Pennsylvania Indian Tribes

Delaware Indians. In early times this tribe occupied the eastern parts of Pennsylvania along Delaware River; later they were, for a time, on the Susquehanna and the headwaters of the Ohio. (See New Jersey Indian Tribes.)

Erie Indians. The Erie extended over the extreme northwestern corner of the State.

Honniasont Indians. An Iroquois term meaning “Wearing something round the neck.” Also called: Black Minqua, the word “black” said to refer to “a black badge on their breast,” while “Minqua” indicated their relationship to the White Minqua, or Susquehanna (q. v.).

Connections. The Honniasont belonged to the Iroquoian linguistic family.

Location. On the upper Ohio and its branches in western Pennsylvania and the neighboring parts of Wet Virginia and Ohio. (See also Ohio Indian Tribes.)

History. The Honniasont appear first as a tribe which assisted the Susquehanna in war and traded with the Dutch, but a little later fey are reported to have been destroyed by the Susquehanna and Seneca. The remnant seems to have settled among the Seneca, and a Minqua town, probably occupied by their descendants, is mentioned from time to time among the latter and in the neighborhood of their former country.

Population. This is unknown, but as late as 1662 the Honniasont must have been fairly numerous if the testimony of five Susquehanna chiefs taken in that year is to be relied upon, which was to the effect that they were then expecting 800 Honniasont warriors to join them.

Iroquois Indians. In very early times these Indians entered Pennsylvania only as hunters and warriors, but at a later period they made numerous settlements in the State. (See New York Indian Tribes.)

Saluda Indians. A band of “Saluda” Indians from South Carolina moved to Conestoga in the eighteenth century. They may have been Shawnee.

Saponi Indians. The majority of the Saponi lived at Shamokin for a few years some time after 1740 but then continued on to join the Iroquois.

Shawnee Indians. Bands of Shawnee were temporarily located at Conestoga, Sewickley, and other points in Pennsylvania.

Susquehanna Indians. A shortened form of Susquehannock, meaning unknown.


Akhrakouaehronon, given in Jesuit Relations, from a town name. See Atra’kwae’ronnons’ below.
Andaste or Conestoga, from Kanastoge, “at the place of the immersed pole.”
Atra’kwae’ronnons, from the name of a town, and probably signifying “at the place of the sun,” or “at the south.”
Minqua, from an Algonquian word meaning “stealthy,” “treacherous.”
White Minqua, to distinguish them from the Black Minqua. (See Honniasont above.)

Connections. The Susquehanna belonged to the Iroquoian linguistic stock.

Location. On the Susquehanna River in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.


Originally Susquehanna may have been the name of a confederacy of tribes rather than a single tribe. Hewitt (in Hodge, 1910) suggests that the Wyoming (in the territory about the present Wyoming) may have been such a subtribe. The barely mentioned Wysox, on a small creek flowing into the Susquehanna at the present Wysox, was perhaps another. Mention is made of the Turtle, Fox, and Wolf “families,” evidently clans, and of the Ohongeeoquena, Unquehiett, Kaiquariegahaga, Usququhaga, and Seconondihago “nations,” also perhaps clans.


Smith (1884) mentions several, but Hewitt (in Hodge, 1910) is of the opinion that the names really belong to independent tribes. Champlain says that there were more than 20 villages, though the only one named is Carantouan, thought to have been on the site of the present Waverly, N. Y.

History. When encountered by the English, French, and Dutch early in the seventeenth century, the Susquehanna were a numerous people, but even then they were at war with the Iroquois by whom they were conquered in 1676 and forced to settle near the Oneida in New York. Later they were allowed to return to the Susquehanna River and reoccupy their ancient country, but they wasted away steadily and in 1763 the remnant, consisting of 20 persons, was massacred by Whites inflamed with accounts of Indian atrocities on the far frontier.

Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that the Susquehanna numbered 5,000 in 1600. In 1648 they are said to have had 550 warriors.

Connection in which they have become noted. The name Susquehanna is perpetuated in that of the Susquehanna River and in the names of a county and a town. Conestoga is the designation of two places in Lancaster County, Pa., and one in Chester County, and was given to a widely used type of wagon.

Tuscarora Indians. These Indians on their way to join the Iroquois bands of New York stopped from time to time in the Susquehanna Valley.

Tutelo Indians. Most of these Indians lived at Shamokin with the Saponi and accompanied them to the Iroquois Nation.

Wenrohronon Indians. This tribe occupied some parts of the State along the northwestern border. (See New York Indian Tribes.)


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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