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Tribal area of ​​the Tutelo and Saponi, probably before 1600.

The Tutelo were a North American Indian tribe from the Sioux language family . They were linguistically and culturally with the tribes of the Saponi , Occaneechi , Monacan , Manahoac , Shakori related and other eastern peoples of the Sioux, whose traditional habitat above the fall line of the Appalachian Mountains in today's states North Carolina and Virginia was. The center of the former tribal area of ​​the Tutelo was near today's town of Salem on the Big Sandy River in the US state of Virginia. In the late 17th century, they suffered constant pressure from English colonists and hostile Iroquois from the north, so they united with their closest neighbors and were known as Tutelo-Saponi. They left Virginia around 1740 and moved north to seek shelter from their former enemies. In 1753 they were absorbed by the Cayuga from the Iroquois League in what is now New York State and lost their identity as a separate tribe. Today the tutelo are considered extinct.

Name, language and area of ​​residence

The name Tutelo is an Algonquian variant of the name the Iroquois used to designate all Sioux tribes: Toderochrone . The self-name ( autonym ) of the Tutelo was Yesan, Yesah or Yesang . The early colonists also referred to them as Nahyssan, Monahassanough or Oniasont , as can be seen from the first maps of what is now West Virginia . Horatio Hale discovered in 1883 that the Tutelo language belongs to the Sioux languages ​​and the linguists Gatschet , Mooney and Dorsey followed suit . The Tutelo were once part of a group of Sioux tribes who lived in the Piedmont region of what is now Virginia, North and South Carolina in the United States. They were first mentioned in 1609 by John Smith under the names Monacan and Mannahoac and had great similarities in their language. The Tutelo seem to have been particularly closely related to the Saponi , because the languages ​​of both tribes were almost identical. The tribal area of ​​the Tutelo and Saponi extended at the beginning of European contact around 1600 over the upper reaches of the James River and Rappahannock River in Virginia and was in the direct area of ​​the Iroquois trade route at the foot of the Appalachians .


In 1671 the British Fallam and Batts encountered the Tutelo in Tutero Town , a village near present-day Salem in Virginia, with their expedition . During this time they waged permanent war against tribes of the Powhatan Confederation and were also constantly attacked by migrating Iroquois from the north. For this reason, Tutelo and Saponi left their tribal area together between 1671 and 1701 and moved to the confluence of the Staunton and Dan River to the related Occaneechee and a little later to an island in the Roanoke River directly below its fork. Around 1701 Lawson found the Saponi on the upper reaches of the Yadkin River in North Carolina and reported that the Tutelo lived further west, probably on the upper reaches of the Yadkin in the mountains. He estimated the number of all five Sioux tribes, namely the Tutelo, Saponi, Shakori, Occaneechi and Shakori at around 750 people. Soon after Lawson's visit, they all moved near the white settlements, crossed the Roanoke River, and established a village called Sapona Town not far from the east bank . It was about 15 miles west of what is now the city of Windsor in Bertie County , North Carolina. Around 1714 they moved near Fort Christanna in Brunswick County in Virginia near the North Carolina border, established the village of Junkatapurse, and here they were known as Saponi-Tutelo.

In 1722, through the mediation of the colonial governments, a peace treaty was reached between the Iroquois and the Virginia tribes. As a result, the Saponi-Tutelo migrated north a few years later and settled under the protection of the Iroquois on the Susquehanna River in Shamokin , Pennsylvania . Their chiefs were allowed at the Grand Council of the Six Nations to participate (Great Council of the Six Nations). 1771 they settled under the protection of Cayuga on the east side of the Cayugasees , about three miles above the south end of the lake near the present city of Ithaca , New York. Their village was called Coreorgonel and was destroyed by General Sullivan's expedition during the American Revolutionary War in 1779 in retaliation for British Iraqi attacks on the Americans.

After the war around 1784, many members of the Tutelo moved together with the Iroquois to Canada, where the British had offered the Iroquois land to settle. Under the leadership of the Mohawk chief Joseph Brant around 2,000 followers went to Canada and settled on the Grand River in southern Ontario on 675,000 acres (27.3 square kilometers), they as compensation for lost land of the Iroquois in New York by Governor Frederick Haldimand received would have. On this land, the Six Nations Reserve of the Grand River was established, in which Brant rekindled the council fire of the Iroquois League, which had gone out in 1777. There they established two villages in which 382 cayugas and 74 tutelos were counted. The majority settled on the heights at Brantford and built a town hall there. As a result of two epidemics in 1832 and 1848, most of the members of the Tutelo died. The few survivors were accepted into their tribe by marrying into Cayuga families. The Saponi apparently did not move to the Grand River Reserve and their fate remains unclear to this day. They probably stayed with the Cayuga in New York State and were absorbed by them. Around 1789, however, there were still a few Saponi who lived with the Cayuga in their reservation on the Seneca River in New York. The last speaker of the Tutelo language named Nikonha died in 1870 at the age of 105. The linguist Horatio Hale was in contact with him and was able to scientifically prove that it is a Sioux language.


Around 1600 there were around 2500 tutelo. Around 1700 they counted, together with the Saponi, Keyauwee, Occaneechi and Shakori, only around 750 tribesmen.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Marian E. White: Handbook of North American Indians . Volume 15: Northeast, Cayuga , p. 502.
  2. a b c Tutelo Tribe . Retrieved November 12, 2016 .