Oneida Indian Nation Ancestor Polly Cooper Recognized by U.S. Senate As Part of Women’s History Month

Oneida Indian Nation Homelands (March 22, 2024) – In honor of Women’s History month, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution this week recognizing the notable achievements of Alaska Native, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian women have made throughout the country’s history, including Oneida ancestor Polly Cooper.

Polly Cooper walked hundreds of miles from Upstate New York to Valley Forge through the bitter cold winter, part of a relief mission organized by Oneida  Chief Shenendoah. Cooper and the Oneidas brought hundreds of bushels of white corn to feed Gen. George Washington’s starving troops. Cooper taught the soldiers how to cook the corn and stayed on to help after the others departed for their homeland. After the war, the Colonial of the Army tried to pay Polly Cooper for her service, but she refused, stating that it was her duty to help friends in their time of need. However, she did accept a token of appreciation from Martha Washington – a shawl and bonnet, handed down and cared for by successive descendants of Polly Cooper.

“We commend Senators Lisa Murkowski and Brian Schatz, Vice Chairman and Chairman and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the entire U.S. Senate  for unanimously passing a resolution honoring Oneida ancestor Polly Cooper and other important historic indigenous women,” said Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative. “Polly Cooper’s sacrifices and courage during the Revolutionary War played a crucial role in the founding of our country, and we are grateful that the U.S. Senate recognized these historic contributions.”

The Oneida Indian Nation’s legacy of being America’s First Allies and support of the U.S. military began with the Revolutionary War, when Oneidas fought alongside the colonists in the battle against the British. Since the American Revolution, Oneidas have fought in every American military conflict, memorializing their longstanding support, friendship and reverence for the United States and the values it holds.