York County before the arrival of European settlers


Before the arrival of Dutch, Swedish, English, German and Scotch-Irish European immigrants from Europe the North American territory which later became known as Pennsylvania was occupied and inhabited by a multitude of aboriginal “Indian” tribes.  Throughout the larger area of North America which later became the original 13 colonies, the general thought by arriving European settlers was that the land was theirs by “right of discovery.”  This mind set was impressed on them by their respective National governments; Holland, Sweden, France, England, Spain, etc.


As a result, claims of ownership by the native inhabitants were often legally disregarded by the European immigrants and their sponsoring governments.  This generally led to conflict, mistrust, wars and bloodshed between the many aboriginal “Indian” tribes and the invading European “white man.”  To the North American Indian population, the arrival of Europeans all too often meant a loss of hunting grounds and farming property which they had been able to enjoy in a communal fashion for many generations.


In the larger area which included what eventually became York County the aboriginal tribes in the late 17th century included the Susquehanna, Conestoga, Shawanese, and Ganawese.  These tribes in turn were superintended by a larger, more powerful group of tribes known collectively as the “Five Nations” or the Iroquois Confederacy.  


The “Five Nations” consisted of the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagoes, the Cayugas and the Senecas, and afterward became the “Six Nations,” by the addition of the Tuscarora’s.  The “Five Nations” of the Iroquois Confederacy together inhabited and controlled much of what we recognize today as the State of New York. 



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