transportation of goods.  Furthermore, they hunted deer rabbits, and bears, which provided not only a food source, but also clothing for the Oneida people.  Buckskin was commonly used to make leggings and men’s breechcloths, while furs were also utilized to stay warm.
The Oneida are a clan society, and each clan resided in its own longhouse.  The clan system has been a way to keep track of who was related to one another.  There are three clans of the Oneida Nation: turtle, wolf, and bear.  The Turtle Clan focuses primarily on the environment, while the Bear Clan is known as the “Medicine People”.  Lastly, the Wolf Clan are the pathfinders.

Oneida History”.  Indian Country.
Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. 2015.
Sawyer, William.  National Park Service. “The Oneida Nation in the American Revolution.”



















2. Colonial experience of the culture

The Oneida nation was a founding member of the Iroquois Confederacy, founded sometime in the mid or late 15th century. These nations coordinated politically, militarily, and economically. Thus, for the purpose of this assignment, we will consider Iroquois and Oneida actions roughly equivalent until their resettlement.

Initially, this confederacy allowed the Iroquois to expand their territory and crush their rivals. Early European settlement (French and British) did not pose a significant threat to their hegemony; they continued to be the most powerful polity in modern-day New York and Pennsylvania in the 17th century. On the contrary, the French controlled much of the fur trade in the region, which motivated the Iroquois to expand their influence and claim those resources for their own. This resulted in the Beaver Wars, declared on the French and their allies. The Beaver Wars were hugely successful for the Iroquois for the first 50 years of the 17th century. However, without immunities to small pox and other European diseases, their population declined and could not support its previous level of aggressive expansion. In 1665, three Iroquois nations signed a treaty with the French; the Oneida followed two years later. This treaty temporarily halted destruction of crops, which would have weakened the confederacy further. Twelve years later, the Iroquois secured an alliance with the English, which allowed them to resist the French and continue territorial expansion. The next 30 years saw continued conflict with the French, ending in defeat in 1696 and a formal peace treaty in 1701.

Weakened by war, disease, and destruction of crops, the Iroquois attempted to remain neutral in most conflicts. Southern territories in South Carolina and New York were threatened by British settlement, and the Virginia Colony was expanded into Iroquois land. Rather than respond with force, they accepted payment for the land. Although officially allied with the British during the French and Indian War, few Iroquois actually fought. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 theoretically forbid settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains, but was ineffective and unenforceable.

The American Revolution is the point at which the Oneida’s attitude towards the colonists significantly diverged from the Confederacy. They, and the Tuscarora, sided with the colonists, while the rest supported Great Britain. This decision effectively dissolved the Confederacy and the protection that had come with it. The Revolutionary army destroyed much of the former Iroquois territory; no single nation was in a position to negotiate on favorable terms after the conclusion of the war. In fact, the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1783, completely failed to protect the former Iroquois nations.
In 1821, Eleazar Willaims led a group of Oneida out West. They purchased land from the native Menominee and Ho-chunk tribes and thus effectively resettled the Oneida nation. Shortly thereafter, in 1838, the State of Wisconsin established the Oneida Reservation in western Outagamie and Brown counties. The Oneida people remain on this reservation to this day.



3. Contemporary developments or issues

The Oneida tribe has its own corporation called Oneida Seven Generations Corporation. It handles leasing land that belongs to the Oneida people. In doing so, they are able to collect revenue annually from the businesses that occupy their land holdings. Thus, they have positively impacted the local economy of Brown County. They further add that these land ventures will culminate in the metropolitan Green Bay WI having a growth potential of over $250 million annually (OSGC website). Thus if more Oneida land is occupied by companies, it will positively impact the economy of the local area as well as provide a source of employment for the Oneida people. This also ties in with the current economic focus of the Oneida tribe, which seems to be land management, as they currently own over 18,000 acres in Wisconsin.

Environmental conservation is an integral part of the business as well as welfare community. The Oneida tribe runs a company called the Oneida Total Integrated Enterprises. It is a Native American, tribally owned small business enterprise that is located in Milwaukee, WI. OTIE aims to ‘preserve, restore, and enhance the natural and constructed environment for future generations through successful, customer-focused project delivery’ (OTIE website)

The Oneida are heavily invested in maintaining the indigenous language. They also encourage visitors and Oneida members to learn the official language. The community also offers an Oneida Language Revitalization program, which is a component of Oneida Cultural Heritage

            The Oneida tribe has a lot of welfare programs, mostly centered on family oriented services. For example, they have a Wisconsin Shares Child Care program. This program is income based and provides assistance to low income families that are unable to financially manage childcare. In addition to childcare services, the Oneida also offers financial assistance to members who are injured and physically unable provide for their family. Furthermore, the Community Services Block Grant - Emergency Food and Shelter provides members with rent money as well as food if it is required.
The Oneida Community Health Center covers all health related matters. They are an organization that helps with providing medical, dental, optical, WIC/nutrition and community health services to its members. The community health center also provides assistance in maintaining the overall well being of the community by providing addiction recovery programs (Oneida nations website).

            In addition to their welfare programs, the Oneida tribe also offers educational assistance to its members and their families. The tribe has its own school system that offers a learning system to all its students where they ‘embrace the guiding principle that all young people have limitless potential and opportunity.’ Furthermore, the Oneida also has its own financial aid system that provides monetary resources to those students who are looking into pursuing higher education (college) and are unable to do so on their own (Oneida nation website).

OSGC website :
OTIE website
Oneida official (gov) website