Published on January 21, 2011 by Amy
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Oskanondonha (1710-1816) was an Oneida pine tree chief born a Susquehanna (Conestoga) but adopted as an Oneida. Alternate names for him include Skenando, Skenandoa, Skonondon, Shenandoah and the baptismal name John. He was one of the tallest men during his time (6’5″). He favored the colonials in the American Revolutionary War and helped a faction of the Oneida to fight against the British and other Iroquois. He commanded 250 warriors from the Oneida and Tuscarora tribes. The pipe he gave to Daniel D. Tompkins is on display.
Upon his death, at his wish he was buried beside his friend Reverend Samuel Kirkland at Kirkland’s home (known today as Harding Farm) in Clinton, New York. The first mention of Skenando’s name came from Kirkland who became acquainted with him when he first went into the Indian country in 1764. In 1851, both bodies were exhumed and moved to the cemetery at Hamilton College of which he is the co-founder. He was a personal friend of George Washington who named the Shenandoah Valley in his honor. He was the father-in-law of the Mohawk war leader Joseph Brant who had Shenandoah jailed at Ft. Niagara in 1779 while the Oneida was on a peace mission. He is the ancestor of the Oneida singer Joanne Shenandoah.