Erie Indian Moundbuilders Tribal Nation

Erie Indian History

Fred Axtell, (Dancing Owl), Research Manager & Victoria Taylor-True

The Great Ice Age, a recent chapter in the Earth's history, was a period of recurring widespread glaciations. Mountain glaciers formed on all continents, the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland were more extensive and thicker than today, and vast glaciers, in places as much as several thousand feet thick, spread across North America and Eurasia. LINK

Our world, as we know it, was sculpted long ago by glaciers and the persistent forces of weather, the valley landscape is a diversity of river floodplain, steep and gentle valley walls, tributaries and their ravines, and upland plateaus, brings us to our quest to find our history.

Long before the white man set foot on American soil, the American Indians, or rather the Native Americans, had been living in America. When the Europeans came here, there were probably about 10 million Indians populating America north of present-day Mexico. And they had been living in America for quite some time. It is believed that the first Native Americans arrived during the last ice-age, approximately 20,000 - 30,000 years ago through a land-bridge across the Bering Sound, from northeastern Siberia into Alaska or along the N Pacific coast in a series of migrations. The oldest documented Indian cultures in North America are Sandia (15000 BC), Clovis (10000 BC) and Folsom (8000 BC)

From Alaska they spread east and south. The several waves of migration are said to account for the many native linguistic families. Some scholars accept evidence of Native American existence in the Americas back more than 25,000 years, while many others believe that people arrived later than that, perhaps as recently as 12,000 years ago. In pre-Columbian times (prior to 1492) the Native American population of the area N of Mexico is conservatively estimated to have been about 1.8 million, with some authorities believing the population to have been as large as 10 million or more. This population dropped dramatically within a few decades of the first contacts with Europeans, however, as many Native Americans died from smallpox, influenza, measles, and other diseases to which they had not previously been exposed. Native Americans were far more likely to die. From prehistoric times until recent historic times there were roughly six major cultural areas: Northwest Coast, Plains, Plateau, Eastern Woodlands, Northern, and Southwest.

But findings have shown that at least some of the first humans who came to the New World may have arrived by boat rather than by a land route. Recent radiocarbon dates indicate they are about 13,000 years old. If confirmed, that would make them the oldest remains ever found in North America.

Archaeologists' traditional view of the peopling of the Americas holds that the first inhabitants were the big game hunters called Clovis people, whose ancestors crossed the Bering land bridge and swept southward through the Americas perhaps 11,200 years ago. But dates as early as 12,500 years ago at a site in Chile have raised questions about this model, and many researchers have speculated that the first Americans set the pattern for later immigrants by arriving by boat, leaving few traces of their journey. Now on pages 1830 and 1833, two independent research teams report finding the first hard evidence, albeit indirect, for the maritime settlement theory, revealing an ancient maritime culture in South America about 11,000 years ago. LINK

In some areas of the New World, most notably the Andean region, the Amazon basin, Mesoamerica, the SW United States, and the Mississippi Basin and Eastern Woodlands, Archaic Native Americans evolved into sedentary agricultural societies, generally beginning about 2000 B.C., although recent radiocarbon dating of Caral, in Peru's Supe valley, indicates that a city of several thousand arose there c.2600 B.C. LINK

Excavations at Quebrada Jaguay 280 (QJ-280) (16°30'S) in south coastal Peru demonstrated that Paleoindian-age people of the Terminal Pleistocene (about 11,100 to 10,000 carbon-14 years before the present or about 13,000 to 11,000 calibrated years before the present) in South America relied on marine resources while resident on the coast, which extends the South American record of maritime exploitation by a millennium. This site supports recent evidence that Paleoindian-age people had diverse subsistence systems. The presence of obsidian at QJ-280 shows that the inhabitants had contact with the adjacent Andean highlands during the Terminal Pleistocene.
LINK Science 18 September 1998: Vol. 281. no. 5384, pp. 1830 - 1832 DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5384.1830

