Erie Indian Moundbuilders Tribal Nation

Names / Sub-tribes

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


The name is a shortening of "Erielhonan," meaning "long tail." and referring to the panther (cougar or mountain lion). The Erie were also called the "Cat" or the "Racoon" people. 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).

They lived in multi-family long houses in villages enclosed in palisades and grew the Three Sisters - corn, beans, and squash during the warm season. In the winter tribal members lived off the stored crops and animals slaughtered in the hunt. In the competition in the fur trade, the Erie alienated the surrounding tribes by encroaching on their territories. They angered their eastern neighbors, the League of the Iroquois, by accepting refugees from Huron villages that had been destroyed by the Iroquois. The Erie were disadvantaged in armed conflict by having few firearms. From 1664, after a final battle against the Iroquois, the tribe no longer existed as a unit, but dispersed groups survived a few more decades before being absorbed into the Iroquois. Members of other tribes also claimed later to be descended from refugees of this defunct culture. So there are members of the Seneca people in Oklahoma who still claim to be descended from the Erie nation.

The so-called Seneca in Oklahoma are a remnant of the Erie, Neuter, and Conestoga tribes which had fled, after a disastrous war with the Seneca proper, to the Ohio river where they became known as the Seneca of Sandusky and hence are not true Seneca. They were joined later by some Cayuga who had sold their lands in New York, only to cede these holdings to the Government in 1831 and move to Missouri and Kansas. From here, by treaty of 1867, they were removed to what is now Ottawa county, Oklahoma.
(Ohio) The Indian Tribes of North America by John R. Swanton--Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145 -- 1953 (pp. 230-236) LINK

Its claim to present remembrance arises from the adoption of the name for one of the Great Lakes; for an important city in Pennsylvania upon its shores; counties in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; places in Weld County, Colo.; Whiteside County, Ill.; Neosho County, Kans.; Monroe County, Mich.; Cass County, N. Dak.; Loudon County, Tenn.; Erieside in Lake County, Ohio; and Erieville in Madison County, N. Y., and some smaller settlements; also an important railroad.


The Erie are believed to have had many villages and several divisions, but only three names have been preserved:
  1. Kentaientonga (Gentaguehronon, Gentaienton, Gentaguetehronnon)
  2. Honniasont (Black Minqua, Honniasontkeronon, Oniassontke)
  3. Rigué / Rigueacute; (Arrigahaga, Rigueronnon, Rique, Riquehronnon)
  • Arreghaga
  • At(t)iwendaronk = Neutrals
  • Huron
  • Awenrehronon
  • Black Minqua =Honiason
  • Carantouans= Susquchannock
  • Cat nation, Cats, The Cats
  • les Chats
  • Ehrochronnons
  • Ehrichronons
  • Erians
  • Erie Erie'
  • Eriechronons
  • Erriee
  • Erieehronons
  • Eriegonckkak
  • Erie-hronons
  • Eriehronons
  • Eriekronois
  • Erielhronons
  • Eries
  • Eriez
  • Erigas
  • Erigouechkak
  • Erriecronnens
  • Errieronnons
  • Errieronons
  • Eves
  • Ga-qua-ga-o-no
  • Gahkwas
  • Herie Heries
  • Honiasont =Black Minqua
  • Irrironnon(s)
  • Irrironons(s)
  • Kahkwah, Kahquaas, Kakhwas Neutrals
  • Mad-spirits
  • la Nation du Chat(s)
  • N, des Chat(s)
  • Neutrals
  • Pungelika
  • Rhiier
  • Rhiierhonons
  • Rhiierronnons
  • Rhiierronons
  • Rigneronnons
  • Rigue (community name)
  • Riguehronons
  • Rigueronnons
  • Rique
  • Riqueronnons
  • Satans
  • Shaonons
  • Wild Cat Tribe
One clue as to the number of Erie villages came years later, when the Iroquois told the French they had destroyed 19 Kentaientonga villages in the Ohio by 1650.

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