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Playing Detective for the Oneida Stone

I just got the book, Oneida Iroquois, Folklore, Myth, and History, by Anthony Wonderley, and it is amazing! I blogged about our journey to Oneida Castle to see the mysterious Skenandoah Boulder. I’ve decided to dig a little deeper about the Oneida Stone, apparently a huge stone that mysteriously moved to central New York State eons ago; the Oneidas followed it until it stopped. Some say it was a chunk of rock that was pushed along by a glacier.

The stone was taken from the Oneidas in the 1850s or so, by non-natives who believed the tribe to be ruined. It was like taking a nation’s marker or banner as a sign of conquering them. Really strange. New Yorkers placed the Oneida Stone in one of their cemeteries– Forest Hill in Utica, NY. Some say the stone is no longer there, but there is plaque about the stone.

Doesn’t this all sound so mysterious?? Where did the stone go? Who took it? Who put it in the cemetery, and why? What was the significance of the stone, besides the Oneida calling themselves “the people of the standing stone”? And how could New Yorkers be so cruel as to take away their national emblem, dump it in a cemetery, and then take the Indians land… and get away with it all thee years??

I hope this book explains some of these questions. The history of the Iroquois is steeped in vagueness and puzzlement. I’m planning on taking a trip to Forest Hill cemetery (only about 5 minutes from my home) and looking for this stone plaque. It’s a very historical cemetery– a New York governor is buried there, so I figure I’ll come back with loads of history! Stay tuned!

P.S. If you have a hankering for learning more about the Oneida Indian Nation directly, check out our trip to the Shako:wi Cultural Center in Oneida, NY. A great museum!

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About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (3)

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  1. Karen says:

    That was so interesting. I am intrigued.

  2. I like studying ancient cultures. There is a lot we don’t know about the Indians of North America, because they didn’t write anything down. It’s like an investigation!

  3. Annie Cornelius says:

    My comments are for the general public. Possibly New York Traveler. net has researched to the best of their ability but that does not mean it is thorough. Oneidas went to Wisconsin, and to Ontario, Canada not exactly “leaving” their ancestral lands but rather travelling to the outer edges…to which was considered, our vast hunting grounds. Never, ever, did my ancestors believe that they had left forever nor did they never expect not to return. Our lands and people were in turmoil, and my ancestors chose to remove their families from that for their safety. Only the “governments of New York State, the United States and Ray Halbrieter” consider that any Oneida located away from our ancestral lands in New York is not Oneida. Ray Halbrieter is a self-annointed “chief’ or “Leader” of the people remaining at Oneida, New York and holds no true hereditary title of any sort……ALL those truly hereditary titles travelled with the truly traditional people, northward…to Oneida…north of Lake Erie, outside of what is known as London, Ontario. So please, research some more and find out how greed and the oppression by a self-annointed “leader” has truly affected the people of Oneida presently living at Oneida New York….and find out what happened to those who stood up to Ray and about “his decision” to remove and ban them from the community with his goons. Also, think about this; if he was truly a “leader or chief” of any sort….would he not live with his people, support and cherish all of his people, and be respected by all Oneidas who do not reside in New York state? How can one respect a man who has sold out his people and their hereditary lands for “casino dollars” that only he and a few cronies benefit from? Check out his “true” living quarters…..high on a hill, with gates and guns between the road and he. My, my, my, what a tangled web he weaves. A museum….so he can “justify” employing only his supporters and relatives. What of the others!!!!