Origin and History
The Mingo people are an Iroquoian-speaking group of Native Americans. They originally consisted of parties of Seneca and Cayuga, two tribes belonging to the Iroquois Confederacy, who migrated to the Ohio towards the end of the “Beaver War.” They gradually assimilated part of the Wyandot, Neutrals, Erie and Susquehannock, who had been defeated by the Iroquois and had migrated to the Ohio.
The Mingo people dominated the Ohio Valley from the late 17th to early 18th centuries. Then, Algonquian nations gradually reconquered part of the valley. By the 1740s and 1750s, the Mingo people were still living in northeastern Ohio.
N. B.: it seems that it is only after the the Seven Years’ War that Algonquian-speaking Shawnee and Delaware migrants were amalgamated in the Mingo people.
In 1832, the Mingo People were displaced from western Ohio to Kansas by the government of the U.S.A. In 1869, they were displaced once more to Oklahoma.
Role during the War
By the time of the Seven Years’ War, the Mingo people still occupied part of the Ohio Valley.
In November 1753, when Washington undertook his first expedition in the Ohio Valley, he was joined by Tanacharison (known to the British as "the Half-King") of the Mingo people and by 3 of his tribesmen.
In February 1754, a band of backwoodsmen under Captain Trent crossed the mountains to build a storehouse and stockade at the forks of the Ohio, where Pittsburgh now stands, a spot that Washington had examined when on his way to Fort Le Boeuf, and which he had reported as the best for the purpose. Tanacharison and the Mingos assisted Trent. In May, Washington was on the Youghiogheny River, a branch of the Monongahela, exploring it in hopes that it might prove navigable, when a messenger came to him from his old comrade, Tanacharison, who was on the way to join him. At sunrise on May 28, Washington's party met with Tanacharison's 12 warriors. A council was held where Washington and Tanacharison agreed to attack the French encampment. Two Mingo warriors led the way. During the ensuing engagement, Jumonville was killed. Washington then retired to Fort Necessity. On June 3, Tanacharison joined Washington, along with the female potentate known as Queen Alequippa, and some 30 Native American families. On June 18, Washington met with Tanacharison, who told him that he had been unable to convince the other chiefs to assist Washington and said that he would also be unable to help the Virginians.
By 1755, it seems that the Mingo People had changed allegiance and, on July 9, fought alongside the French at the combat of the Monongahela.
The bodies and faces of Iroquois men were heavily tattooed with geometric designs and their noses and ears were pieced with rings made up of wampum or silver. On the warpath, the faces and bodies of the warriors were painted half red, half black.
Men usually shaved most of their hair, leaving only a tuft of hair in the centre.
Headdress: a cap called the gustoweh made of either buckskin or cloth tied to wood splints and decorated with feathers was often worn by men. Each nation could be identified by the number and positioning:
- the Cayuga: a single feather at a forty-five degree angle
- the Seneca: a single feather pointing up
Breechcloth: a leather belt with a rectangle of red or blue duffel cloth pulled under it, front and rear. Leather could also be used in place of duffel cloth.
Moccasins: deer-skin moccasins rising several cm above the ankle. They were decorated with porcupine quills or beads in various patterns.
Ammunition pouch: buckskin pouch with straps over the shoulder .
Belts carrying a powder horn and a tomahawk.
A quilled case carrying a knife was worn around the neck.
N.B.: silver armbands and gorgets were popular accessories
During colder months, warriors also wore:
- a shirt made of broadcloth
- a buckskin coat
- leggings made of broadcloth (they were fastened to the belt of the breechcloth)
- moccasins made of bear skins with the fur turned inside
- mittens from beaver and bear furs
Bows and arrows with flint tips were the traditional weapons of Iroquois warriors. Quivers were made from corn husks. Wooden shields and war clubs were also used. By mid XVIIIth century metal knives and hatchets were common, as well as tomahawks with iron blades.
By the 1630s, most Iroquois warriors had European firearms which had been traded with the Dutch.
Ohio History Centtal – Seneca-Cayuga
N.B.: the section Role during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.