Native Americans barely get recognized for how much they helped us during the battle for independence. Yes, most of them did help the British, but the few that were on our side made a huge impact.
The Oneida Indian tribe helped us Patriots a great deal. Having displayed exemplary bravery during the Oriskany and Saratoga battles, they are now known as the “First Allies.”
On August 6, 1777, the Pennsylvania Journal described one Oneida Indian, han Yerry, who fought during the Oriskany battle, as:
“… a friendly Indian, with his wife and son, who distinguished themselves remarkably on that occasion. The Indian killed nine of the enemy, when, having received a ball through his wrist that disabled him from using his gun, fought with his tomahawk. His son killed two and his wife, on horseback, fought by his side with pistols during the whole action.”
Tyonajanegen, Han Yerry’s wife, notified other colonists about the battle at Oriskany, after having fought during the whole six hour battle.
Shenendoah prevented a massacre of the settlers in , German Flatsby encouraging the Oneida Indians to join our side. They then saved the settlers. This gave Shenendoah the name of, “white man’s friend.”
At Valley Forge when General George Washington’s army was suffering of disease and starvation, Polly Cooper, an Oneida woman, gave them hope that they literally lived off. She walked several hundred miles, with a few other Oneidas, from her home in New York to the camp site to give them food. Cooper taught the men how to cook the special type of corn she had brought, and when they tried to eat it raw, she stopped them, knowing it would bring more disease to their already illness-ridden camp.
The US Congress has recognized the Oneida’s contributions to the war, by stating:
“We have experienced your love, strong as the oak, and your fidelity, unchangeable as truth. You have kept fast hold of the ancient covenant-chain, and preserved it free from rust and decay, and bright as silver. Like brave men, for glory you despised danger; you stood forth, in the cause of your friends, and ventured your lives in our battles. While the sun and moon continue to give light to the world, we shall love and respect you. As our trusty friends, we shall protect you; and shall at all times consider your welfare as our own.”
The Oneida Indians have signed two treaties with the patriots. The Veteran’s Treaty recognized their contributions to our freedom. The Canandaigua treaty gave the Oneida rights to keep their way of life, including their own government, and rights to their own land.