The tribe’s local council was composed of four clan kinship groups, which became the pattern of the Iroquoian Confederation. In 1660 they were estimated to number 1,500, but by 1778, were reduced to 1,100.
At the beginning of the American Revolution, a large part of the tribe removed to Canada and never returned, while the rest were scattered among the other tribes of the Confederacy. During the Revolution, Cayuga warriors fought on both sides, while others abstained completely. However, the Iroquois generally sided with the British, causing the Americans to make raids against them. Soon after the Revolution, many Cayuga sold their lands in New York, with some going to Ohio, where they joined other Iroquois and became known as the Seneca of the Sandusky, or Mingo. These were later moved to Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
In November 1794, the New York Cayuga Nation, along with other Iroquois nations signed the Pickering Treaty with the United States, by which they ceded much of their lands in New York to the United States, forced to do so as allies of the defeated British. It was the second treaty the United States entered into.
Today, there are four Cayuga bands. The two largest, the Lower Cayuga and Upper Cayuga, live in Ontario, Canada both at Six Nations of the Grand River. Those that live in the United States belong to the Cayuga Nation of New York in Versailles and or to the combined Cayuga-Seneca Nation in Oklahoma.
Compiled by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated February 2019.