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The Americas

North American Native Tribes


Susquehannock (North American Tribes)
Incorporating the Akhrakouaeronon, Akwinoshioni, Andaste, Andastoerrhonon, Atquanachuke, Carantouan, Conestoga, Kaiquariegahaga, Kanastoge, Minqua, Ohongeoquena, Onojutta-Haga, Scahentoarrhonon, Sconondihago, Seosquacke, Takoulguehronon, Tehaque, Tehotitachsae, Unquehiett, & Usququhaga

Generally speaking, the European settlers in North America coined the phrase 'Indian' or 'Red Indian' to describe the North American tribes they found while they were settling what is now the USA. To the north of this vast collection of varying regions and climates were the native settlements of what is now Canada, while to the south were the various peoples of modern Mexico, most especially the Aztecs. The Susquehannock were located along the Susquehanna River and its branches, from the northern end of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland across Pennsylvania and into southern New York state. Their neighbours included the various branches of the Iroquois to the north, the Delaware to the east, the Conoy to the south, and the Erie to the west.

The Susquehannock (also referred to as Susquehanna) spoke Iroquoian, which was reputedly close to Huron. Their tribal name appears to have been an Algonquin word which meant 'people of the Muddy River' (or 'Susquehanna'). The settlers of the French Colonies called them Andaste, from their Huron name, Andastoerrhonon. The settlers of the Dutch Colonies and Swedish Colonies used the Delaware name of 'Minqua', meaning 'stealthy' or 'treacherous'. Variations of these were: Andastaka, Andasto, Atrakwer, Black Minqua, Gandatogué, Mengwe (seemingly more of a Nottoway name), Menquay, Mincku, and Minquaes (not to be confused with the Mingo, Maqua, or Maquaes of the Mohawk). The English of the British Colonies in Virginia and Maryland called them the Susquehannock, but Pennsylvanians during the 1700s preferred to use 'Conestoga' (or its alternative spelling, Kanastoge), which derived from 'Kanastoge' (meaning the 'place of the immersed pole'), the name of their last village in Pennsylvania. The Powhatan in northern Virginia may have called them the Bocootawwonaukes or Pocoughtronack, groups which may have been Susquehannock but whose precise identity is uncertain.

The Susquehannock themselves perhaps have one of the most fascinating stories about their pre-Columbian status. It relates to a story given by the Piscataway tribe in 1660 which stated that, around the middle of the thirteenth century, a king came to them from the eastern shore and subsequently ruled over all of the natives who now inhabited the Algonquian-speaking lands of eastern Virginia. The story also said that this king ruled over the Patawomeck and Susquehannock, forming a kind of empire which endured through several generations of his successors. The formation of the Powhatan confederacy must have hurt them greatly, but there are still signs of the empire's survival at the start of the seventeenth century.

CompendiumWith or without this 'empire', the Susquehannock were once much bigger and more powerful than during much of the colonial period but their story is a sad one of ever-expanding warfare thanks to a colonist-supplied arms race and then near-total extinction to colonist disease and colonist attacks. Remarked upon as being tall, aggressive, and keen of mind, in 1600, there were between 5,000 to 7,000 Susquehannock in at least five tribal groups. By 1700 there were only three hundred Susquehannock. Their rapid decline continued until the last twenty were massacred by a mob of colonists in 1763. There are, however, known descendents amongst the Iroquois and Delaware. The famous Oneida sachem during the American Revolution, Skenandoa, was of Susquehannock descent as was Logan, a Mingo chief in Ohio. Some Susquehannock are believed to have joined the Meherrin (North Carolina) during the 1670s. A proportion of Meherrin were later absorbed by the Tuscarora and migrated as a part of them to New York in 1722. Currently, there should be Susquehannock blood among the members of the Delaware, Tuscarora, Oneida, and Oklahoma Seneca. (More information about the Susquehannock is available via the compendium link, right.)