The archaeological site of Quebrada Tacahuay, Peru, dates to 12,700 to 12,500 calibrated years before the present (10,770 to 10,530 carbon-14 years before the present). It contains some of the oldest evidence of maritime-based economic activity in the New World. Recovered materials include a hearth, lithic cutting tools and flakes, and abundant processed marine fauna, primarily seabirds and fish. Sediments below and above the occupation layer were probably generated by El Niño events, indicating that El Niño was active during the Pleistocene as well as during the early and middle Holocene.
LINK Science 18 September 1998: Vol. 281. no. 5384, pp. 1833 - 1835 DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5384.1833

Three human bones found off the Southern California coast may rewrite the history of the Americas.The bones -- two thigh bones and a kneecap -- were found in 1959, buried 30 feet deep in the side wall of Arlington Canyon on Santa Rosa Island in the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara. Phil C. Orr, who was curator of anthropology and paleontology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, discovered them. LINK

Successive cultures have lived and left their mark on Western New York. The first to have inhabited the region after the glacial retreat, was believed to be the Clovis people (10,000 B.C.) followed by the Lamokas (3500-2500 B.C.), who hunted and foraged through the countryside. The Lamokas were succeeded by the Hopewell Indians, mound builders who flourished in the region around 300 AD. They excelled in copper work and stone carvings, grew and smoked tobacco, and were probably the first large-scale farmers in the region, cultivating large corn fields in the rich Genesee River floodplain.

Following the departure of the glaciers, the first humans to enter the Cuyahoga Valley came as early as 12,000 to 10,000 B.C., and are known as “Paleo-Indians,” small hunting and foraging groups which roamed through the area following herds of mastodon and mammoth. During the Archaic Period (7000 to 800 B.C.), small nomadic groups grew in number and density and tool-making of cold-hammered copper became common. The “Archaic Indians” settled only seasonally in campsites in interfluvial rock shelters along bluff edges and the floodplain. (Natural processes have obliterated most of these sites.) Toward the end of this era, group territoriality and long distance trading systems began.

Natives, North American, peoples who occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th cent. Although it is believed that the Indians originated in Asia, few if any of them came from India. The name "Indian" was first applied to them by Christopher Columbus, who believed mistakenly that the mainland and islands of America were part of the Indies, in Asia.

The Eastern Woodlands area covered the eastern part of the United States, roughly from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River, and included the Great Lakes. The region from the Ohio River S to the Gulf of Mexico, with its forests and fertile soil, was the heart of the southeastern part of the Eastern Woodlands cultural area. There before c.500 the inhabitants were seminomads who hunted, fished, and gathered roots and seeds. Between 500 and 900 they adopted agriculture, tobacco smoking, pottery making, and burial mounds. By c.1300 the agricultural economy was well established, and artifacts found in the mounds show that trade was widespread. Long before the Europeans arrived, the peoples of the Natchez and Muskogean branches of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic family were farmers who used hoes with stone, bone, or shell blades. They hunted with bow and arrow and blowgun, caught fish by poisoning streams, and gathered berries, fruit, and shellfish. They had excellent pottery, sometimes decorated with abstract figures of animals or humans. Since warfare was frequent and intense, the villages were enclosed by wooden palisades reinforced with earth. Some of the large villages, usually ceremonial centers, dominated the smaller settlements of the surrounding countryside. There were temples for sun worship; rites were elaborate and featured an altar with perpetual fire, extinguished and rekindled each year in a “new fire” ceremony. The society was commonly divided into classes, with a chief, his children, nobles, and commoners making up the hierarchy. For a discussion of the earliest Woodland groups, see the separate article Eastern Woodlands culture.

The Woodland Indians inhabited North America from before 1000 BC to 1000 AD. They were very advanced technically and culturally, unlike their roaming ancestors, the Archaic Indians. Very limited facts of the Woodland Indians exist in Georgia. Before 1000 BC, their ancestors began to develop traditions and created trade networks. Around 1000 BC, it seems that they stopped moving from place to place, and started to settle in one area for longer periods of time. Due to the fact that they remained in one place, their culture began to develop. As a result, they started to grow crops, hunt, develop better weapons for hunting, and created vast trade networks that expanded hundreds of miles.

