Onondaga Indians, a tribe of the Iroquoian linguistic stock and one of the Iroquois Confederacy, or Five (later Six) Nations. The Onondagas were one of the tribes that formed the Iroquois Confederacy around 1570. At the time, they numbered about 1,500. The Onondagas, because of their strategic location in what is now central New York, became keepers of the council fire of the confederacy and of the wampum belts recording treaties. The largest Onondaga village served as the confederacy's capital, and the chief of the Great Council was an Onondaga.
In the Revolutionary War, in which they supported the British, the Onondagas suffered great losses. A number moved to Canada after the war. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Onondagas sold most of their land to New York state. Today, some of the Onondagas in the United States live on a reservation near Syracuse, New York. The reservation Onondagas regard themselves as a sovereign nation and reject United States citizenship. Other Onondagas live in urban areas, and some live on reserves in Canada.