Seemingly quite normal in the process of expanding and declining tribal groupings, the Susquehannock appear to have been a confederacy of at least five tribes, the Kaiquariegahaga (sometimes shown less correctly as Kaiuariegehaga), Ohongeoquena (or Ohongeoguena, with a second 'g'), Sconondihago, Unquehiett, and Usququhaga. Various even-smaller related tribal groups included the obscure Akhrakouaeronon, Akwinoshioni, Atquanachuke, Carantouan, Onojutta-Haga (or Junita, essentially the same name), Scahentoarrhonon, Seosquacke, Takoulguehronon, Tehaque, and Tehotitachsae. The Carantouan were a poorly-known tribe that were perhaps located between the Seneca and Susquehannock in northern Pennsylvania. Aside from these lesser groups, there were also more than twenty Susquehannock villages, including Attaock, Cepowig, Oscalui, Quadroque, Sasquesahanough, Tesinigh, Utochwig, and Wysox. Unfortunately, the names of many individual tribes and villages have been lost to history, although the Wysox band seem to have transferred to the Munsee.

(Information by Mick Baker, with additional information from Everyday Life of the North American Indian, Jon Manchip White (1979), from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), from The Powhatan Chiefdom: 1606, Old Dominion University Model United Nations Society, and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Legends of America, and Access Genealogy.)


It is around this period that the Susquehannock arrive in the Susquehanna Valley following their migration southwards. They are apparently good friends with the Huron well before the first arrival of any Europeans, and also enemies of the Iroquois. Susquehannock alliances and trade also extend to the Erie and to neutral tribes, with the result that the Iroquois are soon surrounded by hostile tribes.

Susquehanna Valley
The Susquehanna Valley became the focus of Susquehannock settlement from around the middle of the twelfth century, well before any Europeans had reached the Americas on a permanent basis


According to the testimony of the Piscataway tribe as given in 1660, around the middle of the thirteenth century there comes a king from the eastern shore who rules over all of the natives who now inhabit the Algonquian-speaking lands of eastern Virginia, and also over the Patawomeck and Susquehannock (around the early 1600s it is Debedeavon who is the leader of the eastern shore tribes under the domination of the Powhatan confederacy).

FeatureFor all that he does to embrace and cover them all, they name him Uttapoingassinem. Dying without issue of his own, he appoints his brother to succeed him. The title subsequently descends through several other members of the family, all of whom remain unnamed. Is Uttapoingassinem's arrival and elevation a story of conquest, or simple superiority by one Algonquin tribe over the others? (The question is examined in more detail in the accompanying feature - see link, right.)

The emperors are known as jan jan wizous, which in the Algonquian language signifies a true king. Their title is translated into the native Algonquian as tayac, the northern Algonquian equivalent to weroance. Their people will not refer to them as tawzin, which is the style they give to the sons of their kings, princes who will never rule themselves as they are inferior to the sons of brothers or sisters (essentially a by-product of matrilineal succession).

c.1530s - 1550

The first chief of a new confederacy along the eastern seaboard is driven north to the Virginia area by Spanish colonists in Florida and surrounding regions. Once there, he takes over control of at least five other Indian tribes in Virginia.

Upon his death his son, the young Chief Wahunsenacawh, inherits the duty of ruling over the six communities. He gradually expands his rule to cover more than thirty groups that includes a generous estimate of 15,000 people, although a more conservative calculation based on primary sources would indicate the total to be nearer 8,500.

Map of the Susquehannock AD 1600
The Susquehannock territories were centred around the river which bore their name, but extended far to the east, towards Lake Erie where they abutted the generally peaceful Erie people and north to the Iroquois nations, who certainly were not peaceful (click or tap on map to view full sized)

One potential issue with the creation of the Powhatan confederacy is the speed with which it is formed. Could this take place largely by the first two powhatans taking over the domination of many Alqonquian-speaking tribes from the Piscataway emperor simply by showing greater strength and power? By the time the European colonists have arrived to document native politics, the 'emperor' has influence only over a few tribes on the northern edge of the Powhatan confederacy.

