On the Survival of the Neutrals

On the Survival of the Neutrals 

Charles Garrad, Thomas S. Abler, Larry K. Hancks


The following text resulted from a consideration of the questions: What happened to the Neutrals? Who are their descendants? While having no particular knowledge of the Neutrals, the senior author was able to draw on his own experiences in Oklahoma to add to what was deduced from the available literature. Thomas S. Abler, University if Waterloo, generously contributed extensive information concerning Neutral descendants among the later Seneca, and Larry K. Hancks, City of Kansas City Kansas, added much from his own research on the later history in Kansas and Oklahoma of the tribes removed from Ohio. It is a pleasure to acknowledge this collaboration, although we may not agree on every point, and the senior author alone is responsible for the conclusions. 

The text is published as a record of our joint work.
To what extent it might be an authoritative statement it is left to the reader to judge. 


The Neutrals (la Nation neutre) were first mentioned in 1616 by Samuel de Champlain, and were so-named because between the Iroquois and Hurons “they are at peace and remain neutral.” Their territory lay two days south of the Petun, west of Lake Ontario (1929 III:96, 99-100). In 1641 Father Jerome Lalemant confirmed their neutrality as regards the Iroquois and Hurons, and stated that the Hurons and Neutrals reciprocally termed each other Atti8andaronk, meaning “Peoples of a slightly different language”(JR21:193).

No identifiable modern native group can claim to be the principal lineal descendants of the Atti8andaronk (various renderings) Neutral Indians, but there is no doubt that Neutral blood still flows in many veins, especially among the Seneca Iroquois. The Neutrals as a recognizable tribal entity might be said to have been homogenized out of existence. While they may have indeed dispersed in many directions, two large groups of former Neutrals retained a traceable identity for some time among the Seneca Iroquois.

The first recorded attack by the Seneca on a Neutral town was in 1647. There is speculation in the secondary literature as to the reason (Trigger 1976:624,735) but Father Paul Ragueneau stated it was a punitive expedition against one town to avenge the death of one man. Captives were taken which the Neutrals attempted to recover by peaceful means (JR33: 81-83; White 1978:410). One source inexplicably gives the number of Neutrals captured as 1,650 (Coyne 1916:21). In the autumn of 1650 and spring of 1651 war parties of the ‘Iroquois,’ presumably the Seneca, returned to destroy and depopulate two Neutral villages. The intention of the Seneca on these occasions, as probably in 1647, was to obtain captives for forced adoption. Father Paul Ragueneau recorded in October 1651:

“Great was the carnage, especially among the old people and the children, who would not have been able to follow the Iroquois to their country. The number of captives was exceedingly large, – especially of young women, whom they reserve, in order 


to keep up the population of their own villages. This loss was very great, and entailed the complete  ruin and desolation of the Neutral nation; the inhabitants of their other villages, which were more distant from the enemy, took fright, abandoned their houses, their property and their country; and condemned themselves to voluntary exile… Famine pursued these poor fugitives everywhere, and compels them to scatter through the woods and over the more remote lakes and rivers, to find some relief from the misery that keeps pace with them” (JR 36:177). 

When a year later the same Father recounted the fate of the family of Louis Honare’enhak, from the Petun Deer village of Ekarenniondi, among the Neutrals, heimplied than none had escaped at all: “They had fled far away among those peoples whom we used to call the Neutral Nation, all utterly destroyed by Iroquois enemies; some burned by flames, others killed by iron; the rest, boys and girls, led away into wretched slavery” (Jones 1909:plate opposite p.153, translated by John Steckley in Garrad 1998:8).

Thus, the populations of the two destroyed Neutral villages were incorporated into the Iroquois, principally the Seneca. The inhabitants of other villages scattered to unstated destinations, their immediate imperative being to obtain food. Father Ragueneau’s continuing account, written in Quebec, that “Some others, who were more fortunate and escaped from these ruins, have gone toward New Sweden, to the South; others have gone toward the West, and others are on the way hither, to join our Huron colony” is usually interpreted as applicable to the dispersing Neutrals, but this is not clear, because the subject of the paragraph is “Those of the Hurons who, when their country was ruined, had turned their steps toward the Neutral nation.” It was these Hurons (and Petuns) who “were assailed by the same misfortune; some were killed on the spot, while others were dragged into captivity… Some others, who were more fortunate…” (JR36:179). It was the Hurons who were allies of the Andastes in New Sweden, the Hurons and Petuns who were related to the peoples who had ‘gone toward the West,’ and at that time only Hurons were in the Huron colony at Quebec.

