Winchester is an independent city located in the northwestern portion of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the USA. The city's population was 26,203 according to the 2010 Census. Winchester is the county seat of Frederick County and the principal city of the Winchester, Virginia-West Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a part of the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV Combined Statistical Area. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Winchester with surrounding Frederick County for statistical purposes. Winchester is home to Shenandoah University and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.
Indigenous peoples of various cultures lived along the waterways of present-day Virginia for thousands of years before European contact. Archeological, linguistic and anthropological studies have provided insights into their civilizations. Though little is known of specific tribal movements prior to European contact, the Shenandoah Valley area, considered a sacred common hunting ground, appears by the 17th century to have been controlled mostly by the local Iroquoian-speaking groups, including the Senedo and Sherando.
The Algonquian-speaking Shawnee began to challenge the Iroquoians for the hunting grounds later in that century. The explorers Batts and Fallam in 1671 reported the Shawnee were contesting with the Iroquoians for control of the valley and were losing. During the later Beaver Wars, the powerful Iroquois Confederacy from New York (particularly Seneca from the western part of the territory) subjugated all tribes in the frontier region west of the Fall Line. Over the years between 1670 and 1712, the Seneca were more active to the southwest as far southward as present-day North Carolina while the Mohawk extended their power north to Montreal and the St. Lawrence River valley. By right of conquest, the Iroquois (especially the Seneca) claimed the Ohio Valley as their hunting ground. In the early 18th century, the Iroquoian Tuscarora migrated to New York away from warfare in North and South Carolina; in 1722 they were accepted by the Iroquois as the Sixth Nation of the Haudenosaunee.