1550 - 1608

MapThe earliest village sites that can be are identified as Susquehannock are located on the upper Susquehanna River. Between roughly 1550 and 1600, the Susquehannock inflict a major defeat upon the Mohawk. In the middle of this period, around 1570-1608, the Susquehannock are also involved in a series of wars with the Iroquois (which must somehow be connected to their battles against the Iroquois-linked Mohawk). The Susquehannock are forced south into the lower Susquehanna Valley. Hardened by years of constant warfare, they overwhelm the Eastern Algonquian tribes along the shores of Chesapeake Bay and begin extending their control southwards. Various tribes are terrorised by the Susquehannock, including the Conoy, Nanticoke, and Powhatan living on Chesapeake Bay and numerous small tribes, sub-tribes, and clans or bands, few of whom can be reliably identified through oral records.

1608 - 1633

Exploring the northern edge of Chesapeake Bay in 1608, Captain John Smith of the British Colonies meets the Susquehannock for the first time, while they are still numerous to be able to boast of a population of up to 7,000 in at least five tribal groups. He is especially impressed with their size, deep voices, and the variety of their weapons. Their height must indeed be exceptional, because the Swedes also comment on it thirty years later.

Susquehannock warriors
Their height and deep voices, plus the variety of Susquehannock weapons, made a deep impression on the early Europeans who met them, notably John Smith in 1608 and the first Swedish settlers a generation later

The Alqonquian-speaking Powhatan also know the Susquehannock (whom they call cannibals) from painful experience. When the English first settle Virginia, they discover that the Powhatan have placed their villages well inland to protect them from Susquehannock war parties who range the coastline in canoes. While the Doeg (Tauxenent) and Piscataway may or may not be part of the Powhatan confederacy they are at least not antagonistic towards it. The Susquehannock and their allies wage an almost constant war against the Algonquian tribes in the area.


The Susquehannock attack the Patawomeck villages in northern Virginia despite the additional protection being provided by the settlements of the British Colonies.

1614 - 1618

Once the Mahican-Mohawk truce has been put in place, the Dutch build Fort Nassau on Castle Island in 1614, just south of modern Albany. The Dutch traders are inclined to favour the Mahican in these conflicts, but they have also ingratiated themselves with the Mohawk by arming them against the Munsee and Susquehannock during 1615. This gives the Dutch enough influence to allow them to negotiate another truce between the Mohawk and Mahican in 1618.


From the New France settlement at Quebec on the St Lawrence River, Étienne Brulé discovers that the Susquehannock are more than willing to ally themselves to the French and Huron in their war against the Iroquois league. Friendly relations with the Susquehannock are particularly valuable to the French, not only for the purposes of trade, but because they serve to trap the Iroquois between two powerful enemies.

Unfortunately, the new alliance alarms the New Netherland traders on the Hudson River, and they actively support the Mohawk against the Susquehannock. Although they are relatively few in number and are isolated by their inland location, the Susquehannock manage to become an important trading partner with all of the competing European powers - an achievement unmatched by any other tribe.

The initial French settlement of Charlesbourg-Royal survived for just two years and was abandoned twice even in that period - a much more suitable settlement quickly replaced it

1624 - 1630

Handicapped by their inland location, the Iroquois still have to contend with the powerful Mahican confederacy in order to trade with New Netherland, and it takes four years of war between 1624-1628 before the Mohawk emerge as the pre-eminent trading partner of the Dutch in the Hudson Valley. In that time the settlers of the British Colonies defeat the Powhatan (in 1625), the only Eastern Algonquin confederacy that had been strong enough challenge the Susquehannock.

The Susquehannock, however, have an easier time against the numerous - but peaceful and disorganised - Delaware tribes who trade with the Dutch along the lower Delaware. The Susquehannock are freed up by the English defeat of the Powhatan in 1625, so now the Delaware - and also the Dutch - are attacked by the Susquehannock from the Susquehanna Valley to the west. Long-time enemies of the Iroquois, the Susquehannock not only seek better access to the Dutch but are concerned that, if the Mohawk defeat the Mahican, they will also seize the Delaware Valley. There have long been wars between the Delaware and Susquehannock, but the sheer numbers of Lenape (three to one) has always been enough to keep the highly-organised Susquehannock at bay.