Father Francois du Creux (Du Creux 1952 II:567) bequeathed to us a similar interpretational dilemma by his ambivalent style. He stated “The Huron refugees were either killed or enslaved. Others of the Nation made their way southward to New Sweden,” but again it is not clear from the larger context whether he intended ‘Others of the Nation’ to be the Hurons or the Neutral. Father A. E. Jones, however, (1909:442) was not at all ambivalent. He edited Father Ragueneau’s words in such a way as to almost emphasize that it was a few of the Hurons among the Neutrals, and not the Neutrals themselves, who “escaped to the Andastes, or directed their flight toward the remote west, while a certain number journeyed down to Quebec and joined the Huron colony already established there.”

The Neutral relationship with the southern tribes such as the Eries, and those of the Andastes-Susquehannock confederacy (Jennings 1978:363) speaking an Iroquoian dialect at the time when the Neutrals were still neutral, is not certainly known. That the Jesuits in Huronia viewed the Neutral Nation as “a main gateway for the Southern tribes” (JR16:253) was probably because of the long-standing Huron-Andastes alliance. A formal Neutral-Andastes alliance was not recorded until 1652, following an Iroquois defeat at their hands (JR37:97;Jones 1909:448). By this time the Neutrals were no longer neutral, but committed to a war of survival against the Seneca and their Iroquois Confederacy allies. The legend ‘Attiouandarons’ on Sanson’s map (1656) well south of Lake Erie is accepted by Marian E. White (1978:410) as indicating the postDispersal location of a remnant ofthe Neutrals. A map by Jean Baptiste Louis Franquelin (1683?) reportedly corresponds (Wright 1963:56,85). Why the removed Neutrals in Andastes territory would there be known by the name they were called by the Hurons, while their former land north of Lake Erie is marked ‘Neutres ou


Attiouandarons’, is not explained. Given the meaning of the term, it probably is intended for the Andastes, who are not otherwise indicated.

James H. Coyne (1895:19) accepted that it was Neutral rather than Huron-Petun refugees who went ‘toward the West’ and “united with the remnant of the Hurons at Mackinac and on Lake Superior” (JR38:294). Andrew F. Hunter (JR5:279) reduced this only to Mackinac, perhaps because the western Wyandot migration route at this time was not though Lake Superior but Lake Michigan (Tooker 1978:398-399; see also Jones 1909:449). Reuben Gold Thwaites found Coyne’s unsubstantiated interpretation plausible enough to quote (JR38:295). Coyne himself later concluded “The details of the expulsion are not as completely recorded or as precise as we would wish” (1916:22). Rowland B. Orr (1913:18,19) purported to record an oral tradition from “among the remnant of the Neutrals who had escaped from their enemies and fled to the regions south-east of Sault Ste. Marie,” presumably some of those who ‘fled to the west and northwest.’

David Boyle interpreted finds at Elora as left by Neutral refugees who in 1651 “fled up the Grand to join the remnants of the Hurons” (Templin 1964:9). That the Grand River was a ‘great highway … from earliest times’ and gave access via portages to further regions, including duplicate portages to the headwaters ofthe River Thames, is accepted (Hunter 1927:265-266; Templin 1964:8).This, then, would appear to have been the probable route taken by the Neutral refugee group later found in southern Michigan, in this paper termed the ‘second group’, whose future it was to become the Senecas of Sandusky.

Any Huron-Petun or other refugees who went south toward New Sweden, or east to Quebec, at least went to known localities. Any that were seeking the migrating Petun-Huron Wyandots who had gone west had the added difficulty of locating people on the move through strange lands along the Upper Great Lakes. This surely adds to the probability that the seekers were themselves the Petun-Huron Wyandots who had earlier sought refuge in the Neutral country (JR36:179; JR45:243), but as they were no longer safe there, were now intending to return to relatives they had previously left. The small number involved might account for the total lack of mention of them in the later Wyandot record.

More certain is that the close of 1651 found the former Neutral Nation divided into two groups. The first group comprised those captive among, adopted into, and being absorbed by, the Iroquois. The second group was displaced refugees, moving via the valleys of the Grand and Thames Rivers towards the Michigan side of the Detroit River, to eventually come under Seneca jurisdiction but remain independent, in Ohio.

