Menkwa or Minqua, a word of Algonquin origin used to refer to speakers of Iroquoian languages, came to refer in the late colonial period to members of the Six Nations who lived outside of the Iroquois homeland in upstate New York. Euro-Americans adopted the term and eventually standardized the spelling as Mingo.
Thus Shikellamy, whom the Six Nations stationed at the Forks of the Susquehanna River to keep watch over the subject Indian peoples living on land the Iroquois claimed in Pennsylvania, was an Oneida. His youngest son, Tahgahjute or James Logan (Chief Logan), whose English name had been chosen to honor a colonial official, lived most of his life in Pennsylvania and Ohio and was known as a Mingo. Similarly in western Pennsylvania in the mid-18th century, Tanacharison or Half-King, a Seneca, presided over a Mingo village as well as several nearby villages with mixed populations of Mingos, Delawares, Shawnees, and other native origins. Most of the Mingo warriors who were actively engaged in attacks on West Virginia settlements came from this vicinity or from villages farther west in Ohio.
Mingos were not a ‘‘tribe’’ in the sense that this biblical term is usually applied to native societies. There was no Mingo language or culture, for example, apart from languages and cultural forms that Mingos shared with other Eastern woodland peoples. From the Euro-American standpoints, however, Mingo actions in warfare and trade were what mattered, and so whites included Mingo in their list of enemies in the long struggle for the Ohio Valley frontier. Thanks primarily to Logan—more specifically to his four raids on white settlements during the summer of 1774 and the famous speech in which he justified his actions Mingos—figured prominently in white annals of frontier warfare.
Following the collapse of native resistance in the 1790s, most Mingos went west with their Delaware and Shawnee neighbors. Though far from their Iroquois origins, they nevertheless gradually reverted to their former ethnic identities. Their descendants in modern Oklahoma are known as Seneca-Cayugas.
This Article was written by John Alexander Williams
Last Revised on October 20, 2010
Richter, Daniel K. The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
Wallace, Paul A. W. Conrad Weiser, 1696-1760: Friend of Colonist and Mohawk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1945.