North American Indian people living mainly in western New York, U.S. Their language belongs to the Iroquoian linguistic group, and their traditional homeland is western New York and eastern Ohio. They were the largest nation of the Iroquois Confederacy and were known as the Keepers of the Western Door. They call themselves Onondowahgah, meaning People of the Great Hill. The Seneca have eight clans, with clan membership determined through the maternal line. Historically, families linked by maternal kinship lived together in longhouses. Each community had a council of adult males, which guided the village chief. In the autumn small parties would leave the villages for the annual hunt, returning about midwinter; spring was the fishing season. Seneca women cultivated corn and other vegetables. Warfare with other indigenous nations was frequent. In the American Revolution the Seneca were British allies, as a result of which Gen. John Sullivan destroyed their villages in 1779. In 1797 they secured land for 12 reservations in western New York, some of which still exist. Early 21st-century population estimates indicated some 16,000 individuals of Seneca descent. See alsoCornplanter; Ganioda'yo.