“The Seneca … took a leading part in the defeat and subjugation of the Neuters in 1651 and of the Erie in 1656” (Hewitt 1910 2:505). The Seneca were the closest of the Iroquois Confederacy tribes to the Neutrals both geographically and linguistically (JR21:314-5, citing Morgan; JR33:109). The Seneca were also the most able to benefit politically within the Iroquois League by becoming a larger tribe (Hewitt 1910 2:502). They were assisted by the Mohawks (JR38:63). Neutral captives of the first group were later recorded in villages in the territories of the Onondaga (JR41:103; Jones 1909:449), and unspecified Iroquois (JR45:207; Jones 1909:44950), as well as, and principally, the Seneca (JR54:81,85; JR57:193; Jones 1909:450).

The first group, the earlier captives, is the best documented, and memory of their Neutral identity and origins lingered among them the longest. The Seneca-led attacks of 1650 and 1651 on the Neutrals, and at other times on other peoples, for the purpose of obtaining captives for forced adoption, were successful. An ‘exceedingly large’ number of Neutral and other captives were forced “to follow the Iroquois to their country” (JR36:177). Yet by 1668 these people, technically still prisoners of war (JR52:19), were allowed considerable tolerance, even to travel away from Iroquois terri-


tory to Quebec and Montreal. In three years “more than two hundred persons from the country of the Iroquois” were instructed at the Huron Mission, Quebec, These included “A poor woman of the neutral Nation” (JR52:19). In 1671, a village of nominally Iroquois Christians near the Lachine rapids housed Iroquois, Hurons, Andastes and Neutrals (JR55:35; Jones 1909:450). That these people had in less than two decades become adopted, adapted and committed Iroquois, and that peace negotiations were in process, of which the formal peace Treaty of Montreal in 1701 would eventually result, hardly seems sufficient explanation for the casual and relaxed attitude now shown toward them by their captors. It was as if as adoptees they had served a purpose. Because of them, the Seneca had become “the largest tribe in the confederation and one of the most important” with vastly expanded territories. By 1657 the Seneca had “incorporated eleven different tribes into their body politic.” While this number must have included both the adoptees of the first group, and the second group settled in Ohio under Seneca jurisdiction, the enlarged size of the Seneca tribe allowed it to force a restructure of the Confederacy League in their favour, to obtain ‘coveted privileges and prerogatives’, and to place two additional Seneca Chiefs on the Confederacy Council (Hewitt 19102:502, 505, 506). At the cost of the Neutral and other subjugated tribes the Seneca achieved political goals within the Confederacy by sheer weight of numbers. If this occurred by 1668 the ‘prisoners of war’ had indeed served their purpose and earned the considerable liberty which they were now given.

Father Jones (1909:450) concluded that the mention of Neutrals in the village near Montreal in 1671 was the last in the Jesuit records: “Their name was obliterated but their blood still courses in the veins of many a reputed Iroquois or Huron.” However, there are other records. According to Gordon K. Wright (1963:58, citing Bryant 1890; also Coyne 1893:33),in the 1780s, ‘a man of influence and character among the Senecas,’  John Kenjockety, was known to be of Neutral ancestry. Of this man, Arthur C. Parker wrote: “Many of the conquered Neutrals were not absorbed for several generations and as late as 1800 Sken-dyuhgwa-dih or Beyond-the-multitude, whose Indian name had been anglicized to John Kenjockety, lived with his family on Kenjockety creek within the present limits of the corporation of Buffalo. Kenjockety was a Neutral and the fact was well known.” Kenjockety died ‘at an advanced age’ in 1808 (Parker 1919:14-15). Kenjockety is a relatively common name now among the Senecas of New York State, at least on the Allegany and Cattaraugus Reservations. The name was sometimes spelled ‘Scajaquada,’ hence current maps of Buffalo identify the creek as Scajaquada Creek, and commuters in Buffalo travel on the Scajaquada Expressway (Abler pers. com . 2002) .

