The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin are descendants of an indigenous Iroquoian-speaking nation that arose in present-day central-western New York. They became one of the original Five Nations of the powerful Iroquois Confederacy. Although many Oneida of what was called the Christian Party had allied with the rebels during the American Revolutionary War, afterward the tribe was under pressure to cede lands in New York to the new federal government. Their territory was encroached on by European-American settlers and the people suffered from harassment by settlers who did not distinguish between former allies and enemies (four of the six Iroquois nations had been allied with the British). Many began to relocate from New York in the 1820s and 1830s to Wisconsin, where they were offered land.

By a treaty in 1838, the Oneida accepted a reservation, and chief Patrick James Brault negotiated to ensure that the land was to be held communally by the tribe. Oneida activists from Wisconsin and New York such as Laura Cornelius Kellogg (1880-1947) would make continual efforts to uphold Indian land claims.