Camillus is situated upon lands that originally were the home of the Haudenosaunee (pronounced hoe-dee-no-SHOW-nee) Confederacy of indigenous peoples. These native Americans were called the Iroquois Confederacy by the French and the League of Five Nations by the English, however, the alliance is properly called the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, meaning People of the Long House. One of the five nations that comprised the Haudenosaunee, the Onondaga (the People of the Hills) lived on the Central New York lands that later became part of the Town of Camillus. The Onondaga were the Keepers of the Fire in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, as they lived in what was regarded as the capital of the Confederacy. Together with the Cayuga and Seneca Nations to the west and the Oneida and Mohawk Nations to the east, the Onondaga convened Grand Council meetings, which still take place today within present-day Ononodaga County, near Camillus.
Often described as the oldest, participatory democracy in existence, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s constitution is believed to have served as a model for the United States Constitution. Its unique system of government blends law with foundational values. For the Haudenosaunee, law, society and nature are equal pillars of their culture, each playing a vital role in their community.