Arthur C. Parker himself could claim Neutral ancestry. Elizabeth Parker, his great-grandmother, his father’s father’s mother, “was in direct line from the famous Wolf clan family of the Neuters in which had rested the exalted title of Ye-go-waneh (Mother of Nations), a name that goes far back into the days of tradition”-this would make her a direct descendant of the Sky Woman of the Iroquoian creation myth (Parker 1919:42,46). Associated with the title Ye-go-wa-neh (Mother of Nations) is the personal name Ji-kon-sa-seh. Both title and name passed to Caroline G. Parker, sister of Ely S. Parker, and Arthur C. Parker’s great aunt. By then she had become Caroline Mountpleasant, having married a Tuscarora of that name (Parker 1926:136-7,plate 20). The girl illustrated by Morgan (1851:148) ‘Ga-hah.-no, A Seneca Indian Girl in the Costume of the Iroquois’ is the same Caroline Parker (Abler, pers. com. 2002). A photograph of Caroline G. Parker, taken from a ‘slightly before’ 1850 daguerreotype, was more recently provided by William N. Fenton (1978:308),with the caption “Fig. 15. Caroline G. Parker, sister of Ely S. Parker, wearing then-traditional Seneca clothing made by herself….” Photographs have been published of several members of the Parker family, including Arthur C. Parker himself The Seneca Parker family not only retained knowledge of their Neutral ancestry for more than two centuries, but also has provided


photographs of Seneca people with known Neutral blood.

The second group is not well documented. It came into existence when the numbers of subjugated Neutrals and other peoples became so large that the practice of adopting them into Iroquois families and villages became impractical.

Until the 1650s, the Iroquois continued the traditional practice of adopting captives into families. When the numbers of captives taken among the Hurons, Petuns and then the Neutrals, and other tribes, became grew too large to be absorbed by Iroquois families, these were given their own partial or whole villages, in Iroquois territory. These together comprise the people of the first group, above. The influx of captives resulting from the conquest of the Neutrals, Eries, and others, was beyond the capacity of Iroquois families and villages to absorb by traditional means and necessitated another strategy.These were settled in Ohio, “dependent on the Seneca and dwelling on lands under the jurisdiction of their conquerors” (Hewitt 1910 2:506). The group, which probably included the most Neutrals, became known as the Senecas of Sandusky, not because they were Senecas, but because they were under Seneca jurisdiction. Another group, the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee, was settled at Lewiston. Although physical removal and absorption had hitherto been the practice, this was not a specific requirement of the Great Law in bringing foreign nations ‘into the Great Peace.’ It was sufficient that conquered nations cease war, surrender their weapons, and undertake to “observe all the rules of the Great Peace for all time to come.” The Great Law provided for conquered nations, allowing them to remain unabsorbed, and to retain “their own system of internal government” (Parker 1916:9-10). It would seem the Ohio groups benefited by this provision.

The composition of both groups in Ohio, the Senecas of Sandusky and the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee, were mixed. Marian E. White (1978:502) gives the dominant segment among the Senecas of Sandusky as Cayuga. Sturtevant (1978:537) believes these Cayuga were invited to Sandusky “perhaps at the invitation of those Senecas, or of the Wyandots, whose land the Indians considered this to be.” That the territory of the Senecas of Sandusky was considered to be Wyandot surely indicates that the Wyandots were present in, and probably a substantial component of, the new mix. Hewitt (1910 2:506) suggests the Senecas ofSandusky were “largely subjugated Erie and Conestoga”, but cites a statement that “They were Cayuga – who were Mingoes  – among whom were a few Oneidas, Mohawks, Onondagas, Tuscarawas, and Wyandots.” The French trader and explorer Nicolas Perrot (1864; chapter 14, cited by Orr 1913; Blair 1911:150) had called the Neutrals ‘Huron neutres’ and ‘Hurons de la nation neutre’, which would seem to imply they were Wyandots. A separate group, the former western Petun-Huron Wyandots, who had removed first to the Detroit Valley after the Treaty of Montreal of 1701, and who thus were not captives, and on to Ohio, became the Wyandots of Sandusky. These remained distinct and independent from the Neutral Wyandots among the Senecas of Sandusky,who were subject to Seneca jurisdiction. However, until divided by frontier politics, the various disparate groups in Ohio evidently all got along with each other, testifying to common mutual interests, and possibly common ancestries. Interaction between the groups was continuous, with a consequent continual lessening of their differences.

With a large number, perhaps the majority, of known Neutrals already residing as captives in Iroquois New York territory, comprising the first group, and the former Neutral identity of any minor groups which had dispersed independently in various directions already lost in oblivion, and the question arises: where could the second group of Neutrals have come from to become the Senecas of Sandusky?

