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Tuscarora (tribe)

The Tuscarora ("hemp gatherers" ) are an American Indian tribe with members in New York, Canada, and North Carolina. The Tuscarora actually emigrated to New York from the region now known as Eastern Carolina, but had their first encounter with Europeans in North Carolina and Virginia.

History

After the Tuscarora War most of the nation removed from North Carolina to New York joining the Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy settling near the sponsoring Oneidas. The Tuscarora were originally a group of the ancient Iroquoian nations originating in North Carolina. There were two primary contingents of Tuscarora at this point, 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.

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.

The remaining Tuscarora signed a treaty with the 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, and 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. Those that 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. In 1831 the Tuscarora sold the remaining rights to their lands in North Carolina. By this point the 56,000 acres (227 km²) had been pared down to a mere 2,000 acres (8 km²). They lost even more land in the 20th century when developer Robert Moses expropriated of their land for a hydroelectric project in the vicinity of Niagara Falls. However, despite not having a reservation territory in North Carolina, significant numbers of Tuscarora remained there.

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

Modern bands

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

There is also significant evidence the Tuscarora are among the ancestors of the Lumbee, a tribe in Robeson County, North Carolina.

At present, though some tribes have the recognition of their state but not the US federal government, the Tuscarora are not officially recognized in the state of North Carolina or in any other state than New York. This is true in the case of Oklahoma by relocated Tuscaroras with the Seneca and Cayuga brought into the Northeast corner of former Indian Territory in the mid 19th century.

See also

External links


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