The Onondaga

by: Alexandra



The Onondaga tribe settled in New York in 1654. These French speaking people were originally from Canada. They called themselves the "People on the Hills" because their longhouses were built on large hills.


The Onondaga belong to the Iroquois Confederacy. The Iroquois Confederacy consisted of six tribes. These six tribes were the Onondaga, Seneca, Tuscarora, Cayuga, Oneida, and Mohawk.


The Onondaga also believed in and practiced hospitality towards all people. They did not believe in fighting or wars.


The woman of the Onondaga were extremely powerful and were in charge of their families. The women were also in charge of dividing the labor. The men would usually hunt for fish and meat, while the women would pick nuts and berries. The Children would help their mothers with these tasks.


Fourteen of the first fifty chiefs in Iroquois history were Onondaga. The names of the chiefs in 1654 were Chief Todadaho and Chief Aionwatha. The Onondaga symbols were white beads and totem poles, which symbolized peace and good luck. The feather arrangement on the head for each tribe was different. For the Onondaga it is one feather on the top and one feather on the side. It lets the other tribes know that they are Onondaga.


Masks were used for identifying the houses. The Onondaga did not have horses or cars so their only means of transportation was by walking. They loved to play games and in fact they invented the game of lacrosse which we still play today. The Onondaga and the Mohawk tribes were the only two tribes that celebrated the yearly cycle of the seasons.


Today, the Onondaga still believe in the traditions of the past, only they are not as religious. They do not wear feathers and they still don't believe in fighting or wars. Now. they have separate longhouses for each family, instead of living with four or more families in each longhouse. Today, the Onondaga support themselves by small businesses, mainly family owned stores. They do not hunt as much as before, but still hunt on some occasions.


My stamp shows how an Onondaga village looked in 1654. I have included mountains, crops, one longhouse, and the color of the sky as it might have looked at sunset.

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