Cayuga nation

Cayuga nation

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Cayuga

population = 86,000+
region1 = flagcountry|Canada (Ontario)
pop1 =
ref1 =
region2 = flagcountry|United States (New York)
pop2 =
ref2 =
religions = Kai'hwi'io, Kanoh'hon'io, Kahni'kwi'io, Longhouse, Handsome Lake, Other Indigenous Religion
languages = , English, other Iroquoian dialects
related = Seneca Nation, Onondaga Nation, Oneida Nation, Mohawk Nation, Tuscarora Nation, other Iroquoian peoples

The Cayuga nation ("Guyohkohnyo" or "the People of the Great Swamp") was one of the five original constituents of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), a confederacy of Indians in New York. The Cayuga homeland lay in the Finger Lakes region along Cayuga Lake, between their league neighbors, the Onondaga and the Seneca. One current spelling of the Cayuga name is "Gayogohó:no’".


Political relations between the Cayuga, the British, and the Americans during the American Revolution were complicated and variable, with Cayugas fighting on both sides (as well as abstaining from war entirely). During the Revolution, General George Washington appointed General John Sullivan and James Clinton to lead the Sullivan Expedition in 1779, a military campaign designed to unseat the Iroquois Confederacy and thus prevent the Iroquois from allying with the British forces in order to attack the Continental Army [Emerson Klees. Persons,Places, and Things around the Finger Lakes Region. Rochester, Finger Lakes Publishing, 1994. Page 10.] . The campaign devastated the Cayuga homeland, destroying major Cayuga villages such as Cayuga Castle and Chonodote (Peachtown). Survivors fled to other Iroquois tribes, or to Upper Canada where some were granted land by the British in recognition of their loyalty to the Crown. The Cayuga in America were the only Haudenosaunee nation to be left without a reservation in the US.

On November 11, 1794, the (New York) Cayuga Nation (along with the other Haudenosaunee nations) signed the Treaty of Canandaigua with the United States. It was the second treaty the United States ever entered into, and inherently recognizes the rights of the Haudenosaunee as sovereign nations. The Treaty of Canandaigua remains a legal document today, and the U.S. government continues to send the requisite gift of muslin fabric to the nations each year.


Today, there are three Cayuga bands. The two largest, the Lower Cayuga and Upper Cayuga, still live in Ontario, both at Six Nations of the Grand River. Only a small number remain in the United States—the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York in Versailles, New York.

The Cayuga Indian Nation of New York currently does not have a reservation of its own, and its members live among those of the Seneca nation [ [ The Six Nations of the Iroquois ] ] . In December 2005, the S.H.A.R.E. (Strengthening Haudensaunee-American Relations through Education) Farm was signed over to the Cayuga nation by the American citizens who purchased and developed the 70 acre farm in Aurora, New York. It is the first area of property to belong to the Cayuga Nation and the first instance of Cayuga living within the borders of their ancestral homeland in over 200 years. [Hansen and Rossen, 2007] . The Cayuga continue to debate the issue of establishing a Land Trust through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Land claim

The Cayuga Indian Nation of New York commenced an action on November 19, 1980, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York to pursue legislative and monetary restitution for land that was taken from it by the State of New York during the 18th and 19th centuries, who entered into illegal land sales and leases with the Cayuga Nation after the signing of the Treaty of Canandaigua, without the approval of the United States. The treaty holds that only the United States government may enter into legal discussions with the Haudenosaunee.

In 1981, the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma was added as a plaintiff in the claim. Initially, a jury trial on damages was held from January 18 through February 17, 2000. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York and the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, finding current fair market value damages of $35 million and total fair rental value damages of $3.5 million. The jury gave the state a credit for the payments it had made to the Cayugas of about $1.6 million, leaving the total damages at approximately $36.9 million. On October 2, 2001, the court issued a decision and order which awarded a prejudgment interest award of $211 million and a total award of $247.9 million.

Both the plaintiffs and the defendants appealed this award, and on June 28, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rendered a decision that reversed the judgment of the trial court and entered [ a judgment in favor of the defendants] based on the doctrine of laches. The Cayuga Indian Nation of New York sought review of this decision by the Supreme Court of the United States which was [ denied on May 15, 2006] . The time for the Cayuga Indian Nation to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to rehear the case has passed.

=Modern population= The total number of Iroquois today is difficult to establish. About 45,000 Iroquois lived in Canada in 1995. In the 2000 census, 80,822 people in the United States claimed Iroquois ethnicity, with 45,217 of them claiming only Iroquois background. However, tribal registrations in the United States in 1995 numbered about 30,000 in total.
Haudenosaunee populations

Notable Cayuga

*Gary Farmer, actor.

External links

* [ Cayuga Nation]
* [ How the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign Dispossessed the Cayuga]


*wikicite|id=idHansenandRossen2007|reference=Hansen, B. and J. Rossen. "Building Bridges Through Public Anthropology in the Haudenosaunee Homeland." In "Past Meets Present: Archaeologists with Museum Curators, Teachers, and Community Groups." Jameson, Jr., J and S. Baugher. 2007. Springer: New York.

Iroquois Confederacy

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