The Bonafide Oneidas of The Thames


The Oneida Nation is one of five nations with an ancient binding relationship with each other. However, like other Nations, the post-contact period has this nation situated in a confined territory, as indicated on maps which forced European private property concepts. 

Like Many Nations, Oneidas Rotated Villages

When Oneidas were faced with resettlement efforts, relocating was based on preference. According to historical records; decisions were made with three distinct parties in addition to those who chose to remain.

A Retelling

One hundred eighty-two years ago, on October 9th, 1840, some 242 men, women and children travelled the Erie Canal to board a ferry at Buffalo. Stepping off a Ferry in Port Stanley, they started to walk to their newly purchased land.

The Bonafide Oneidas paid $41.00 each towards purchasing some 5,500 acres along the Thames river.

The proceeds were from coerced sales of their land in what is now called New York State. The province of Canada acted as a broker and did not purchase the land for them. Purchasing of their land placed the Bonafide Oneidas in a unique position. However, It raises the question of why the Federal and Provincial governments are interfering in their matters.

People of the standing stone

The move did not make the Oneida immigrants as history suggests; in fact, Payment was an act of diplomacy to share territory that served as hunting grounds.

The Oneida occupied settlements in Napanee called Ganneious before the Messassauga occupation in 1696. The area had also already been included in Earlier Negotiations providing a kick back for the second negotiators


Tracing The Steps of Our Ancestors

Participants of Anniversary Walk. Photo Yakowennahskats

Recently, that anniversary was celebrated by the descendants of some of those very same people. They were starting off in a north-westerly direction from Port Stanley, just as their ancestors did on that autumn day all those years ago. 

…They agreed and told us we need to decide who is Bonafide and who isn’t

Darryl Chrisjohn

 “the ones who were last to come did not pay for the settlement like our families did, and it caused a bunch of bad trouble, and then that’s when they did a roll call of the names and had a general council meeting, Bonafide Oneidas attended that meeting then they made membership list sent to the government they agreed and told us we need to decide who is Bonafide and who isn’t” … Explains Darryl Chrisjohn who completed the walk. 

Marking a clear delineation between incorporated  Canadian entities Controlling Band membership and the original membership controlled exclusively by the Bonafide Oneida. 

Standing at the Same Height

Image taken from Facebook

Chrisjohn is evident when he speaks about the Bonafide Oneidas as not being in a hierarchical authority but as those descendants actively upholding agreements with deep roots in Onkwehonweneha over those who are negotiating as arms of a foreign government, including HDI. 

Several chapters are yet to be discussed, but this is a starting point.