A History

By Anthony F. C. Wallace

Subjects: Indigenous Studies, Anthropology, New York/regional, American History
Series: SUNY series, Tribal Worlds: Critical Studies in American Indian Nation Building
Paperback : 9781438444307, 306 pages, January 2013
Hardcover : 9781438444291, 306 pages, December 2012

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Table of contents

Prologue: Living in Historical Time
1. Welcome to Skaru’re
Our Visit in 1948–1949
Fitting In
The Rorschach Project
Recording Tuscarora Texts
2. Tuscarora Fifty Years Later
The Bissell Family
Changes and Persistence
Diversity and Forbearance
Gender Balance
Churches and Spirituality
Work and Play
The World Off the Reserve
3. The Tuscarora in North Carolina: Peace, War, and Exodus
The History Group
First Encounters 1521–1650
The Tuscarora War 1711–1713
Migration and Dispersal
The Communities at Onaquaga and Niagara
4. Policies of Accommodation
The Success of the Family Farm
Christian Missions versus the “Old Religion”
The Temperance Society
Baptist Traditionalism
Voices of Accommodation: Cusick, Johnson, Hewitt
Combining the Best of Both Cultures
5. Ethnostess: Selves Lost and Found
The Concept of Ethnostress
The Denial of Reciprocity
The Reservation Schools at Tuscarora
The Thomas Indian School
Coping with Ethnostress
6. Siege, Resistance, and Renewal
Land Claims and the Doctrine of Discovery
The Reservoir
The Enduring Siege
Voices of Resistance: Clinton Rickard, Ted Williams, Mad Bear
7. Family: Household, Clan, and the Woman’s Line
The Matrilineal Clan
The Paternal Lineage
Marriage and Kinship Terminology
Land and Kinship
Genealogical Records
Blood Quantum
8. Governance: Nation, Community, and Confederacy
The Council of Chiefs
The Business council vs. Traditional Chiefs’ Council
The Meetings of Clans and Clan Mothers
The Haudenosaunee Confederacy
9. Preserving the Cycle of Life
Growing Up Indian
Creation and the Good Mind
The Thanksgiving Address
The Medicines and Spiritual Powers
The Condolence Ceremony
Preserving the Cycle of Life
Epilogue: Saving the Seventh Generation
In Memoriam: A Tribute to My Big Sister
Notes on Sources

The definitive history of the Tuscaroras and their return to western New York.


Tuscarora is the comprehensive history of the small Iroquois Indian reservation community just north of Niagara Falls in western New York. The Tuscaroras consider themselves to be a sovereign nation, independent of the United States and the State of New York. They have preserved a system of social organization and ideal public values, along with the Tonawanda Seneca and the Onondagas that retains matrilineal clans, and a Council of Chiefs nominated by the clan matrons. Over the course of their existence, however, the Tuscarora have faced many struggles. Stemming from over sixty years of research, Anthony F. C. Wallace follows their story of overcoming war and loss of population, migration from North Carolina in the 1700s, the emotional trauma and social disorders resulting from discrimination and abusive conditions in residential boarding schools, and successful adaption to urban industrial society. Wallace weaves together historical detail, ethnography, and his own personal reflections to offer a unique and sweeping look at this fascinating group of people.

Anthony F. C. Wallace is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of many books, including The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca.


"This delightful book reads more like a memoir than an ethnographic history, but it is filled with great ethnographic and historical perspectives. Demonstrated in the text is a sense of humility—in essence, Wallace writing candidly about being corrected by community members, including his hosts … overall Wallace adds to the growing aggregate of Haudenosaunee cultural and historical books … Highly recommended." — CHOICE

"…an accessible, insightful, and challenging work that embodies the self-aware, self-critical thinking that now characterizes the discipline of anthropology … Tuscarora: A History is free of illusions, worshipfulness, pity. It's an exercise in, and an exemplar of, 'the good mind.'" — Artvoice