Canandaigua Treaty

Canandaigua Treaty of 1794

Brother, we the Sachems of the Six Nations will now tell our minds. The business of this treaty is to brighten the Chain of Friendship between us and the fifteen fires.

– Red Jacket

The Canandaigua Treaty is a treaty between the United States of America and the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy – Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora. It was signed in Canandaigua, New York on November 11, 1794 by sachems representing the Grand Council of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and by Colonel Timothy Pickering who was the official agent of President George Washington. This treaty is sometimes called the “Pickering Treaty.”

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Nations sent 1600 representatives to the treaty council – the Seneca sending an impressive 800 representatives. The United States sent both Colonel Timothy Pickering and General Isarael Chapin. It was General Isarael Chapin who chose the treaty council site to be at Canandaigua, New York. Quaker representatives, led by William Savery of Philadelphia, also attended this treaty council. These Quaker mediators had been invited to the treaty negotiations by the Seneca people because Quakers were a trust-worthy, peaceful people who could read English and help to ensure fair negotiations.

November 11, 1794 the Pickering Treaty:

A Treaty Between the United States of America and the Tribes of Indians Called the Six Nations:

The President of the United States having determined to hold a conference with the Six Nations of Indians for the purpose of removing from their minds all causes of complaint, and establishing a firm and permanent friendship with them; and Timothy Pickering being appointed sole agent for that purpose; and the agent having met and conferred with the sachems and warriors of the Six Nations in general council: Now, in order to accomplish the good design of this conference, the parties have agreed on the following articles, which, when ratified by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States, shall be binding on them and the Six Nations….

Peace and friendship are hereby firmly established, and shall be perpetual, between the United States and the Six Nations.
The United States acknowledge the lands reserved to the Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga Nations in their respective treaties with the State of New York, and called their reservations, to be their property; and the United States will never claim the same, nor disturb them, or either of the Six Nations, nor their Indian friends, residing thereon, and united with them in the free use and enjoyment thereof; but the said reservations shall remain theirs, until they choose to sell the same to the people of the United States, who have the right to purchase.
The land of the Seneca Nation is bounded as follows: beginning on Lake Ontario, at the northwest corner of the land they sold to Oliver Phelps; the line runs westerly along the lake, as far as Oyongwongyeh Creek, at Johnson’s Landing Place, about four miles eastward, from the fort of Niagara; then southerly, up that creek to its main fork, continuing the same straight course, to that river; (this line, from the mouth of Oyongwongyeh Creek, to the river Niagara, above Fort Schlosser, being the eastern boundry of a strip of land, extending from the same line to Niagara River, which the Seneca Nation ceded to the King of Great Britain, at the treaty held about thirty years ago, with Sir William Johnson;) then the line runs along the Niagara River to Lake Erie, to the northwest corner of a triangular piece of land, which the United States conveyed to the State of Pennsylvania, as by the President’s patent, dated the third day of March, 1792; then due south to the northern boundary of that State; then due east to the southwest corner of the land sold by the Seneca Nation to Oliver Phelps; and then north and northerly, along Phelps’ line, to the place of beginning, on the Lake Ontario. Now, the United States acknowledge all the land within the aforementioned boundaries, to be the property of the Seneca Nation; and the United States will never claim the same, nor disturb the Seneca Nation, nor any of the Six Nations, or of their Indian friends residing thereon, and united with them, in the free use and enjoyment thereof; but it shall remain theirs, until they choose to sell the same, to the people of the United States, who have the right to purchase.
The United States have thus described and acknowledged what lands belong to the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas, and engaged never to claim the same, not disturb them, or any of the Six Nations, or their Indian friends residing thereon, and united with them, in the free use and enjoyment thereof; now, the Six Nations, and each of them, hereby engage that they will never claim any other lands, within the boundaries of the United States, nor ever disturb the people of the United States in the free use and enjoyment thereof.
The Seneca Nation, all others of the Six Nations concurring cede to the United States the right of making a wagon road from Fort Schlosser to Lake Erie, as far south as Buffalo Creek; and the people of the United States shall have the free and undisturbed use of this road for the purposes of traveling and transportation. And the Six Nations and each of them, will forever allow to the people of the United States, a free passage through their lands, and the free use of the harbors and rivers adjoining and within their respective tracts of land, for the passing and securing of vessels and boats, and liberty to land their cargoes, where necessary, for their safety.
In consideration of the peace and friendship hereby established, and of the engagements entered into by the Six Nations; and because the United States desire, with humanity and kindness, to contribute to their comfortable support; and to render the peace and friendship hereby established strong and perpetual, the United States now deliver to the Six Nations, and the Indians of the other nations residing among them, a quantity of goods, of the value of ten thousand dollars. And for the same considerations, and with a view to promote the future welfare of the Six Nations, and of their Indian friends aforesaid, the United States will add the sum of three thousand dollars to the one thousand five hundred dollars heretofore allowed to them by an article ratified by the President, on the twenty-third day of April, 1792, making in the whole four thousand five hundred dollars; which shall be expended yearly, forever, in purchasing clothing, domestic animals, implements of husbandry, and other utensils, suited to their circumstances, and in compensating useful artificers, who shall reside with or near them, and be employed for their benefit. The immediate application of the whole annual allowance now stipulated, to be made by the superintendent, appointed by the President, for the affairs of the Six Nations, and their Indian friends aforesaid.
Lest the firm peace and friendship now established should be interrupted by the misconduct of individuals, the United States and the Six Nations agree, that for injuries done by individuals, on either side, no private revenge or retaliation shall take place; but, instead thereof, complaint shall be made by the party injured, to the other; by the Six Nations or any of them, to the President of the United States, or the superintendent by him appointed; and by the superintendent, or other person appointed by the President, to the principal chiefs of the Six Nations, or of the Nation to which the offender belongs; and such prudent measures shall then be pursued, as shall be necessary to preserve or peace and friendship unbroken, until the Legislature (or Great Council) of the United States shall make other equitable provision for that purpose.
It is clearly understood by the parties to this treaty, that the —- annuity, stipulated in the sixth article, is to be applied to the benefit of such of the Six Nations, and of their Indian friends united with them, as aforesaid, as do or shall reside within the boundaries of the United States; for the United States do not interfere with nations, tribes or families of Indians, elsewhere resident.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the said Timothy Pickering, and the sachems and war chiefs of the said Six Nations, have hereunto set their hands and seals.