Now the Susquehannock expansion is so forceful that in 1628 the Conoy and Patuxenet on the western shore of the Chesapeake are forced to ally themselves to the English in Virginia in order to remain. This alliance is never tested, since the Susquehannock usually leave the residents alone as long as they do not challenge their right to hunt when and where they please. The English in Virginia soon grow interested in the fur trade with the Susquehannock. By 1630, the Susquehannock force many of them either south into Delaware or across the river into New Jersey while, by 1630, the Dutch have also been pleased to discover that the Susquehannock (skilled hunters and trappers) have more (and better) furs than the Delaware.

1630 - 1644

The Susquehannock wage a relentless war against the southern tribes of the Yaomacos, Piscataway and Patuxent. This conflict creates a great deal of trouble for Governor Calvert and the colonists, causing the Susquehannock to be proclaimed public enemies (see 1642, below).


William Claiborne establishes a trading post on Kent Island in upper Chesapeake Bay. The Susquehannock by this time are able to trade with the New French to the north (through the Huron), the New Netherland settlers on Delaware Bay, and the British Colony in Virginia.


English Catholics of the British Colonies begin to settle in Maryland, causing increased strains in the existing trade agreements with the English who are already there. The Conoy and Patuxenet welcome the new colonists, and a Jesuit mission is opened in their village at Piscataway. The reaction of the Susquehannock is not nearly as friendly, especially when settlements begin to creep steadily up the western side of Chesapeake Bay from Fort St George on the St Mary's River. A mutual desire to trade keeps the English and Susquehannock from open warfare for a while, but steady encroachment eventually leads to a series of incidents and confrontations, including wars with the Conoy and Wicomese.


The first wave of Swedish and Finnish settlers arrive under the leadership of Peter Minuit (former director-general of New Netherland). They create New Sweden when they settle land on the lower Delaware (claimed by the Dutch) and build Fort Christina. The land is claimed to have been purchased from the local Delaware and Susquehannock, although they counter the claim with accusations of land theft. By now the Delaware are entirely subject to the Susquehannock and need their permission and two 'Minqua' to be present at the signing of any treaties. The Minqua attend the Swedish land purchase as required.

Fort Christina
Founded by the first settlers of New Sweden, Fort Christina on the lower Delaware was named in honour of Queen Christina of Sweden


FeatureTrading with all four European powers in North America means that the Susquehannock have to source a great deal of fur. They are skilled hunters and trappers, but the huge demand keeps them so busy hunting that they have little time left to continue their war of conquest against the Delaware and Chesapeake Eastern Algonquian tribes (mostly the Conoy, Nanticoke, and Powhatan living on Chesapeake Bay). Over-hunting and increased competition soon result in the Beaver Wars, otherwise known as the Iroquois Wars (see link, right).

In the west, however, it may be different. One can only wonder where and how the Susquehannock are able to obtain so much fur, and it is likely that, as the Susquehannock exhaust the beaver in central and western Pennsylvania, they are forced to look beyond their territory for more. Some is obtained from trade with the Erie and Shawnee, but the remainder probably comes at the expense of encroachment and warfare with unknown tribes in the Ohio Valley.

1642 - 1644

Problems between the colonists and the Susquehannock have increased to such a degree that Governor Calvert of Maryland declares the Susquehannock to be enemies of the colony, to be shot on sight. By 1644, attempts at securing a peaceful resolution have failed, and Susquehannock trade with the English is temporarily halted.

1644 - 1646

The Second Battle of Virginia - sometimes referred to as the start of a Third Anglo-Powhatan War - takes place in 1644, with the native Powhatan confederacy still under Opechancanough. This bookends the First Powhatan War (1622-1644). The result is that the English completely crush the Powhatan and take control of eastern Virginia. Being distracted by this war they have little time to concern themselves with the Susquehannock. Unchallenged, the Susquehannock extend their dominion south from the Susquehanna River to the Potomac River where they claim the area between these two points as hunting territory. They do not ask permission of those tribes that live in this area.

