Ely Parker: Report on Indian Affairs to the War Department

(1867)

About the Author

Ely Samuel Parker, or Hasanoanda (“Leading Name”), was born in 1828 at Indian Falls, on the Tonawanda (Seneca) Reservation in western New York State. He descended from a politically powerful family, and his mother belonged to the Wolf Clan, the same clan as the famed Seneca orator Red Jacket. In 1851 the Seneca formally acknowledged Parker's role as a community leader and “raised” him to a position as one of the fifty sachems of the Iroquois Confederacy. He was just twenty-three years old. Along with his new status in the community came a new name: Donehogawa, or “Open Door.” This was the customary name bestowed upon the Iroquois sachem who guarded the western door of both the physical and symbolic longhouse against outsiders.

In 1857 Parker negotiated a treaty that ended the decades-long land dispute with the Ogden Land Company, an important victory for the Seneca leader. In 1861 he alleviated some of the community tensions unleashed by the legacy of the...

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Ely Parker (National Archives and Records Administration)

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