The Cayuga Nation named "People of the Great Swamp" is a member of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois. The Haudenosaunee is an alliance of Native Nations that reside in the state of New York. The Nations that make up this confederacy are the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida  Mohawk and the Tuscarora. The people of the Cayuga Nation have called the land surrounding Cayuga Lake their homeland for hundreds of years. Political relations between the Cayuga, the British, and the Thirteen Colonies during the American Revolution were complicated and variable, with Cayuga warriors fighting on both sides (as well as abstaining from war entirely). Most of the Iroquois nations allied with the British, in part hoping to end encroachment on their lands by colonists. In 1778, various Iroquois bands, oft allied with British-colonial loyalists (Tories) conducted a series of raids along the frontier from Connecticut to New York and into south-central Pennsylvania threatening much of the Susquehanna Valley. From the revolutionary government's point of view in Philadelphia, several of these were atrocities, and in the early summer that body proceeded to order Washington to send regiments to quell these disturbances.

Consequently, in 1779, General George Washington of the Continental Army appointed General John Sullivan and James Clinton to lead the Sullivan Expedition, a retaliatory military campaign designed to unseat the Iroquois Confederacy and prevent the nations from continuing to attack New York militias and the Continental Army. The campaign mobilized 6200 troops and devastated the Cayuga and other Iroquois homelands, destroying 40-50 villages. Those destroyed included major Cayuga villages such as Cayuga Castle and Chonodote (Peachtown). The expedition, with attacks from the spring through the fall, also destroyed the crops and winter stores of the Iroquois, to drive them out of the land. Survivors fled to other Iroquois tribes, or to Upper Canada. Some were granted land there by the British in recognition of their loyalty to the Crown.