My quest has ended. I have finally seen the historic Oneida Indian Nation Stone! I extend my heartfelt and sincere thanks to the Oneida Indian Nation, who contacted me about the Stone and allowed me to see it. I am truly honored! It is always so thrilling to tangibly encounter history like this.
The Oneida Stone now rests on the Oneida Indian Nation land, that 32-acre tract of land south of Oneida, NY. It has been quiet the New York Traveler, as well! It has been located in various Oneida Indian camps since the Oneidas first settled in this area (400+ years ago), was given to White Men for safekeeping in 1849 and rested on a granite pediment in Utica, NY, for many decades; and then was deemed back to the Oneida Nation in the 1970s, when the tribe began to express interest in returning to their ancestral lands. (My statements are a VERY condensed version of a tangled, detailed history of the Oneidas and of New York State!).
I first became interested in the Oneida Stone after seeing the Skenandoah Boulder outside the city limits of Oneida Castle, NY. My kids and I have a great interest in Skenandoah, because we have a great interest in early American history, of Alexander Hamilton and Reverend Samuel Kirkland, of Chief Skenandoah of the Oneida Indians, and how their histories (and ours) is entwined. As I researched the Skenandoah Boulder, I learned about the great Chief Skenandoah himself, how he became a Christian under the ministry of missionary Samuel Kirkland (who founded Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, and is buried there beside Skenandoah); and how Skenandoah rallied his people to support the Americans against the British in the Revolutionary War. The Oneidas were the only Iroquois tribe to join us, so it was with great sacrifice that the Oneidas fought beside us.
After the Revolution, the Oneidas were promised that a large tract of land in Central New York State– the land of their ancestors– was solely theirs, and the State could not claim it. Unfortunately, the Oneidas dwindled in numbers, and New York State (starting in the late 1700s but especially in the 1800s) began to bamboozle and litigate the Oneidas out of their lands. This problem remains with us today: WHO owns that land? It’s still in the courts, I believe. So all the things from 250 years ago are still as relevant today as they were then.
Well, back to the Oneida Stone. I did extensive research on the history of this very odd stone– it’s not native to Central New York and the Oneidas say the stone “moved” as the Oneidas moved from camp to camp. This is why the Oneidas are called “People of the Turning Stone,” and it’s where the Turning Stone Casino in Vernon, NY, (owned and run by the Oneida Indian Nation) gets its name.
So the Oneida Stone, that ancient stone that the Oneidas revered as sacred, has seen a lot of action, both on Indian land and White Man’s land. The history is riveting. I’ve tried my best to condense it and provide photos of all the places I’ve been. You can click the links for more about the Oneida Nation, the Oneida Stone, the Skenandoah Boulder, Samuel Kirkland, and Hamilton College.
Hamilton College Cemetery, Clinton, NY
Hamilton, Smith, and the Turning Stone Casino
People of the Standing Stone: The Skenandoah Boulder in Oneida
The Shako:wi Oneida Indian Cultural Center
Return to Shako:wi, and Where’s the Stone?
Playing Detective for the Oneida Stone
Oneida Indian Settlement, Nichols Pond, in Smithfield
Forest Hill Cemetery, Utica, NY
The Oneida Stone and Things Worth Knowing About Oneida County