The Tuscarora Indian Nation had experienced great misfortune. They were Iroquoian-language speakers, but had settled in North Carolina well before the arrival of Europeans. They were driven out of the state in 1713 following various conflicts with Southern tribes and the colonies of North and South Carolina, and returned to their ancestral home of New York State early in the 18th Century. They were sponsored by the Oneida Nation, with which they had close ties, and entered the Iroquois Confederation as the Sixth Nation. They never had full voting rights in the Confederation, but had full protection of the Iroquois. The Oneidas, always a small nation, shared their traditional lands with the Tuscaroras.
During the American Revolution, the Tuscaroras supported their brothers, the Oneidas. They were always a small tribe, and at the peak of their strength in 1736 they numbered about two hundred warriors. During the Revolution their strength would have been considerably less than this. Tuscaroras are known to have fought with the Oneida contingent at Saratoga in September and October, 1777 and they played an important role in winning the outpost war between the Battles of Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights. Almost certainly Tuscaroras fought with the Oneidas at Oriskany, provided scouting and guides during Sullivan’s Expedition of 1779, and fought with the Oneidas and Patriots defending their homes and territories in the Mohawk Valley against Loyalist and Native American raids.
Following the war, like the Oneidas and Mohicans that also fought for the United States, they lost their lands and were cheated and abused by the nation that they had fought for. Our nation’s treatment, and the record of New York State, toward our allies the Tuscaroras, Oneidas and Mohicans makes my blood boil. Today, they have a small reservation in Niagara County of New York. The Tuscaroras are a small nation today, the Tuscarora Nation of New York only has about 1,000 members. Sadly enough, I have little specific evidence of the service of the Tuscarora Nation on behalf of our nation, they are almost always simply lumped in (or confused historically) with the Oneida Nation. If anybody out there has some more information on the specific contributions of the Tuscarora Nation in the American Revolution, I would be very interested in receiving copies or references.
For further reading on the actions of the Tuscarora warriors at Saratoga, refer to my article: Douglas R. Cubbison, “Petit Guerre: Saratoga’s Small War” Patriots of the American Revolution 4:5 (September/October 2011), 1-6.