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Iroquois Population Update
ęby Doug George-Kanentiio, 1/5/2015

As much of the world enters the year 2015 it is time to assess the current Iroquois population and land area.  On second thought, we might consider this the year 873 AS since it has been that long when Skennenrahowi formally established the Rotinosionni (Haudenosaunee in Seneca) Confederacy on the southern shore of Onondaga Lake during corn harvesting time and beneath a total eclipse of the sun. That would be on August 31, in 1142 ACE (or the old AD) at 2 PM.

There was a time when the Iroquois numbered in the tens of thousands (perhaps as many as a quarter million) in total population before European contact.  This would have included the "St. Lawrence" Iroquois as well as those who lived in that region south of Lake Ontario, east of the Niagara River, west of the Lake Champlain-Hudson River corridor and north of the Susquehanna. Of those people we may include not only the original members of the Confederacy but those who were Iroquois in language and culture; the Wenrohronon (Wenro), Attawantaron (Neutral), Tionontati (Tobacco or Petun) and Erie (Panther Nation) and subsequently absorbed by the Rotinosionni.

Together their communities consisted of inhabitants ranging in population from several hundred to many thousands.  There was no place within the ancestral lands of the Iroquois which were not known or used either as cultivated areas or as hunting and forest preserves. All current counties in Ontario, Quebec,New York and Pennsylvania have hard physical evidence of a dynamic Iroquois presence before and after contact.

By the late 16th and throughout the 17th centuries there was a dramatic decrease in the Iroquois population caused by warfare, territorial displacement and diseases brought by the Europeans. Serious declines continued into the 18th and the early decades of the 19th centuries until there were less than 10,000 Iroquois by the year 1800.

At Akwesasne the theft of Mohawk lands by the US and New York State contributed to the decline in the number of Mohawks as the community was confined to the fraudulent "Seven Nations of Canada" reservation (recently affirmed by the St. Regis Tribal Council) which meant the community could not hunt in their ancestral grounds nor could they fish along the region's rivers. Cycles of starvation and epidemics swept through Akwesasne with the last occuring just after 1900 (but excluding the current wave of diabetes, heart disease and cancers).

Across the continent it was assumed that by the mid-decade of the 20th century Native people would have become extinct hence the popular use of the term the "Vanishing American". This was not unreasonable given that the Native population in North America was estimated to be anywhere from 10-18 million in 1492 reduced to 248,253 by 1900 of which only 6,044 lived in New York State.

The determination of the Iroquois, among many other native nations, to endure defied the political, religious and cultural trends at that time. The flicker of a distinct Iroquois identity grew to a bonfire of activism by the 1920's which in turn led directly to the expansion in the size of Iroquois families. It is simple: people with hope have more children. Based upon the belief that the Iroquois did have something to live for our population naturally rebounded. Self determination and political activism does have tangible political, economic, social and progenerative effects on most peoples as evidenced by the Iroquois.

As of this year, according to the latest Canadian and American census there are 105,597 enrolled Iroquois in New York, Ontario, Quebec, Oklahoma, Alberta and Wisconsin.   Here is how it breaks down:


In Canada there are 67,624 Iroquois:

Of that number 5,977 are from the Oneidas of the Thames

2,411 are from Kanesatake

10,653 from Kahnawake

776 from Wahta

9,295 from Tyendinaga

25,660 from Ohsweken

12,102 from Akwesasne

750 from the Michel's Band of Iroquois in Alberta


In the US there are 37,968:

2,412 from Cattaraugus

1,473 from Onondaga

693 from Tonawanda

1,152 from Tuscarora

1,020 from Allegany

1,100 from Oneida

3,288 from the "US" side of Akwesasne

21,321 from Oneida, Wisconsin

5,059 from the Seneca/Cayuga of Oklahoma

450 Cayugas at Cattaraugus


In New York State over 221,000 individuals self identified as Natives with over 111,000 in New York City which now has the largest Native urban population in North America. According to the US Census of 2010 there were 81,002 individuals who self identified as Iroquois with the Bureau of Indians Affairs listing 40,570 registered and a total of 47,564 as claimants. No explanation was given as to the discrepancies between the three totals: 37,968: 40,570 and 47,564.

I used only those numbers which were given by the Native nations to the US  and Canadian census. Part of the numerical differences may be accounted for by the refusal of some Native nations to take part in either census. At Akwesasne there is a blending of enrollment across the border (which may inflate the total tabulation) while Ganienkeh's numbers are within the Akwesasne, Kahnawake and Tyendinaga numbers.The Rotinosionni Confederacy has not participated or endorsed the US or Canadian census.

Anyone is free to cite the above (and thereby avoid a lot of research) providing they do the honourable thing and cite my work as their source.


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