However, in 1645, the Susquehannock end their hostilities with Maryland and sign a treaty that cedes their claims in Maryland between the Choptank and Patuxent rivers. The Susquehannock hardly notice the brief interruption of trade with the English because the settlers of New Sweden have more than made up the difference. The Susquehannock are also able to continue to trade with New Netherland by using the portages between the Susquehanna, Delaware, and Hudson rivers to New Amsterdam.

1647 - 1650

The Iroquois launch massive attacks into the Huron homeland and destroy the Arendaronon villages. Sensing that the situation is becoming serious, Susquehannock warriors fight as Huron allies, while their ambassadors send to the Iroquois council flatly demanding a halt to the war. In 1648 New France's Governor Louis d'Ailleboust de Coulonge also strives to prevent the Iroquois massacre of the Huron people, which is partially in retribution for the latter becoming allied to the French. The attempts fail, and in the winter of 1648-1649, for some inexplicable reason, the Huron refuse further offers of help from the Susquehannock and are overrun by the Iroquois. Only small numbers of Huron survive the massacre.

1650 - 1656

Again at the hands of the increasingly militaristic and aggressive Iroquois, in 1650 the Tionontati meet a similar fate to that of the Huron. As the Iroquois absorb thousands of captured warriors into their ranks, the Susquehannock now see that they themselves are in grave danger. When the western Iroquois (the Cayuga, Onondaga, and Seneca) attack the Neutrals, the Susquehannock enter the war against the Iroquois.

Whatever help they may be able to give to the Neutrals is cut short when the Mohawk attack the Susquehannock villages. With the Susquehannock unable, and the Erie unwilling to help, the Neutrals are quickly defeated. The Mohawk, however, find the well-armed Susquehannock a dangerous and stubborn foe, and even more so when the Susquehannock call in their Lenape and Munsee allies. The war drags on until 1656 with the Mohawk (at great cost to themselves) slowly pushing the Susquehannock down the eastern branch of the Susquehanna River. The Susquehannock suddenly find themselves alone. New France is powerless to help after Iroquois victories over the Huron and Neutrals, and the Erie soon face their own war of survival against the western Iroquois (during 1653-1656).

Dutch traders
Although the Dutch colonial administration initially pursued a policy of not arming the natives with ammunition and guns, the realities of the Beaver Wars eventually made them realise that there was no other option

In 1651, hard pressed by the Mohawk, the Susquehannock try to strengthen their ties to New Netherland by selling them some land on the Delaware River, but the Dutch remain neutral. New Sweden continues to supply them with anything they want, but the Susquehannock have become involved in fighting with Virginian Puritans that had settled in northern Maryland in 1649. The following year, not able to fight two wars at the same time, the Susquehannock sign a treaty with the British Colony of Maryland, ceding much of the lower Susquehanna Valley to secure peace and trade with the English. This they do via several chiefs as shown below:

fl 1652


Susquehannock chief. Signatory of the 1650 treaty.

fl 1652


Susquehannock chief. Signatory of the 1650 treaty.

fl 1652


Susquehannock chief. Signatory of the 1650 treaty.

fl 1652


Susquehannock chief. Signatory of the 1650 treaty.

fl 1652


Susquehannock chief. Signatory of the 1650 treaty.


Smallpox hits the Susquehannock villages, but this affects the Mohawk just as much as it does the Susquehannock and slows down the fighting. In September of the following year, the Dutch seize New Sweden. Without their primary supplier, the Susquehannock are forced to sue for peace with the Mohawk and in 1656 the equally exhausted Mohawk agree.

The Mohawk and their Oneida allies never fight the Susquehannock again, but peace with them does not extend to the rest of the Iroquois league. After finishing with the Erie, the western Iroquois turn their attention to their only remaining Iroquoian-speaking enemy. Besides the fact that the Susquehannock have aided the Neutrals, there is continuing aggravation since the Susquehannock had also given refuge to small groups of Neutrals and Erie that had eluded them.