In July 1653, 800 Neutrals were reported at Sken’chio,e in southern Michigan, planning to join the Petun and Algonquins at “A,otonatendie,


three days journey above the sault Skia.é, towards the south” (JR38:181). At this time the migrating Petun-Huron Western Wyandots were in Wisconsin, not Mackinac as suggested by James H . Coyne (1895:19). The proposed joining did not occur, and the 800 Neutrals were never heard from again (Jury 1977:21). “This is perhaps the last historical mention of the Neutrals as an independent body” (Hewitt 1910 2:62). Where these people had come from, and how they had travelled from their Neutral homeland to Michigan is nowhere stated. Itis suggested above that they had travelled to Michigan via the Grand and Thames Rivers.

The question now changes to become not so much where did the Neutrals of Michigan, and then Ohio, come from, as where did the Neutrals of Michigan in 1653 go? Rowland B. Orr (1913:19) cannot be correct in suggesting they all amalgamated with the Tionnontates (Petun) to “become known as Wyandots.” The logical probability surely is that the Seneca, rather than face a continuing threat posed by a reorganized combined Petun-Neutral-Algonquin army, interposed to offer these Neutrals a better deal, which would end the war, allow them to remain in or near the own country instead of removing west, and reopen contact with their removed relatives now in Iroquoia. That they acknowledge Seneca sovereignty, actual or nominal, and the requirements of the Great Law, was an acceptable price. These Neutrals and others who had accepted the same offer became collectively The Senecas of Sandusky. All this was unknown to the French at the time and hence was unrecorded. The French trader Nicolas Perrot later wrote vaguely that the Iroquois compelled the Neutrals (Huron neutres) to abandon their own country (’Detroit’) and “settle in the Irroquois country” (Perrot in Blair 1911:149-150; cited by Orr 1913:19, footnote). As James Coyne (1916:22) summarised the event: “Large numbers near Detroit chose to submit to the foe and to remove to the Senecas.”

During the next century Seneca jurisdiction over their subject tribes in Ohio became increasingly nominal. “Although in 1750 the Confederacy Council at Onondaga denied the independence of the Ohio Indians … it is clear that in the 1760s and 1770s the Iroquois in New York had very little influence or control over those in Ohio” (Sturtevant 1978:537). The Senecas of Sandusky and the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee were soon free to go their own way. Again, as with the people of the first group who travelled away from Iroquois territory to Quebec and Montreal, it was as if the Senecas proper, having attained their goals, now lost interest in their subjects’ peoples, freeing them to pursue their own future and make treaties in their own right as sovereign nations. The reasons for this change in attitude may be several, but before the approaching colonial frontier became the pre-eminent threat it seems that the earlier Seneca obsession of acquiring adoptees far beyond their ability to absorb had long since ceased.

By 1817 (Treaty of Maumee Rapids), and again in 1818 (St. Mary’s), groups of the descendants of originally diverse ancestry now in Ohio were inferentially recognized by colonial authorities as sufficiently organized and united to be regarded as tribes in their own right, able to treaty, and be granted Reserve land. The Senecas of Sandusky obtained a Reserve on the Sandusky River not many miles north of the Wyandots’ Grand Reserve (Sturtevant 1978:537; Hancks 2002). It might be expected that any lingering memories of separate ethnic or group origins, if not already entirely extinct, would have been politically incorrect and suppressed in such circumstances. By 1908 it was even forgotten why they were called Senecas (Hewitt 19102:506).

Other Reserves established in Ohio were for the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee at Lewiston, and the Wyandot. The three groups constantly interacted, intermarried and mixed, in the process their separate pre-Dispersal origins, ties and memories became further lost, and always secondary to the new threat of the ever-approaching colonial frontier. People moved freely from one reserve to another. In the 1770s, Wyandots were recorded


living with the Mixed Band (Hancks 2002).

The flip side of being recognized as tribes separate and distinct from the Senecas ofNew York is that while the latter were able to resist removal, the Senecas of Sandusky, and the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee were not. Some of the Mixed Band moved to Indian Territory (Kansas) in 1826. In 1832 the remainder, and the Senecas of Sandusky, moved to Cherokee lands in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), the latter to become the Senecas of Oklahoma. The Wyandots of Sandusky remained in Ohio until 1843 and then removed to Kansas, accompanied by Wyandots from both the Michigan and Ontario sides of the Detroit River.