Done at Canandaigua, in the State of New York, in the eleventh day of November, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four.


Witnesses: Interpreters:
——— ————
Israel Chapin Horatio Jones
Wm. Shepard, Jun’r Joseph Smith
James Smedley Jasper Parrish
John Wickham Henry Abeele
Augustus Porter
James H. Garnsey
Wm. Ewing
Israel Chapin, Jun’r (Signed by fifty-nine Sachems and War Chiefs of the Six Nations.)


——————— —————–
or Handsome Lake
or Woods On Fire
or Fish Carrier HO-NA-YA-WUS
KANATSOYH or Farmer’s Brother
or Nicholas Kusick OOT-A-GUAS-SO
or Two Skies Of A Length
O-NE-AT-OR-LEE-OOH or Open The Way
or Handsome Lake SOO-A-YOO-WAU
SE-QUID-ONG-QUEE or Heap Of Dogs
KOHN-YE-AU-GONG or Half Town
or Jake Stroud THA-OG-WAU-NI-AS
or Capt. Prantup or Cornplanter
SOOS-YOO-WAU-NA or Green Grasshopper
or Big Sky or Little Billy

The Canandaigua Treaty established peace and friendship between the young United States of America and the Six Nations. The Treaty also affirmed Haudenosaunee land rights – the Canandaigua Treaty restored to the Six Nations lands in western New York State that had been ceded by the Fort Stanwix Treaty. The Canandaigua Treaty also recognized the sovereignty of the Six Nations to govern and set laws as individual nations.

Some notable signatories of this treaty included Cornplanter (Seneca), Handsome Lake (Seneca), and Red Jacket (Seneca).

While the chain of friendship that embodies this treaty has been strained and there have been violations of the treaty, the treaty has never been broken and is still actively recognized by the Six Nations and the United States governments.

The Canandaigua Treaty Today

As part of its continued observance of the Canandaigua Treaty, the United States each year provides $4500 for the annual distribution of cloth to the Six Nations peoples. This annual distribution of cloth is 200+ year old affirmation of the obligations the United States government made in this treaty.

The Canandaigua Treaty Day Celebration, held each year on November 11 in Canandaigua, New York, is an event commerating the continued observance of this treaty by the Six Nations people.