Around 500 AD, the late Woodland culture created more advanced weapons, such as, the bow and arrow, which caught on throughout the tribes making hunting easier. Growing crops were extensive,especially maize, beans, and squash. The most important development of this era was the dramatic increase of population. The Cherokee Indians are related to the early Woodland Indians.

Throughout most of the nineteenth century, it was believed that the tens of thousands of earthen mounds that dotted the central United States were engineering feats created by a mysterious, lost race - a race that had been destroyed by the less civilized Indians. By the late 1880s, it was becoming clear that the mounds were actually built by ancestors of the numerous native American groups. The history of ideas associated with the mounds and their builders, from the mid-nineteenth century , to contemporary archaeological research in the Illinois River Valley.

It is now known that there were at least two major mound-building cultures: the Hopewell, which flourished between 300 B.C. and 300 A.D., and the Mississippian, which peaked around 1200 A.D. Hopewellian mounds are usually conical, earthen structures concealing burials in which marvelously carved stone pipes and mica cutouts are found along with skeletal remains. The later Mississippian mounds tend to be square or rectangular, massive, flat-topped, mesa-like platforms on which houses or temples were erected. Archaeologists believe that a shift to settled maize agriculture had occurred by the time the Mississippian cultures appeared. Such an economic base permitted the growth of veritable metropolises, such as Cahokia, near East St. Louis, where the largest mound stands 100 feet high and covers an area of almost 15 acres. At Cahokia, over 100 mounds formed the heart of a city-state that may have had a population of 20,000 and dominated an area about the size of New York State.

The earliest documented mounds were constructed in Louisiana about 4000 b.c., when groups in the lower Mississippi Valley established settled village life. Although these burial mounds were sometimes large, they were isolated constructions associated with distinct villages. Individual mounds and sets of associated mounds built in the millennia that followed are distributed in a manner suggestive of a similar connection with distinct communities inhabiting a particular territory over many generations. One variant of the typical circular, dome-shaped burial mound is the earthwork built in the outline of an animal. Such effigy mounds were particularly common in the upper Great Lakes area from a.d. 500 to 1000. Whatever the shape, the basic mortuary use of the mounds by small, self-contained communities continued up into the historic period.

A different function is indicated by the truly massive mounds and associated earthworks first exemplified by the Poverty Point site (Louisiana). These were mound groups that rose to prominence as a place of multi-group aggregation, where people from distant areas came together. As befitted the role that such sites have in cementing social relations among separate peoples, these assemblages of earthworks were more complicated than the mounded cemeteries of local, self-sufficient villages. At its heyday around 1000 b.c., Poverty Point covered about one hundred acres and featured six concentric rings of low embankments of earth.

Later in the Middle Woodland period, around the time of the beginning of the Common Era, aggregation centers became widely distributed from the edge of the Great Plains to the Appalachians and from southern Ontario to peninsular Florida. Among these were the impressive earthworks encountered by colonists in the upper Ohio Valley. The embankment-surrounded hill crests (such as Serpent Mound) and the massive geometric enclosures of the Ohio Valley belong to this time. These works feature the precise laying out of earthen embankments that enclosed sacred, ritual space.

Mounds and other constructions were placed in various positions within a particular location. The largest hilltop enclosure is called Fort Ancient. Encompassing about one hundred acres, it is surrounded by an embankment ranging in height from four to twenty-three feet. It is breached by seventy openings and appears, in common with other earthworks, to have been created piecemeal over a century or more. Although the location of such hilltop enclosures has inspired visions of embattled defense, their construction offers no evidence of a military objective, and all of the archaeological evidence points to mortuary and ritual use only.

The geometric earthworks laid out on broad river bottoms offer further interest because of the precision of their geometric layouts. Circles, squares, and octagons were constructed singly or in attached groups, in conjunction with round burial mounds and paths bordered by low embankments. The Newark earthworks represent an unusually large assortment of such elements, with a well-preserved octagon and an impressive great circle twelve hundred feet in diameter. The geometric works are connected by bordered pathways extending over four square miles. Each example of mounds with embankments, whether large or small, indicates the remains of mortuary and sacred architecture connected with multigroup aggregations.

