Seneca Indian People

Seneca Indian People are the native North American Indians who lived in the between the Genesee River and Canandaigua Lake , which is present New York now. Recent archaeological evidences indicate that these people lived all the way down to the Allegany River into what is now upper North Western Pennsylvania.

Seneca Indian men were brave warriors and they were in charge of hunting, trading, and war. Seneca Indian women were dominating women and they were in charge of farming, property, and family.

Seneca Indian men used to wear breechcloths with leggings and Seneca Indian women used to wear wraparound skirts with shorter leggings. Originally, shirts were not worn by men in Seneca culture, but women often donned a long tunic called a kilt or overdress. Usually, moccasins were worn on feet. During the colonial era, under the influence of European culture, Seneca Indians started wearing cloths like shirts and blouses and started decorating them with beadwork and ribbon applique.

Like the Sioux, Seneca Indian people didn't wear long headdresses. Seneca Indian men wore traditional Iroquois headdresses that were feathered caps carrying insignia of their tribe. The headdress had one eagle feather standing straight on top. Seneca men, often during the war times, shaved their heads except for a scalp lock or a crest down the center of their head; the style known as a roach, or a “Mohawk.” Sometimes they used to augment this hairstyle with splayed feathers or artificial roaches made of brightly dyed porcupine and deer hair. Sometimes, the men had their faces and bodies decorated and painted with tribal tattoo designs.

Arrows, bows, clubs, spears and shields were the major weapons of Seneca Indian men. Seneca hunters used bows and arrows; fishermen used spears and fishing poles; and warriors used their bows, arrows, clubs, spears and shields to fight. The other weapons & tools of Seneca Indian people include stone adzes (hand axes for woodworking, flint knives for skinning animals, and wooden hoes for farming. Seneca Indian tribe and other Iroquois people were skilled in woodworkers; they could steam wood to bend and make curved tools. This way is still used by some Iroquois artisans to make lacrosse sticks.

Seneca Indian women used to wear special beaded tiaras sometimes. They had long hair and kept them loose or plaited into a long braid, but they cut their hair during the mourning times. Seneca Indian women did not paint and decorate their faces and bodies with tattoos.

Today, Seneca Indian People wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths, but still wear moccasins or beaded shirts are still worn by some Seneca people. These people wear feathers in their hair only on special occasions or on traditional dances. 

Joseph Paige 2006

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