Tuscarora Portraits
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Originally from New York, North Carolina
Template:Country data New York (New York)
Template:Country data North Carolina (North Carolina)
Template:Country data Canada (Ontario)

English, Skarure


Kai'hwi'io, Kanoh'hon'io, Kahni'kwi'io, Christianity, Longhouse, Handsome Lake, Other Indigenous religions

Related ethnic groups

Seneca Nation, Onondaga Nation, Cayuga Nation, Oneida Nation, Mohawk Nation, other Iroquoian peoples, Lumbee Nation, Meherrin Nation, Nottaway (Cheroenhaka Nation)

The Tuscarora ("hemp gatherers"[1]) are a Native American people with members in New York, Canada, and North Carolina. The Tuscarora emigrated from the region now known as Western New York to the region now known as Eastern Carolina prior to the arrival of Europeans in North America. They had their first encounter with Europeans in North Carolina and Virginia. [2][3][4]

After 18th century wars, most of the Tuscarora left North Carolina and aligned with the Iroquois in New York, especially their sponsors, the Oneida.


There were two primary contingents of Tuscarora in 17th and early 18th century North Carolina, a northern group led by Chief Tom Blunt, and a southern group led by Chief Hancock. Chief Blunt occupied the area around what is present-day Bertie County, North Carolina, on the Roanoke River; Chief Hancock was closer to New Bern, occupying the area south of the Pamlico River. While Chief Blunt became close friends with the Blount family of the Bertie region, Chief Hancock found his villages raided and his people frequently kidnapped and sold into slavery. Both groups were heavily impacted by the introduction of European diseases, and both were rapidly having their lands stolen by the encroaching colonists. Ultimately, Chief Hancock felt there was no alternative but to attack the settlers. Tom Blunt did not become involved in the war at this point.

The southern Tuscarora, led by Chief Hancock, worked in conjunction with the Pamlico, the Cothechney, the Coree, the Mattamuskeet and the Matchepungoe nations to attack the settlers in a wide range of locations in a short time period. Principal targets were the planters on the Roanoke River, the planters on the Neuse and Trent Rivers and the city of Bath. The first attacks began on September 22, 1711, and hundreds of settlers were ultimately killed. Several key political figures were either killed or driven off in the subsequent months.

Governor Edward Hyde called out the militia of North Carolina and secured the assistance of the Legislature of South Carolina, who provided six hundred militia and three hundred sixty allied Native Americans under Col. Barnwell. This force attacked the southern Tuscarora and other nations in Craven County at Fort Narhantes on the banks of the Neuse River in 1712. The Tuscarora were "defeated with great slaughter; more than three hundred were killed, and one hundred made prisoners."

Chief Blunt was then offered the chance to control the entire Tuscarora Nation if he assisted the settlers in putting down Chief Hancock. Chief Blunt was able to capture Chief Hancock, and the settlers executed him in 1712. In 1713 the Southern Tuscaroras lost Fort Neoheroka, with 900 killed or captured.

File:Fort Neoheroka Historical Marker.jpg

It was at this point that the majority of the Southern Tuscarora began migrating to New York to escape the settlers in North Carolina. The migration period took approximately 90 years to complete. However, significant numbers of Tuscarora continued to live in North Carolina, some openly, others in hiding.

After the Tuscarora War (1711-1715), most of the nation moved from North Carolina to New York, where they joined the Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy. They settled near the sponsoring Oneidas. The Tuscarora were originally part of a group of ancient Iroquoian nations originating in the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie regions, so they were reuniting with tribes familiar to them.

The remaining Tuscarora signed a treaty with the North Carolina settlers in June 1718 granting them a tract of land on the Roanoke River in what is now Bertie County. This was the area already occupied by Tom Blunt and was specified as 56,000 acres (227 km²); Tom Blunt, who had taken on the name Blount, was recognized by the Legislature of North Carolina as King Tom Blount. The remaining Southern Tuscarora were removed from their homes on the Pamlico River and made to move to Bertie. In 1722, the Bertie County reservation was chartered. Over the next several decades, the remaining Tuscarora lands were continually diminished as they were sold off in deals that were frequently designed to take advantage of the Tuscarora.

In New York, part of the Tuscarora and Oneida nation sided against the rest of the Iroquois Confederacy by fighting for the newly established Colonial government during the American Revolutionary War. Most of those Indians who remained allies of Great Britain later followed Joseph Brant into Ontario.

In 1803 the final contingent of the Tuscarora migrated to New York to re-join with the nation at their reservation in Niagara County, under a treaty directed by Thomas Jefferson. They lost land in the 20th century when city commissioner Robert Moses expropriated Template:Convert/acre of their land for a hydroelectric project in the vicinity of Niagara Falls.[5]

In 1831 the Tuscarora in North Carolina sold the remaining rights to their lands. By this point the 56,000 acres (227 km²) had been pared down to a mere 2,000 acres (8 km²). However, despite not having a reservation territory in North Carolina, significant numbers of Tuscarora remain there.


Skarure, the Tuscarora language, is a member of the northern branch of the Iroquoian languages.

Government-recognized Tuscarora bandsEdit

Tuscarora bands without government recognitionEdit

There are several bands, groups, and organizations without federal recognition:

Historians and Tuscarora officials disagree about recent claims that the state-recognized Lumbee, a tribe in Robeson County, North Carolina, have ancestors among the Tuscarora.[6] The official tribe says that the majority of the tribe moved north to New York and does not recognize Lumbee claims of connection. According to their leadership, individuals remaining in North Carolina no longer had tribal status. At present, the Tuscarora are not officially recognized in the state of North Carolina or in any other state than New York. Only the recognized tribe has the right to set qualifications for membership. The Lumbee are recognized as an Indian tribe by the state of North Carolina.

Additionally, there is a historical research question as to whether the Meherrin tribe and the Nottaway tribe originated as bands of the Tuscarora, which were differently named by the English; this is thought to be possible, but not yet proven.

Some people of Tuscarora descent now live in Oklahoma. Mostly, they were descendants of groups absorbed by relocated Seneca and Cayuga bands, brought into the Northeast corner of former Indian Territory in the mid-19th century official relocations.

Various bands of the Tuscarora have worked for federal and state recognition. Efforts include the Petition of the Hatteras Tuscarora in the 1970s and a recent federal lawsuit [7] filed in US District Court on March 31, 2006 on behalf of Skaroreh Katenuaka Nation "AKA: Tuscarora Nation of Indians of North Carolina" who are centered in Robeson County, North Carolina.

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. Catholic Encyclopedia: Iroquois
  2. American Anthropologist, American Anthropological Association, Anthropological Society of Washington (Washington, D.C.), American Ethnological Society.
  3. Ancient History of the Six Nations, by David Cusick (pub. 1828)
  4. knowledge by oral tradition
  5. Niagara Falls History of Power
  6. Gerald M. Sider, Living Indian histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora people in North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003
  7. Case Number 1:06-cv-00612-RWR: Martha Maynor, Lester Locklear, Alford Maynor, Skaroreh Katenuaka Nation, a/ka Tuscarora Nation of Indians of North Carolina, v. Secretary of the United States Department of Interior

External linksEdit

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