War finally erupts, having simmered just beneath the surface. Badly outnumbered, the Susquehannock draw their Shawnee trading partners into the fighting and enlist the support of their tributary Eastern Algonquian and Siouan tribes (the Conoy, Delaware, Nanticoke, Saponi, and Tutelo). The Iroquois first attack the Susquehannock allies, and disperse the Shawnee, scattering them to Illinois, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

Iroquois warriors rest outside a British fort
The Iroquois were the staunchest opponent of the Susquehannock - two strong tribal groupings vying for supremacy in the same general area, and one side had to lose

1660 - 1664

The Iroquois strike the Delaware throughout the Delaware Valley and throughout the 1660s, effectively taking them out of the war. For the Susquehannock, the worst blow is a smallpox epidemic that strikes in 1661. Their population is devastated to a point from which it never recovers. They nevertheless manage to hold on. A treaty is signed between them, the Passyunk Lenape, and the British Colony of Maryland, ending the lingering hostility with the English. The agreement provides firearms and ammunition, since the Maryland colonists are well aware of the value of the Susquehannock as a buffer against the New Netherland-allied Iroquois.

In 1663, with English help, the Susquehannock are able to turn back a major Iroquois invasion. On 28 July, Chief Civility is gifted two barrels of powder, two hundred pounds of lead, and the choice of one of two small cannon. In the following year the English take New York from the Dutch, and shortly afterwards form their own alliance with the Iroquois.

fl 1663 - 1720s


Susquehannock chief. Outlived Queen Conguegoes.


Maryland does not feel entirely assured by the English alliance with the Iroquois and renews its treaty with the Susquehannock. Several Susquehannock chiefs attend the treaty talks of 29 June 1666 at St Johns:

fl 1666


Of the great Torripine family (Terrapin).

fl 1666


Of the Wolf family.

fl 1666


Of the Ohongeoquena nation.

fl 1666


Of the Unquehiett nation.

fl 1666


Of the Kaiquariegahaga nation.

fl 1666


Of the Usququhaga nation.

fl 1666

Waddon Hago

Of the Sconondihago nation.

fl 1666

Wastahanda Hariguera

Of the Terrapin or Turtle clan.

fl 1666


Of the Fox clan.

fl 1666

Andre Sonque

Name appears with no mention of clan affiliation.

Of these chiefs, Wastahanda Hariguera and Gosweinquecrakqua are responsible for bringing Wanahedana to justice by handing him over to the English, 'lest the crime of one be imputed to the whole tribe'. Wanahedana is the Native American who had murdered colonists at a mill in Baltimore County in 1664. They ask for assistance from the governor at the time as they had lost many warriors against the Seneca. The Susquehannock are convinced that the Seneca are planning a raid upon the English so they agree to deliver Wanahedana, the 'King of Potomack and his two sonnes', to Major Goldsmyth.

1666 - 1669

The year 1667 coincides with another outbreak of smallpox, so the Iroquois make peace with New France and their native allies and this allows them to concentrate on their war with the Susquehannock. With the support of the British Colony of Maryland, the Susquehannock fight on in an increasingly bitter struggle, but by autumn 1669 they are down to only three hundred warriors and are forced to ask the Iroquois for peace. The Iroquois response to their offer is to torture and kill the Susquehannock ambassador who delivers it.

Maryland Susquehannock sign
The Penn-Calvert boundary dispute involved William Penn and Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore who disagreed about early borders, with Penn wanting Pennsylvania to have access to Chesapeake Bay


The Iroquois finally defeat the Susquehannock. Driven from Pennsylvania, the survivors settle on the upper Potomac River at the invitation of the governor of the British Colony of Maryland, although in reality there is no refuge for them. The location may be acceptable to a royal governor, but it is deeply resented by the local colonists. After several depredations (probably by Iroquois), a thousand-man 'army' that is little more than an armed mob assembles under Colonel John Washington (great-grandfather of George Washington).

