Shirt Wearing People

Nina Greene, Tuscarora

Iroquois Social dance has been an integral part of Nina's life since she began traveling at age eleven in the northeast with Ron LaFrance's dance group. The outfits she wore and the beaded accessories were her own creations. As a young girl she played with her Barbie dolls and made Indian outfits for them using her Mom's,(Diane Fuller) leather and beads. Nina received an art scholarship in high school, but decided to attend business school instead. She has worked as a secretary, as a community outreach worker, and as a caseworker for Family Services. Her concern for young people is evident and she and her husband Orville are foster parents for Native kids and host foreign exchange students.

Nina says, "Involvement in dance and other Native activities such as lacrosse enriches a young person's life by promoting self-esteem and making them proud to be Native American. Keeping young people busy with these constructive activities keeps them away from destructive pursuits such as drinking and drugs." Being part of a dance troupe involves constantly making entire outfits including beaded collars and crowns, moccasins, gustowehs, and bustles. Nina works with her family often sewing her children's and husband's outfits while they will finish them by adding beadwork. Nina loves learning and what she does not know she goes out of her way to learn. Nina shares what she has learned by going to the Tuscarora school to teach crafts and dance classes for kids and adults. She demonstrates at cultural events, schools, scout groups, etc.

The Tuscarora Nation (Ska-Ruh-Reh), meaning the Shirt-Wearing People, joined the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy in 1722.

After the Tuscarora War in 1712, most members of the Tuscarora nation moved from North Carolina to New York.  They joined the Haudenosaunee and settled near their sponsors, the Oneidas. The migration period took approximately 90 years to complete.

The Tuscaroras who stayed in North Carolina signed a treaty in June of 1718 granting them a tract of land on the Roanoke River in what is now Bertie County, North Carolina.  In 1722, the Bertie County reservation was chartered, and over the next several decades the Tuscarora lands were continually diminished as they were sold off in deals that were frequently designed to take advantage of the Tuscarora.

The Haudenosaunee decided to remain neutral during the American Revolutionary War. However, some members of the Tuscarora and Oneida nations sided against the rest of the Iroquois Confederacy by fighting with the colonists. After the war was over, those that fought with Britain followed Joseph Brant into Ontario to settle at Six Nations of the Grand River.

 In 1803, more Tuscaroras migrated to New York from North Carolina.  They reunited with the Tuscaroras who were living in Niagara County, New York. 

In 1831 the Tuscaroras sold the remaining rights to their lands in North Carolina. However, despite not having a reservation in North Carolina, many Tuscaroras remained there.

Tuscarora Gustowweh (covered with split feathers
with no feathers pointing up or down) In this particular Gustoweh, the feather hanging from the brim is decorative. 

There are 2 Tuscarora communities in the United States and Canada shown in blue on the map below:

sIX NATIONS: west of Buffalo, NY near Brantford, Ontario

Tuscarora: near Lewiston, NY north of Niagara Falls.