The Mohawk Nation is the easternmost Nation within the Iroquois Confederacy, a Six Nation Confederacy comprised of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscaroras Nations. Their ancestral homeland is the Mohawk River Valley located in present day New York State.
At the onset of the American Revolution (1765 – 1783), the Mohawks took a position of neutrality. When the fighting reached the Mohawk River Valley, they were persuaded to fight for the British Crown in part due to the promise that their homeland villages would be restored at the end of the war. However, when the war ended in 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, Britain surrendered the Mohawk homelands to the American rebel forces.
To compensate, the Crown allowed the Mohawks to select any of the unsettled land in Upper Canada to claim as their own. They chose the Bay of Quinte area, which was part of a vast northern territory controlled by the Iroquois Confederacy. The region is also the birthplace of Tekanawita, the Peacemaker that brought the Iroquois Confederacy under a constitution of peace in the 12th century.
On May 22, 1784, about 20 families of the Mohawk Nation arrived at the Bay of Quinte by canoe via Lachine, Quebec. Although the Crown had promised the lands to the Six Nations, some areas were being occupied by Loyalist families. It took nine years of negotiating with the Crown before the Six Nations were finally granted a tract of land, smaller than what was originally promised. On April 1, 1793, Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe executed the Simcoe Deed, granting the Mohawk people 92,700 acres on the Bay of Quinte. This township became known as the Mohawk Tract.
Between 1820-1843, two-thirds of the treaty land was rescinded by the government and given to United Empire Loyalist families. Today, the Mohawk territory is about 18,000 acres and home to 8000 members.
“History of Tyendinaga.” Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. <mbq-tmt.org/community/history-of-tyendinaga>.