With the rise of communities based on corn agriculture around a.d. 1000, the flat-topped pyramidal mound came to predominate throughout the Southeast. This construction was designed to serve as a platform for chiefly residences and shrines controlled by the chief and his priesthood. Mortuary mounds continued as members of a set of mounds at most sites that were dedicated to distinct functions. These sets of mounds were arranged in cardinal directions, and the space they delimited often defined public plazas. Fortifications with bastions accompany many of these mound-bearing towns. The largest mound in eastern North America, called Monks Mound, is one of about one hundred mounds of at least three types present at the great Cahokia site (Illinois), which is spread over two square miles. Monks Mound is one hundred feet high and has a basal area of about thirteen acres.

After a.d. 1300 mound construction declined in frequency and amount throughout the Southeast. By the sixteenth century mounds that were still in use were occupied, with little attempt to add to or alter them. Archaeology thus has demonstrated that there have been dramatic changes in the way Native Americans have made use of earth to create architectural features. The seeming disregard for earthen architecture by certain tribes during the colonial period happens to be part of an ongoing process. As a consequence, the Mound Builder label has to be regarded as a description of ancient Native American civilization rather than as something describing a fundamentally different group of people. LINK Brian M. Fagan, Ancient North America: The Archaeology of a Continent (London: Thames and Hudson, 1991); Roger C. Kennedy, Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilization (New York: Free Press, 1994); Robert Silverberg, Mound Builders of Ancient America (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1968).

The EIMTN is the direct descendant of Mississippi Valley Erie-Mound Builders Indians, who called themselves hErie, Alliwegis, sometimes called Talliwegis.

As soon as we assert we were the hErie-Alliwegis, others usually say we are related to the Iroquois Nations because that’s the way they heard it. But the Iroquois in the 5 Nation ,now 6 Nation Confederacy are uniquely different from the Alliwegis, who were from the Mississippi Valley Erie-Mound Builders Culture. We also are uniquely different from the Iroquois 5 Nations. We mainly are the Eries, the Erie-Neutral Nation and Erie-Sussquehannocks to name only a few of the 70 plus names we were given or called. To tangentalize on Pogo Possum, we have all met the Iroquois on the battlefield and they are not us.

Erie is a short form of the Iroquian word "Erielhonan" meaning literally "long tail"" and referring to the panther (cougar or mountain lion). Hence their French name was Nation du Chat (cat nation).
Their other Iroquoian names - Awenrehronon and Rhilerrhonon (Rhierrhonon) - carry the same meaning, although the Huron muddied the situation by using Yenresh (panther people) for both the Erie and Neutrals.
Other names which seem to have been used for the Erie were: Atirhagenret, Chat (French), Gaquagaono, Kahqua (Kahkwa) (Seneca), Rhagenratka, and Black Mingua (Dutch).

The Dutch and Swedes also heard about us through their trade with the Susquehannock, but never actually met the Erie. Like other Iroquian peoples in the area, the Erie were an agricultural people. We were traditional enemies of the Iroquois, and there had been many wars between us before the Europeans. The Iroquois, who always mentioned the Erie were great warriors, have verified the long-term hostility, and also add that the Erie frequently used poisoned arrows in war.

The Neutral Indians were the leaders of a group of ten tribes of the Iroquois Nation.
Other tribes included the Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Huron, Petun, Erie and the Susquehannock.
The first Europeans in the Delta, arriving in the 1500s, paid little attention to the mysterious earthworks, by now mostly abandoned remnants of another time.
But curiosity began in earnest around 1848. Literary fantasies abounded, with a "moundbuilders theory" hypothesizing that a "people of great intelligence and skill" had simply disappeared, perhaps to South America.

Thomas Jefferson, himself an amateur archeologist, had been closer to the truth decades earlier, observing that Native Americans at an earthwork "said about it some time, with expressions which were construed to be those of sorrow."

