Oneida Reservation Map

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Historical Perspective

The Oneida people experienced several years of turmoil and hardship before seeking new and fertile lands in the west. For centuries prior to the American Revolution, the Oneida Nation controlled millions of acres of dense forests, beautiful lakes and rivers abundant with game and resourced that provided their people with prosperous livelihoods.

Upon returning home after the Revolutionary War, however, Oneida Warriors found their villages had been burned and pillaged by the British Army as well as armies from the 13 colonies.

The Oneida Nation had yielded 5.3 million acres of land within the state of New York through two treaties in 1785 and 1788, prior to the Constitution. The state of New York and various land companies contrived to remove the Iroquois from their homelands, especially the Oneida, whose land was in direct route of the Erie Canal.

In 1821, a delegation of the six Nations met with representatives from the Menominee and Winnebago Nations to negotiate for fertile and open lands along the western Great Lakes. In an 1822 Treaty, the Oneida then purchased a large section of land in a territory that would soon become the state of Wisconsin.

The first group of Oneidas migrated and settled in what is now the Grand Chute and Kaukauna area. Later that year the second group of Oneidas arrived from New York and settled along the southern area of Duck Creek. Official reservation boundaries were established pursuant to the 1838 Treaty with the Oneidas, and in 1841 another migration of Oneidas arrived in Northeastern Wisconsin and settled around the area known as Chicago Corners, north of Freedom.

Once again, however, Oneida lands would fall prey to United States expansion. In 1877, Congress passes the Indian Allotment Act (also known as Dawes Act) which allocated the land to individuals.

Through the next several years, tribal member ownership of reservation land continued to dwindle. Since the concept of taxation was so new and not understood by the Oneida people, many Oneidas lost ownership of their lands by failing to pay their taxes. Many also lost their lands due to the fraudulent methods of land companies and the invasion of non-Indians who desired their fertile lands. By 1924, the Tribe and tribal members only held title to a few hundred acres on the Oneida Reservation.