Loretta Metoxen, Oneida Tribal Historian Interview Nov 2008
Small pox is a communicable disease brought here both by the European and Africans when the slaves came to South Carolina in 1738. The small pox disease wiped out 50% of the Cherokee Nation because they were located on the eastern coast. That would have been about 20,000 people or more that died in a very short time. It is believed that small pox moved to the New England area in the 1600s, and when the pilgrims came in 1620 they had found many graves of people who had died.
Some tribes in the North Eastern territory were completely annihilated prior to 1620. The small pox eventually reached the Oneidas, the Mohawks, the Cayuga, the Onondagas and Seneca and reeked havoc. The nature of the disease is that it will enter an area and people will die, the people who survive generate other children and then 20 – 25 yrs later the disease will come back and reach those people who were not immune to that disease. When tribes were decimated with few survivors, those people would move in with other tribes.
It has been debated by scholars whether or not the US Army provided Native people with blankets that may have been deliberately infected with small pox. This effort by the U.S. Government was to terminate the "Indian Problem". I beleive it to be true.
I don’t understand this, but there was a small pox outbreak in the Oneida tribal school in 1905, but they had vaccine by that time and those children should have been vaccinated. Why the United States government didn’t vaccinate children who were in a school setting and in a compact living situation, I do not know. It was not only about small pox but it became a breeding place for tuberculosis where the children where not immune to that either.