Illustrative of the degree to which ancient tribal origins had become mixed, when the news reached Oklahoma that the Wyandots still in Ohio had sold part of their Grand Reserve in 1836, no fewer than 58 of a probable total of fewer than 300 members of the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee claimed to be actually Wyandots and thus entitled to a share in the proceeds. In 1841 the enrollment in the Shawnee Indian Manual Labor School, Kansas, included two Wyandot boys (Hancks 2002).

When the remaining Wyandots from Ohio and Michigan, with some from Ontario, arrived in Kansas in 1843, they were probably well received and helped by the Wyandots, who were already members of other bands. Interaction between the former Wyandots of Sandusky (now of Kansas), the Senecas of Sandusky, and the Mixed Band of Seneca and Shawnee (now of Oklahoma), resumed and continued, for a while, as it had in Ohio. In 1846 a group ofIroquois from New York State, including Senecas, arrived in Kansas, but mostly returned to New York the following year (Abler and Tooker 1978:511).

When the Wyandots of Kansas found themselves split over the proposal to terminate the Tribe and accept U.S. citizenship in 1855, the Wyandot Tribal Council sent a deputation to the Senecas of Oklahoma, among whom a few Wyandots were already living. This resulted in an invitation from the Senecas of Oklahoma (Tooker 1978:403) for those Wyandots in Kansas opposed to losing Indian status to move to their lands. In 1857 the Wyandot Emigrating Party moved from Kansas to Seneca lands in Oklahoma with the assistance and support of the Tribal Council, which remained in Kansas and retained jurisdiction over them and their treaty payments. The Senecas of Oklahoma not only accepted them but also proposed to cede part of their Reserve to the new arrivals by aTreaty in 1859. This was not consummated due to the intervention of the Civil War, during which many of the Oklahoma Wyandots, if not all, returned to Kansas, but then drifted back to Seneca lands afterwards. Negotiations began anew and, in 1867, the Senecas ceded 20,000 acres of their Reserve to the Wyandots.

In 1867 the U.S. government confirmed the land transfer, known since as the Wyandot Reservation, and provided for the continuation of the Wyandot Tribe of Oklahoma with the right to re-adopt into the Tribe any dissatisfied new citizens in Kansas. The ‘citizen class’ people who moved to Oklahoma were formally readopted and regained Indian status in 1872 as the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma. Sturtevant (1978:538) observed that at the time of the 1867 Treaty, “all former distinctions between the Sandusky and Lewistown ‘Senecas’ ceased.” Jurisdiction of the Wyandot Tribal Council in Kansas over the Wyandots in Oklahoma also ceased.

The new circumstances of the various restructured Kansas and Oklahoma groups soon made any former ties and memories of common ancestries surviving from Ohio and ancestral Ontario quite irrelevant. When the senior author visited the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma in 1975 and spoke to the Annual Council about their Canadian and Ontario origins, there was surprised disbelief Only one elderly matron was found who knew her ancestors had come from Canada, and even she was thinking of the Anderdon Reserve south of Windsor in the Detroit Valley. The hope of learn-


ing if the acceptance by the Senecas of Oklahoma of the Emigrating Wyandots of Kansas was rooted in an ancient Neutral-Petun relationship, proved over-ambitious. There was no memory further back in time than Ohio, and the people I asked did not even know why their ancestors had removed to Oklahoma from Kansas in much more recent times.

When in Oklahoma in 1975, the senior author also visited the Seneca of Oklahoma, and was rewarded by meeting Minnie Thompson, the last local Iroquoian-speaker, Elder and Matron trying to retain anything of the culture. She was in despair because of the lack of interest in the language and culture by the younger generation. She had never heard of the Neutrals, and knew the Wyandots only as the people down the road. Each year a group of traditional dancers, singers and drummers visited from the Six Nations Iroquois Reserve, Ontario. She looked to them, not the Wyandot, as ‘her’ people, and to the Six Nations, particularly the Seneca, of New York and Ontario, as the nearest relatives of the Oklahoma Seneca.

At the time of the visit, William C. Sturtevant’s summary of the history of the Oklahoma Seneca (1978:537-543) was not yet available. His account of their Ohio origins mentions the Wyandot, but not the Neutral specifically, and his description of them as “the descendants of Iroquois from several tribes who moved into Ohio during the eighteenth century and of subsequent Iroquois emigrants from Ontario and New York” mayor may not include the Neutral. The complex history of the Senecas of Oklahoma community includes the later migration, circa 1870-1881, of some Ontario and New York Iroquois families of which the continuing tie to the Ontario Six Nations is a result (1978:539).

