The Seneca and Wyandot of Kansas

On the south side of the St. Lawrence lived the Seneca, so the Wyandot traditions recite. The Seneca claimed the island upon which the city of Montreal is built. The Seneca and Wyandot have always claimed a cousin relation with each other. They say that they have been neighbors from time immemorial. Their languages are almost the same, each being the dialect of an older common mother-tongue. They are as nearly alike as are the Seneca and Mohawk dialects. The two tribes live side by side at this time, and each can speak the tongue of the other as well as it speaks its own.

When the Wyandot came to the St. Lawrence, and how long they remained there, cannot now be determined. Their traditions say that they were among those that met Cartier at Hochelaga in 1535. According to their traditions, Hochelaga was a Seneca town.

It has been the opinion of writers upon the subject that the Wyandot migrated from the St. Lawrence directly to the point where they were found by the French. Whatever the fact may be, their traditions tell a different story. Their route was up the St. Lawrence, which they crossed, and along the south shore of Lake Ontario. They held this course until they arrived at the Falls of Niagara, where they settled and remained for some years.

The Wyandot removed from the Falls of Niagara, the site now occupied by Toronto, Canada. Their removal from Niagara was in consequence of the Iroquois coming into their historic seat in what is now New York. This settlement they called by their word which means “plenty,” or “a land of plenty.” They named it so because of the abundance of game and fish they found, and of the abundance of corn, beans, squashes and tobacco they raised. The present name of that city is only a slight change of the old Wyandot name, which was pronounced “To-run-to.”

As the Iroquois pushed farther westward, the Wyandot became uneasy because of former wars with them and finally abandoned their country at Toronto and migrated northward. Here they came in contact with the Hurons, who tried to expel them, but were unable to do so. The French found them in alliance with the Hurons, but record that they had but recently been at war with that people. When the Jesuits went among the Hurons the Wyandot were a part of the Huron Confederacy. Their history from this point is well known.

If it turns out that there is any reliance to be placed in the traditions of the Wyandots, they were found in their historic seat about one hundred and five years from the time they were first seen by the French at Montreal in 1535. Their migration from the St. Lawrence, by way of the Niagara Falls and Toronto to the Blue Mountains on the shores of the Nottawassaga Bay, occurred after the French first came to Canada.

The Wyandot were involved in the general ruin wrought by the Iroquois.

The Wyandot came to Kansas from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, in the summer of 1843. They stopped about Westport, Mo., and some of them camped on the south and east side of the Kansas River north of the Shawnee line, the land being now in Kansas City, Kansas. By the terms of the treaty made at Upper Sandusky, March 17, 1842, the Wyandot were given one hundred and forty-eight thousand acres of land, to be located in the Indian country which became Kansas. The lands there to be had did not suit them. Their reservation was located on the Neosho. They were far advanced toward civilization, and did not wish to live so far from a civilized community. They had attempted to purchase a strip of land seven miles wide by twenty-five miles long adjoining the State of Missouri from the Shawnee, but that tribe finally refused to sell. The Wyandot justly complained that they had given both the Shawnees and Delaware homes in Ohio, and now neither tribe really desired to sell them a home in the West. But the Delaware did, at length sell them thirty-nine sections in the fork of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, now the eastern part of Wyandotte County, for forty-eight thousand dollars. They moved on this tract in the winter of 1843-44.

The first Mission ever founded in the world by the Methodist Episcopal Church was among the Wyandot at Upper Sandusky. This mission was brought bodily to Kansas by the Wyandots. It is now the Washington Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Kansas. The division in the Methodist Episcopal Church caused dissension in the Wyandot nation, and the Church South, in that Nation, organized at that time. This Church also is an active organization in Kansas City, Kansas, at this time. This author has in his collection of historical papers the records of the Sandusky Mission and the documents relating to the separation of the Church in Kansas.

By treaty concluded by the Wyandot with the United States at Washington, D. C., January 31, 1855, they dissolved their tribal relations and became citizens of the United States. They took their lands in severalty, and the entire reservation was surveyed and allotted to the members of the tribe as citizens. The titles to the land held in Wyandotte County are based on the U. S. patents to these allotments. The towns of Armstrong, Armourdale, Wyandotte, and old Kansas City, Kansas, were consolidated by act of the legislature into the present Kansas City, Kansas.

The unsettled times in Kansas prior to and during the Civil War worked hardship on many of the Wyandot. They lost their property and became very poor. By treaty made February 23, 1867, the Government provided a reservation of twenty thousand acres of land on the Neosho, in what is now Oklahoma, for these Wyandot. They immediately gathered there and resumed their tribal relations. Most of the Wyandot people are now to be found there.


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