"Keepers of the Western Door"
The Tonawanda Indian Reservation is located on the west side of the town of Alabama.
It is home to the Seneca Indians, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois. Prior to the
establishment of Genesee County in 1802, the Seneca Indians - "Keepers of the Western
Door" - inhabited a large region of Western New York.
The Big Tree Treaty of 1797 opened the lands west of the Genesee River and allotted
200,000 acres of land for reservations, Tonawanda being 45,509 of those acres. By 1856
the Tonawanda lands had been reduced to 7,547 acres.
Through several treaties, over 100 years, the size of Indian land had deminished in NY
State. The geographic area that the Tonawanda Reservation covers today is as follows:
151 acres in the Town of Royalton in Niagara County; 1,153 1/2 acres in the Town of
Newstead in Erie County; and 5,759 acres in the Town of Alabama in Genesee County.
Explore the links below to learn more about the history of the Seneca Nation of the
Tonawanda Reservation and the Iroquois Confederacy. There are also links to other web
sites on my "Favorite Links" page that deal with history as well as current events of the
Native American Indians. At the bottom of this page you will find a list of suggested reading
material as well.
Cindy Amrhein - Historian, Town of Alabama, NY
The Six Nations,
theClan divisions,
meaning of the
Brief history of the
Iroquois in New York
from 1715 to 1797.
One of the deeds to part of the lands agreed upon
at the 1797 Treaty at Big Tree.
This one is the deed to the Cattaraugus Reservation.
What happened to the
land after the Indian
title was extinguished.
Cemeteries on the
Tonawanda Reservation
(Links at bottom of my
Cemeteries Page),
Tombstone Inscriptions.
Brief history of how the Senecas
retained title to the Reservation,
deed conveying title to the
Tonawanda Indians.
History tidbit on education in
1897, Tonawanda Reservation.
Map showing former school
house locations.
Famous Iroquois
buried at Forest Lawn
Cemetery in Buffalo,
NY. (photos!)
1915 Census for the Tonawanda
Indian Reservation.
Tonawanda Seneca Sachem and
Chief, Union Officer, Grant's
personal secretary
(Produced by PBS and the
Rochester Museum)
Links for genealogy,
history, Native American
Sites, military records
and much more!
THE DEATH AND BIRTH OF THE SENECA by Anthony F. C. Wallace. Copyright 1969, published by Alfred A. Knoff, Inc. (384
pgs.) History and culture of the Iroquois and the visionary Handsome Lake.
WARRIOR IN TWO CAMPS - ELY S. PARKER by William H. Armstrong. Copyright 1978. First paperback edition 1989. Syracuse
University Press. (230 pgs.) The life of Ely S. Parker, Union General, personal secretary to Ulysses S. Grant, first native American to
serve as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and Seneca Chief. (You may purchase this book through the Holland Land Office Museum by
calling (716) 343-4727.)
OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE A Descriptive and Biographical Record of GENESEE COUNTY edited by Safford E. North.
Published by the Boston History Company, 1899. (698 pgs.) The first 80 pages covers a great amount of Iroquois history and the
Holland Purchase. With excerpts from correspondences. You will probably only find this at a local library.
PIONEER HISTORY OF THE HOLLAND PURCHASE by O.A. Turner. published by Geo. H. Derby and Co. 1850. You might only find
this in a local library as well. Howerver I believe some company did reprint it. This contains a great amount of history on the Seneca
Nation as it pertained to the different councils that were held and the transfer of the land. Also excerpts of corospondences.
GENESEE COUNTY SENECAS by Irene A. Beale. Copyright 1992. (120 pgs.) Printed by Chestnut Hill Press. About the Seneca Nation from
the known beginning up until 1992. For more information on purchasing this book write to Chestnut Hill Press, 5320 Groveland Road, Geneseo, NY 14454.
LIBERTY ! The American Revolution by Thomas Fleming. Copyright 1997. Penguin Putnam Inc. (394 pgs.) This history book is a little
more honest about events. Excellent Color Illustrations.
AFTER COLUMBUS The Smithsonian Chronicle of the NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN by Herman J. Viola. Copyright 1990 The
Smithsonian Institution. (278 pgs.) There is not a lot on the Iroquois but it covers all of the American Indians from the arrival of Columbus
to present 1990. It illustrates how history has effected the Indian culture of today. Wonderful photographs as well.
Almost any History Text Book your child brings home from school.
This section of the "Historian's Page - Alabama, NY" is a work in progress and will be added to periodically as time permits. Besides, if I post
everything might not stop back again!
Cindy Amrhein, Historian
"Letter from your Historian" is to inform you what's new at this web site, projects I am working on, etc.
Updated 3/27/2009