Today, little is left of the moundbuilders' legacy. Their earthworks have been plowed, pilfered, eroded, and built over. Mounds have been found in the North-Eastern United states.

Debates arose in the U.S as to whether the Moundbuilders were a separate group than the American Indians that inhabited the areas of Ohio and New York, and were a "lost race." Some argue that the Indians and the Moundbuilders were the same group. Henry Schoolcraft found cultural similarities between the Mound builders and natives of the area.

In 1862, Daniel Wilson published Prehistoric Man: Researches into the Origin of Civilization in the Old and New World. He disagreed with Schoolcraft, believing that the ancestors of Indians built the mounds. He believed that Mexico was the homeland of the Moundbuilders. Many people questioned who they were and where they came from. The debate continued throughout the late 1800s, and several other authors wrote books on their theories about the Moundbuilders. In later years, Cyrus Thomas and John Wesley Powell both pursued the questions of the Moundbuilders. Thomas later demolished the separate race theory. Sabloff, Jeremy. Gordon R. Willey. A History of American Archaeology. Thames and Hudson, London. 1980.

[ Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1651, 5, 6. Le Mercier, in the Relation of 1654, preserves the speech of a Huron chief, in which he speaks of this affair, and adds some particulars not mentioned by Ragueneau. He gives thirty-four as the number killed. ]

Here was a sweet morsel of vengeance. The miseries of the Hurons were lighted up with a brief gleam of joy; but it behooved them to make a timely retreat from their island before the Iroquois came to exact a bloody retribution. Towards spring, while the lake was still frozen, many of them escaped on the ice, while another party afterwards followed in canoes. A few, who had neither strength to walk nor canoes to transport them, perforce remained behind, and were soon massacred by the Iroquois. The fugitives directed their course to the Grand Manitoulin Island, where they remained for a short time, and then, to the number of about four hundred, descended the Ottawa, and rejoined their countrymen who had gone to Quebec the year before.

These united parties, joined from time to time by a few other fugitives, formed a settlement on land belonging to the Jesuits, near the south-western extremity of the Isle of Orleans, immediately below Quebec. Here the Jesuits built a fort, like that on Isle St. Joseph, with a chapel, and a small house for the missionaries, while the bark dwellings of the Hurons were clustered around the protecting ramparts. [ 1 ] Tools and seeds were given them, and they were encouraged to cultivate the soil. Gradually they rallied from their dejection, and the mission settlement was beginning to wear an appearance of thrift, when, in 1656, the Iroquois made a descent upon them, and carried off a large number of captives, under the very cannon of Quebec; the French not daring to fire upon the invaders, lest they should take revenge upon the Jesuits who were at that time in their country. This calamity was, four years after, followed by another, when the best of the Huron warriors, including their leader, the crafty and valiant Etienne Annaotaha, were slain, fighting side by side with the French, in the desperate conflict of the Long Sault. [ Relation, 1660 (anonymous), 14. ]

The removal from Notre-Dame de Foy took place at the end of 1673, and the chapel was finished in the following year. Compare Vie de Chaumonot with Dablon, Relation, 1672-73, p. 21; and Ibid., Relation 1673-79, p. 259. ]

But the Hurons were not destined to remain permanently even here; for, before the end of the century, they removed to a place four miles distant, now called New Lorette, or Indian Lorette. It was a wild spot, covered with the primitive forest, and seamed by a deep and tortuous ravine, where the St. Charles foams, white as a snow-drift, over the black ledges, and where the sunlight struggles through matted boughs of the pine and fir, to bask for brief moments on the mossy rocks or flash on the hurrying waters. On a plateau beside the torrent, another chapel was built to Our Lady, and another Huron town sprang up; and here, to this day, the tourist finds the remnant of a lost people, harmless weavers of baskets and sewers of moccasins, the Huron blood fast bleaching out of them, as, with every generation, they mingle and fade away in the French population around.

