The present-day territory of the Onondaga Nation (“People
of the Hills”) is approximately 7,300 acres just south of Syracuse
near Nedrow, New York.
Between 1788 and 1822, the Onondaga Nation lost possession of approximately
95% of its land through a series of illegal “takings” by
the State of New York.
Onondaga (the keepers of the Central Fire) is considered to be the
capital of the Haudenosaunee, a name meaning “People of the
The Haudenosaunee are sometimes referred to as the Iroquois Confederacy,
or Six Nations.
The Haudenosaunee was founded at Onondaga after the Peace Maker
visited the warring nations. This is estimated to have occurred around
the year 1000 A.D. The five original nations of the Haudenosaunee
were the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas. The Tuscaroras
joined the confederacy in the early 1700's.
The nations of the Haudenosaunee came together after agreeing to
work together peacefully rather than continuing to battle each other.
They established a democratic system of government led by a Grand
Council consisting of chiefs from each nation. These chiefs worked
with clan mothers to ensure the preservation and well-being of the
The Haudenosaunee is considered to be one of the oldest participatory
democracies on earth, and provided an important structural model
for the Founding Fathers developing the United States Constitution.
The Haudenosaunee became the greatest Indian power in colonial America,
with a homeland that spanned northern New York between the Hudson
and Niagara rivers and an influence that extended from the Ottawa
River to the Chesapeake Bay and from New England to Illinois.
The Onondaga Nation maintains traditional cultural views and a traditional
system of government. The Nation does not permit the sale of alcohol
and has opposed casinos and online gaming.
The Haudenosaunee are known internationally as a peaceful people,
with a heritage of statesmanship, government/law and an oral tradition
passed from generation to generation.
Onondaga remains the meeting place for the Grand Council of Chiefs,
the traditional ruling body for the Haudenosaunee. The Longhouse serves
as a place of spiritual, cultural and social activities, the seat of
government and symbol of security.