Onondaga, self-name Onoñda’gega’ (“People of the Hills”), tribe of Iroquoian-speaking North American Indians who lived in what is now the U.S. state of New York. The Onondaga traditionally inhabited villages of wood and bark longhouses occupied by related families.
Like other member-nations of the Haudenosaunee, the Onondaga Nation survives today as a sovereign, independent nation, living on a portion of its ancestral territory and maintaining its own distinct laws, language, customs, and culture.
Onondaga (the keepers of the Central Fire) is considered to be the capital of the Haudenosaunee, a name meaning “People of the Longhouse”. The Haudenosaunee are sometimes referred to as the Iroquois Confederacy, or Six Nations.
Most of the remaining Iroquois, except for the Oneida of Wisconsin and the Seneca-Cayuga of Oklahoma, are in New York; the Onondoga reservation there is still the capital of the Iroquois Confederacy. Large numbers of Iroquois in the United States live in urban areas rather than on reservations.
You can hear Onondaga being spoken here. If you’d like to know a few easy Onondaga words, “sge:no” (pronounced similar to sgay-no) is a friendly greeting, and “nya:weh” (pronounced similar to nyah-wenh) means ‘thank you.
Originally they were formed by five tribes: the Cayuga, Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, and Oneida. Later, in the 1700s, the Tuscarora tribe joined. The French named them the Iroquois, but they called themselves the Haudenosaunee which means People of the Longhouse. The British called them the Five Nations.
Onondaga Nation Council Tadodaho is a chief still sitting at Onondaga. Hiawatha, is still a chief among the Mohawk nation (he was adopted by the Mohawks to help form the first councils there). Each chief works with his Clan Mother and their clan. In council they are the voice of the people.
Onondaga Indian Language. Onondaga is an Iroquoian language of the Northeast Woodlands. Only about fifty Onondaga elders still speak the language fluently, most in Canada; but on both sides of the border there are young people working to keep their ancestral language alive.
The Cayuga Nation is known as “The People of the Great Swamp”. Cayugas are one the original five members of the Haudenosaunee “The People of the Longhouse”. Many goverance principles of the Haudenosaunee were installed into the American form of governance.
Allied-Signal bought Honeywell in 1999 and changed the Allied name to Honeywell. Honeywell dredged about 2.2 million cubic yards of dirt from the bottom of Onondaga Lake, much of it polluted by mercury and other chemicals dumped by Allied-Signal Inc.
Onondaga boy Onondaga men wore breechcloths with leggings. Here is a website with more information about the Iroquois breechcloth. Onondaga women wore wraparound skirts with shorter leggings. Men did not originally wear shirts in Onondaga culture, but women often wore a long tunic called an overdress.
The women who are our life givers were given the important responsibility of carrying on the clans and the citizenship of the Haudenosaunee. At Onondaga, there are nine “clans” which are; wolf, turtle, beaver, snipe, heron, deer, eel, bear, and hawk.
They are known to us today as the Wendat (also known as Huron,) Neutral-Wenro, Erie, Laurentian (or St. Lawrence Iroquoian,) Susquehannock, Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, Tuscarora, Nottaway, and Cherokee.
Mohawk, self-name Kanien’kehá:ka (“People of the Flint”), Iroquoian -speaking North American Indian tribe and the easternmost tribe of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy.
Etymology: French, from Algonquian, literally, ‘real adders’. Iroquois (ProperNoun) A person belonging to one of these tribes. Etymology: French, from Algonquian, literally, ‘real adders’.