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NATIVE AMERICAN FLAGS

The Seneca of New York

Originally called "Sen Uh Kuh", or the "Great Hill People", the name Seneca devolved from the similarity in sound to the Latin name familiar to the white man's ears. The Seneca were the most powerful of the member tribes in the Iroquois League and served the league as the "guardians of the western door". This term came from the Iroquois' view of their confederacy as a huge long house, their traditional dwelling (ENAT, 215-216). As the westernmost member of the league, it fell upon the Seneca to protect that gateway into the heart of Iroquois land.

During the American revolution, the Seneca, under the leadership of two chiefs, Red Jacket and Cornplanter, sided with the British. After the war, the Seneca remained within the boundaries of the new nation.

During the French & Indian War a young American major they called "Caunotaucarius", or "Town Destroyer" led American troops through the lands of the Seneca, burning villages, destroying all crops and stored foodstuffs, killing many and leaving the rest to starve through the bitter winter of upstate New York. Years later Cornplanter met with "Town Destroyer" and reminded him of his actsd against the Seneca. At that time, the former major had a new job - President of a newly independent nation. 'Town Destroyer" is better known to most people as George Washington.

The Seneca now hold three state recognized reservations in western New York, the Cattaraugus, the Allegheny and the tiny Oil Springs reservations. Over these reservations and the over 6,500 Seneca that associate with the reservations fly flags of the same design.

The flag of the Seneca is white and bears the seal of the tribe in blue with red lettering in the center (sample flag provided by Advertising Flag Co., Chicago, IL). The seal contains maps of the three reservations.

Surrounding the maps are eight animals, the beaver, the deer, a wolf, a bear, a turtle, a hawk, a heron and a snipe. These eight creatures are the totems, or emblems associated with particular Seneca clans (ENAT, 216). For the Seneca, the clan is a group of families all descended from a common ancestor.

Around the seal appear two legends in red. Over the top appears "Seneca Nation of Indians". Along the bottom is their title "Keepers of the Western Door".

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603