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The Neutral Confederacy or Neutral Nation or Neutral people were an Iroquoian-speaking North American indigenous people who lived near the northern shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, on the west side of the Niagara River, west of the Tabacco Nation. They were related to the Iroquois Confederation to their southeast, the Huron peoples also living around Lake Ontario, the Erie people of the south shore of Lake Erie, the Tabacco people situated east of Lake Erie, and the Susquehannocks of Central Pennsylvania. Like the others of Iroquoian culture, the tribes would raid and feud with fellow Iroquoian tribes when they weren't gaming and engaging in friendly competitions. They were generally wary of rival Algonquian peoples, such as those that inhabited Canada to the East, along the Saint Lawrence valley drainage catchment. Iroquoian tribes were later known to historians for the fierce ways in which they waged war. Some tribes were highly inclined to competitive games. A largely agrarian society, Neutral farmsteads were admired and marveled over by European leaders writing reports home.The Neutrals were primarily engaged in hunting, and traded with others using animal skins. The largest group referred to themselves as Chonnonton ("Keepers of The Deer") — partly due to their practice of herding deer into pens, a strategy used while hunting. Another group, the Onguiaahra ("Near the big waters" or possibly "The Strait"), populated the more southern Niagara Peninsula, and account for the origin of the word, "Niagara." The Chonnonton territory contained large deposits of flint, which was a valuable resource for sharp tools, fire-starting and, eventually, firearms, which, as a primary resource, allowed them to trade simultaneously with oft-warring Huron and Iroquois tribes. Since they were not at war with the Huron or Iroquois in 1600, Jesuits traveling in the area of what is now Hamilton, the lower Grand Valley and Niagara, called them the Neutrals. However, the confederacy did have feuds with the Algonkian people who were believed to live in what is now Michigan. In 1616, the Neutral Nation was estimated to have 40 villages and 4,000 warriors. In 1641, after a serious epidemic, the Jesuits counted 40 Neutral villages with about 12,000 people.

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Neutral Nation [2006]


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