My native heritage story goes back to my great, great, great, great, great grandfather who was Chief Shenandoah. The Shenandoah Valley was named in his honor because, as an Oneida Chief, his was the only tribe that fought on the side of the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Because of their loyalty to the Americans, New York granted the Oneida tribe land in New York that had previously been taken from them. When George Washington and his men were hungry, one of our ancestors, Polly Cooper, went with the warrior volunteers who delivered hundreds of bushels of corn to the starving soldiers. Polly showed them how to cook and fix the corn so it was tasty and soft. Her loyalty and kindness were not forgotten.
I am 1/36th Oneida, which means I cannot be considered a tribal member. Yet, I remain proud of my Native American heritage and have taught my children and grandchildren about their Native royalty bloodline.
November 11 is an important day for the Oneida Indian Nation because it is the anniversary of the Treaty of Canandaigua, considered to be the oldest U.S. international treaty still in effect. Each year, the U.S. Department of Interior recognizes the treaty by giving annuity cloth to the people of the Oneida Indian Nation. The day is one of remembrance that Oneida warriors joined the U.S. soldiers and fought proudly on behalf of the United States in the Battle of Oriskany in 1777.