Thus, the Senecas of Oklahoma may have inherited ancestral Ontario Neutral blood from both captive groups. The arrival and acceptance of the Ontario and New York Iroquois families indicates that there was still communication between the eastern and removed groups at the time. This is capable of several possible and opposite explanations. When they were still in Ohio the affiliations of the Senecas of Sandusky (now of Oklahoma) “were never with the Iroquois, but rather with tribes usually hostile to them” (Hewitt 1910 2:506). Their acceptance of what would seem to be former enemies might be for a number of reasons, among them because all memories of the former enmity were forgotten, or from the intention of effecting a reconciliation, or that the families who came were not enemies at all, but still recognized as relatives, themselves descendants of captives who had been incorporated. It is now too late to determine the truth of this, and whether the presumed blood tie related to a common Neutral ancestry. The principal author’s association with some of the people of the Ontario Six Nations Iroquois, Wyandots in Kansas and Oklahoma, and the Senecas of Oklahoma represented by Minnie Thompson, leads to the belief that no memory remains at all of the complexity of their multiple and shared ancestral origins. Many of these people may carry Ontario Neutral blood, but do not know it, and would probably reject the suggestion.

In 1976, when the Grimsby AhGv-11 Ossuary was being salvaged in the former Neutral territory of Ontario, local American Indian Movement activists staged a sit-in occupation in the Royal Ontario Museum and a ‘citizen’s arrest’ of the archaeologist Dr. Walter Kenyon. When their leader was asked if he had consulted the Wyandot about this action, he was puzzled at the writer’s association of the Neutrals with Wyandots. His position was that other Indians must take care of Neutral remains because the Neutrals themselves were extinct.

As early as the 1700s Pierre F. X. de Charlevoix, cited by Gordon K. Wright {1963:55), reported: “no trace is left of the Neutral nation.” Marian E. White added that “No remnants are identified at a later date” (1978:410). But as James V. W right (1966:93) pointed out, because possibly the majority of the people were adopted, it was their status as an independent tribe, a cultural develop-


ment, that was destroyed, not a people. It was “as a national entity, (that) the great confederacy that occupied southern Ontario in Champlain’s time has vanished forever from the soil” (Coyne1916:23).

The largest pool of Neutral blood and genes today would appear to be among the Six Nations Iroquois, particularly the Seneca. Those Senecas who chose to accompany the Mohawk Joseph Brant to Ontario in 1784 left larger numbers of other Senecas behind in New York. At the time, some memories of ancestral origins remained. It was known, for example, that Joseph Brant, was descended from Wyandot prisoners adopted by the Mohawks through both his parents (Norton 1970:105). Possibly, those Seneca who elected to move to Ontario were, and knew they were, of Neutral ancestry, consciously returning to their ancestral Neutral homeland. If this was so, memories of the reasons for this decision are now as lost among the present Seneca of the Grand River as is the ancient Neutral identity itself.

Principal Sources Consulted

Abler, Thomas S.

1984 The Kansas Connection: The Seneca Nation and the Iroquois Confederacy Council. In Extending the Rafters, J. Campisi, M . Foster & M. Mithun, eds., pp.81-93. Albany: State University of New York Press

Abler, Thomas S. and Elisabeth Tooker

1978 Seneca. Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15:505-517 Northeast, Bruce G. Trigger vol. ed., William C. Sturtevant gen. ed. Washington: Smithsonian Institution

Armstrong, William H.

1978 Warrior in Two Camps: Ely S. Parker, Union General and Seneca Chief. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

Blair, Emma Helen

1911 The Indian Tribes of the Upper Mississippi Valley and Region of the Great Lakes. As described by Nicolas Perrot (et al), translated, edited, annotated etc., by Emma Helen Blair, Volume 1. Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company.

Bryant, William C.

1890 Interesting Archaeological Studies in and about Buffalo. Address to the Buffalo  Archaeological Club, January 28, 1890 Buffalo: E. H. Hutchinson & Co.

de Champlain, Samuel
1929 The Works of Samuel de Champlain, Volume III. Translated and edited by H. H . Langton and W. F. Ganong. Toronto: The Champlain Society.

Coyne, James H.
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Garrad, Charles., Thomas S. Abler, and Larry K. Hancks. “On the Survival of the Neutrals.” Ontario Archaeological Society Arch Notes. Mar.-Apr. 2003: 12-21. Print.

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