History- After abandoning southwestern Ohio some time before 1673, the Mosopelea appear to have settled on the Cumberland, driven thither probably by the Iroquois, and to have given it the name it bears in Coxe's map (1741), Ouesperie, a corruption of Mosopelea. By 1673 they had descended to the Mississippi and established themselves on its western side below the mouth of the Ohio. Later they appear to have stopped for a time among the Quapaw, but before 1686 at least part of them had sought refuge among the Taensa. Their reason for leaving the latter tribe is unknown, but Iberville found them in the historic location above given in 1699. He inserts their name twice, once in the form Ofogoula and once as "Ouispe," probably a corruption of Mosopelea. When their neighbors, the Yazoo and Koroa, joined in the Natchez uprising, the Ofo refused to side with them and went to live with the Tunica, who were French allies, Shortly before 1739 they had settled close to Fort Rosalie, where they remained until after 1758. In 1784 their village was on the western bank of the Mississippi 8 miles above Point Coupee, but nothing more was heard of them until 1908, when I found a single survivor living among the Tunica just out of Marksville, La., and was able to establish their linguistic connections.

Population- In 1700 the Mosopelea are said to have occupied 10-12 cabins, but some years later Le Page du Pratz (1758) gives 60. In 1758 they are reported to have had 15 warriors and in 1784, 12. Connection which they have become noted.- The most noteworthy circumstance connected with this tribe is its romantic history and the recovery of the knowledge of the same.

With French contact limited to one brief meeting, very little is known for certain about the Erie except they were important, and they were there. The Dutch and Swedes also heard about them through their trade with the Susquehannock, but never actually met the Erie. All information about their social and political organization has come from early Jesuit accounts of what they had been told by the Huron. Although questionable because of the lack of first-hand observation, this information seems reasonable enough. The Erie had a large population, several divisions and lived in permanent, stockaded towns. Like other Iroquian peoples in the area, they were an agricultural people. They were traditional enemies of the Iroquois, and there had been many wars between them before the Europeans. The Iroquois, who always mentioned the Erie were great warriors, have verified the long-term hostility, and also add that the Erie frequently used poisoned arrows in war.

In 1615 Étienne Brulé met a group of Erie near Niagara Falls. So far as is known, this was their only encounter with Europeans. At the time the Erie were members of a three-way alliance(Neutrals and Wenro) against the Iroquois. Although it is is not known for certain, it is quite possible some of the Erie were allied with the Susquehannock and supported their wars with Iroquois. In any event, the Erie often traded with the Susquehannock and received European goods from them at an early date. It also appears that the Susquehannock were very careful to insure the Erie did not get any firearms and only a limited supply of metal weapons. Huron and Neutral traders apparently took similar precautions.

The Erie needed beaver for this trade and probably encroached on other tribal territories to get it. The result was a war with an unknown Algonquin enemy in 1635 that forced the Erie to abandon some of their western villages. In 1639 the Erie and Neutrals withdrew their protection from the Wenro leaving them to fend for themselves. The Iroquois attacked, and the Wenro were quickly defeated. Most fled to the Huron and Neutrals, although one Wenro group remained east of the Niagara River and resisted until 1643. The alliance between the Erie and Neutrals continued until 1648, when it ended after the Erie failed to support the Neutrals during a short war with the Iroquois. The failure of this alliance occurred just as the war between the Huron Confederacy and Iroquois League was reaching its final stage, and its timing could hardly have been worse. Huronia was overrun in the winter of 1648-49; the Tionontati met the same fate later that year; and in 1650 the Iroquois turned on the Neutrals. Defeated by 1651, large numbers of Neutral and Huron (several thousand) escaped and fled to the Erie. The Erie accepted these refugees but did not treat them well. Apparently, there were still bad feelings from the break-up of the past alliance. They were allowed to stay in the Erie villages but only in a condition of subjugation.