In direct defiance of the orders of Virginia's governor, Washington's militia besieges the Susquehannock in an old fort on the Potomac River, which they had occupied to defend themselves against the Iroquois. Eventually the Susquehannock are able to assure the colonists that they are peaceful and even offer six of their sachems as hostages as proof. Satisfied, the colonists take the hostages and leave, but on the way home they learn of other attacks in the area and they kill the hostages.

The Susquehannock abandon the fort, but launch a series of retaliatory raids on the Virginia and Maryland frontier. Most of the blame for these raids falls on the Virginians' Pamunkey and Occaneeche allies and leads to their near annihilation by the colonists during Bacon's Rebellion the following year. Afterwards, the Susquehannock move north but are attacked by Maryland militia near Columbia, Maryland, where many are killed. Some manage to reach safety with the Meherrin in North Carolina.


The remaining Susquehannock have little choice but to surrender to the Iroquois. Considering the circumstances, they are treated well. Under the terms of the agreed peace, the Susquehannock are resettled amongst the Mohawk and Oneida, becoming members of the Iroquois 'covenant chain' (a series of alliances and treaties developed during the seventeenth century, primarily between the Iroquois confederacy and the British Colonies, with other Native American tribes added). Their dominion over the Delaware and other former allies is also surrendered to the league. During the following years, several Susquehannock rise to leadership as Iroquois war chiefs. Although treated with respect, the Susquehannock are not free.


William Penn attempts to sign a treaty with the Susquehannock, only to learn that they (like the Delaware) first need Iroquois approval. Subsequent dealings by the Pennsylvania government of the British Colonies concentrates on the Iroquois and ignores the subservient tribes.


The Iroquois relent somewhat and allow three hundred Susquehannock to return to the Susquehanna Valley in Pennsylvania. No longer a powerful people, they become known as the Conestoga (from the name of their village). The Iroquois keep a watchful eye on them and use their homeland as a kind of supervised reservation for the displaced Eastern Algonquian and Siouan tribes (including the Conoy, Delaware, Mahican, Munsee, Nanticoke, Saponi, Shawnee, Tutelo, and also the New England Algonquin), who are allowed to settle there as members of the 'covenant chain'. Quaker missionaries arrive and make many conversions amongst the Susquehannock. As Conestoga becomes a Christian village, the more traditional Susquehannock leave - either returning to the Oneida in New York, or moving west to Ohio to join the Mingo where they lose their individual identity.

? - pre-1714


Susquehannock queen. Died before this year.


From 1720 on, the Mahican begin to move west to join multi-ethnic groups, first with the greatly diminished and weakened Susquehannock and then to the Ohio country. In 1738, the Mahican give missionary John Sergeant permission to start a mission in the village. Eventually, the European inhabitants gave this place the name 'Stockbridge', after a village in England. This is located on the Housatonic River, near a great meadow that is bounded by the beautiful Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. In this mission village, a church and school are built. The Mahican and other native people who have relocated here became known as the 'Stockbridge Indians'.

Delaware Stockbridge
The remnants of a great many tribes of the eastern seaboard congregated as the Stockbridge, Brotherton, and Housatonic, seeking protection amongst numbers - this oil painting is entitled 'Delaware Indians sign the Treaty of Penn', by Benjamin West


There are only twenty members (all Christians) of the last identifiable group of Susquehannock. They are totally peaceful, but atrocities committed by others during the Pontiac uprising of this year (notably the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee) outrage the white settlers in the vicinity who now just want to kill Indians - any Indians - in revenge. The option is open to any of them to grab a rifle and head into the woods to find a suitable victim, but there is an easier target that is closer to hand. As feelings rise, fourteen Conestoga are arrested and placed in the gaol at Lancaster for their own protection. A mob forms (known as the Paxton Boys). Its members proceed to the village at Conestoga, kill the six Susquehannock there, and burn the houses. Then they head to the gaol, break in, take the last fourteen Susquehannock and beat them to death.

Although various descendants still claim a Conestoga heritage from the various remnants that survive the murders in conjunction with those Susquehannock that dwell other tribes, any claim to survival - in a meaningful way - must be regarded as fanciful. To all intents and purposes the Susquehannock are rendered extinct by this brutal act.

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