Genus Loci -The Erie/Alliwegis

I’ve been researching western Ny folklore, specifically Chautauqua County, for a while. I’m going to start posting what I’ve learned. I’m starting with the Erie.

As far as I can tell Chautauqua county was first settled by the Eries.  They called themselves Alliwegis or Heries.  The  Iroquois called them Erielhonan, Awenrehronon, Rhilerrhonon, each name meaning “Cat people” They were also sometimes calld Yenresh(panther people) a name they shared with the Neutrals. The French called them the Nation du Chat.They were known for their fighting prowess and building mounds.

When I first heard of the Eries The information indicated they were related to the Iroquois. Further research turned up that they are actually descended from the Mississippian Mound builders. Unfortunately much of their mounds been destroyed, often unknowingly, but more often deliberately, by others.

Culturally, the Eries lived much like the Iroquois, in agricultural communities and permanent settlements. According to the Iroquois they used poison arrows and were powerful warriors.

The Eries and the Iroquois were traditional enemies, fighting over land and such. It was the search for beaver pelts that brought their warring to a head.Despite that the Iroquois still admired their skill in battle.  This skill is probably why the Iroquois Confederacy did their best to limit access of the Eries to firearms.  This helped in nearly causing the Extinction of the Eries, an event triggered by the Huron and Neutrals fleeing to the EriesAnd the refusal of the Erie to give them up.  The Federation attacked and drove off, enslaved or flat out killed them in retaliation

SOurces: Erie Indian Moundbuilders

If you have any info on this tribe, feel free to share. I can’t find much of anything on their lore.


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