The Seneca people living in Ohio during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were related to the Seneca tribe of New York. The Seneca in New York were one of the most powerful members of the Iroquois confederacy. As the westernmost members of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Seneca were known as the "Keepers of the Western Door." The Ohio Seneca spoke the Iroquois language.
Many of these the group that became known as the Ohio Seneca left New York, hoping to find a better life in the Ohio Country. Upon arriving in Ohio, these natives had limited contact with their original tribe in New York. They formed their own political system that was quite separate from that of the main Seneca nation in New York. The Ohio Senecas also joined with the Algonquian tribes of the Ohio Country in their wars with the Iroquois. The Ohio Seneca probably included more than just Senecas from New York. The Ohio Seneca tribe also probably included members of the Seneca-Cayuga nation (historically referred to by the exonym "Mingo,") the Erie nation, the Conestoga nation, with members from several other tribes.
The Ohio Seneca came to live along the Sandusky River -- along with the Cayuga, the Shawnee, and the Ohio Seneca-Cayuga historically referred to as the "Mingo" -- after the American Revolution. The Ohio Seneca relinquished most of their lands in Ohio with the signing of the Treaty of Greeneville. In 1831, the Seneca -- along with the Ohio Seneca-Cayuga and the Cayuga -- were forced to leave their flourishing lands in Western Ohio under U.S. Indian Removal policy. All three nations were resettled on a joint reservation in Kansas; and were eventually removed again to Oklahoma. In 1937, the Ohio Seneca, Ohio Seneca-Cayuga and the Ohio Cayuga became federally recognized as the Seneca-Cayuga of Oklahoma.
Three bands of Seneca people are federally recognized by the U.S. government: the Seneca Nation of New York in far western New York; the Tonawanda band of Seneca Indians in New York; and the Seneca-Cayuga Indians of Oklahoma. Many Seneca with historic roots in Ohio, along with Seneca-Cayuga and Ohio Cayuga, are a member of this latter band.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.