The Cayuga Nation is known as "The People of the Great Swamp". Cayugas are one the original five members of the Haudenosaunee "The People of the Longhouse". The Cayuga Nation's homeland is found in the Finger Lakes Region of a territory now called New York. Cayuga Lake and its northern shores were the primary locations of many villages of the Cayuga people. They are said to be found between their two brothers, the Onondaga (to the east) and the Seneca (to the west). The Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, Onieda and Mohawk are the original members of the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois Confederacy). Their way of life was admired by many of the founding fathers of the United States of America. Many goverance principles of the Haudenosaunee were installed into the American form of governance. These principles were given to the Haudenosaunee as gifts from the Peacemaker.
As the American colonists and the British began to war against each other, Cayugas and other members of the Haudenosaunee were caught in the middle of the Revolutionary War. Some were said to be fighting with the British, some with the Colonists and some abstained altogether. Nonetheless, the Cayugas were loyal to their families and to their land. As land encrochments occurred from both sides of the war, Cayugas defended themselves. As war continued to vacillate between the two possible victors, Cayugas could be found on boths sides in an effort to be found in a negotiating position for land and peace when the conflict was over.
Following the Revolutionary War, in 1779, General George Washington commissioned General John Sullivan and James Clinton to destroy the Cayugas and other members of the Haudenosaunee. These two Generals led 6,200 troops into many villages and crop fields of the Cayugas and the Haudenosaunee and destroyed them. There was no complete victory over the Haudenosaunee. Although many tribal members and bands of each tribe were scattered (to Ohio, Canada and Buffalo Creek) because of this campaign, there remained a few to negotiate a Treaty with General Washington. Cayugas that relocated to Ohio were later moved to a territory now called Oklahoma. Cayugas that relocated to Canada now reside on the Grand River Reservation at Six Nations. The Cayugas that remained, negotiated with the first president of the United States of America.
On November 11th, 1794 the Cayuga Nation along with the other members of the Six Nations (or Haudenosaunee) signed the Treaty of Canandaigua. This Treaty established peace between the United States and the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee. This treaty established peace for needs of the United States, but it also provided for the sovereignty for each Haudenosaunee Nation within its lands. It established explicit Federal Powers of the United States over the state of New York. It grandfathered previous treaties made between the state of New York and Haudenosaunee Nations, but also established jurisdiction over the state of New York as it pertained to Indian Affairs and Indian transactions. This treaty remains in full force today.
Over a series of illegal land transactions and treaties, the New York State has taken all the lands of the Cayuga Nation. In accordance with the Treaty of Canandaigua and the Constitution of the United States of America, the State of New York neglected to seek Federal approval for these land transactions and claimed powers of the state in Indian Affairs, for which they have none. As a result, the State of New York still claims that the Cayuga Nation has no reservation and will not permit the Cayuga Nation free use and enjoyment of a Treaty established reservation. The Cayuga Nation continues to fight for its Treaty Rights today and will continue to seek to have these rights upheld by the State of New York and the United State of America.