Meanwhile, the Iroquois League demanded the Erie surrender the refugees, but with hundreds of new warriors, the Erie refused. The dispute simmered for two years of strained diplomacy. The western Iroquois (Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga) continued to view the refugees as a threat and were not willing to let the matter drop. The Erie were just as determined not to be intimidated by Iroquois threats. Their position, however, was becoming precarious, since the Mohawk and Oneida in 1651 had begun a long war against the Susquehannock (Pennsylvania) isolating the Erie from their only possible ally. The violence grew, and an Erie raid into the Seneca homeland killed the Seneca sachem Annencraos in 1653. In an attempt to avoid open warfare, both sides agreed to a peace conference. However, in the course of a heated argument, one of the Erie warriors killed an Onondaga. The enraged Iroquois killed all 30 of the Erie representatives, and after this peace was impossible. Although they had the advantage of firearms, the Iroquois considered the Erie as dangerous opponents, so they took the precaution of first making peace with the French before beginning the war. With their native allies and trading partners either dead or scattered by the Iroquois, the French did not need much encouragement to sign.

Assured the French would not intervene, the western Iroquois attacked and destroyed two Erie fortified villages in 1654. However, the Erie inflicted heavy losses on the Iroquois during these battles. It took the Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga until 1656 before the Erie were defeated. Many survivors were incorporated into the Seneca to replace their losses in the war, and the Erie ceased to exist as a separate tribe. The Erie, however, did not entirely disappear at this time. French map-makers during the next 50 years continued to place the Nation du Chat on their maps as occupying a large area south and west of the Iroquois. Unfortunately, no European explored the Ohio Valley until the 1670s, and they did not find any Erie (or anyone else for that matter). Some of the Erie, Neutrals, Tionontati, and Huron escaped (the Wyandot are the best example). Most of these were small groups, but some may have been fairly large. It took the Iroquois many years to track these people down, and the last group of Erie (southern Pennsylvania) did not surrender to the Iroquois until 1680.

In 1656 an unknown tribe fleeing the Iroquois entered the Virginia Piedmont and settled near the falls of the James River (Richmond). They built a large, fortified village and terrorized the local Powhatan tribes who called them the Ricahecrian. A combined English and Powhatan army went out to expel these intruders but was soundly defeated. However, shortly after this battle the Ricahecrian abandoned their village and disappeared. Ricahecrian is a Virginia Algonquin word that seems to mean "from beyond the mountains." The Powhatan obviously believed that these new enemies had come from west of the Appalachians. They may have been a Siouan tribe or possibly Cherokee, but both of these peoples were familiar to the Powhatan. The Shawnee are another possibility, but given a date which coincides with the end of the Erie-Iroquois war, it is very possible they were Erie. Where did the Ricahecrian go afterwards? No answers...just possibilities. They may have moved south and settled among the Iroquian-speaking Meherrin and Tuscarora. Perhaps they continued to South Carolina where, during the 1670s, they may have been the Westo, another mystery tribe. Little is known about the Westo except they lived in a large, fortified village and were alien to the Carolina tidewater. Greatly feared by the resident Siouan tribes, the English were told the Westo were cannibals. The colonists eventually armed the Shawnee (another new arrival) who destroyed them in 1680.

Of course, they could just as easily gone north, or the Ricahecrian may not have been Erie in the first place. Other than the final Erie surrender in 1680, only one other identifiable mention occurred after 1656. In 1662 the Susquehannock told the Dutch they expected 800 Honniasont warriors to join them in their war with the Iroquois. Honniasont is a Iroquian word meaning "wearing something around the neck" and refers to the Black Mingua habit of wearing a black badge on their chests. The Honniasont (Black Mingua) are believed to have been a division of the Erie that lived around the upper Ohio River in western Pennsylvania. 800 warriors would require a population in excess of 3,000 and may have been an exaggeration (Susquehannock or Dutch). It does, however, indicate that there was a large group still free in 1662, but they were gone by 1679. Many of the descendents of the Erie that were adopted by the Seneca began leaving the Iroquois homeland during the 1720s and returned to Ohio. Known as the Mingo (Ohio Iroquois), they were removed to the Indian Territory during the 1840s. It is very likely that many of the Seneca in Oklahoma today have Erie ancestors.

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