The Cayuga Nation has a rich history of successes and challenges and will continue to persevere and endure for future generations.
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In the 12th century, the Cayuga Nation, along with the Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk Nations united under the Great Law of Peace to form the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse) Confederacy in order to end inter-tribal fighting and bring a sustainable peace to the land. This structure of government and its constitution influenced the creation of many modern day constitutions.
The Cayuga Nation is made up of five clans. These clans signify family lineage and a Cayuga citizen’s clan is determined by the clan of their mother. Each of us is a member of one of the five clans – Bear, Heron, Snipe, Turtle and Wolf. Each clan has a Clan Mother, whose role it is to take care of her clan members. Each Clan has Council Representatives who form the decision making body of the Nation.
All was stable until the Revolutionary War. Although the Cayuga Nation remained neutral, it became the target of U.S. military attacks. Cayuga villages were destroyed and its orchards burned during the campaigns of General Sullivan and Colonel Butler. The Cayugas were forced from their homeland and the land was dispersed in parcels to American soldiers.
In November of 1794 it appeared that the wrongful taking of Cayuga land would be made right. The Treaty of Canandaigua was signed between the Sachems of the Confederacy Nations and the United States of America. This Treaty affirmed the Cayuga Nation’s rightful reservation as 64,000 acres of sovereign land. Unfortunately, the Treaty was ignored by New York. The Cayuga homeland was not returned to its owners.
For the next 250 years the Cayuga Nation pursued its land claim against New York State. In the early 21st century we made the decision to take affirmative action. The Cayuga Nation decided to start reacquiring its land by simply purchasing it.
The Tree of Peace