Tag Archives: Archaeology

Mohican, Algonquin Peoples Seminar Seeks Presentations

algonquin peoplesThe Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and the New York State Museum invite you to submit a paper or other presentation to be given at the 13th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar held at the New York State Museum in Albany on Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Topics can involve any aspect of Northeastern Native American culture from prehistory to the present. The seminar attracts attendees from Native American enthusiasts, local historians, as well as from academia. In general presentations are allotted 20 minutes speaking time followed by a brief Q &amp- A period. Sessions will be held in the morning and afternoon (between 9:30 AM and 4:00 PM, with a break for lunch). Continue reading

Cayuga Museum Returns Iroquois Sacred Objects

The Cayuga Museum of History and Art, in Auburn, New York, has announced the return of 21 objects of spiritual significance to the custody of the Onondaga Nation. Nineteen masks and two wampum articles associated with burials were transferred from the Museum collection to the Onondaga Nation.

The 1990 Federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) mandates that federally funded museums return Native American “cultural items” to the lineal descendants or culturally-affiliated groups of the people who created them. The cultural objects covered include human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and items of cultural patrimony. Continue reading

Lecture: The Excavations of Fort Orange

Dr. Paul Huey, now retired as archeologist for the New York State Historic Sites system (Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation) who will present a talk on the history of Fort Orange and the excavation in 1970 and 1971 of archeological remains of the fort ahead of the construction of Interstate 787, an event which inspired a revival of interest in the history of Albany in the Dutch period.

Fort Orange was a trading center built by the Dutch West India Company in 1624. The fort was located outside of Beverwijck (present-day Albany), to the south and near the river bank. In 1647, Petrus Stuyvesant, representing the West India Company as director of New Netherland, began to allow private traders to build houses inside the fort. Other traders built houses close to and outside the fort, which Stuyvesant considered to be illegal.

Consequently, Stuyvesant established the settlement of Beverwijck as a town at what he considered a satisfactory distance away from the fort. The fort and all of New Netherland were taken by the English in 1664 during peacetime. The fort was retaken briefly by the Dutch who then returned it to the English, and it was finally abandoned in 1676 by the English. The English then built a new fort on the State Street hill in Albany.

The event is hosted by The Friends of the New York State Library and will take place on September 26 2012 from 12:15pm – 1:15pm at the 7th floor Librarians Room, at the New York State Library, Madison Avenue, Albany, NY. To register for the program, go to: http://www.forms2.nysed.gov/nysl/trngreg.cfm

Illustration: Location of Fort Orange on today’s Albany’s riverfront from Len Tantillo’s Visions of New York State. Digital copy courtesy The People of Colonial Albany Project.

New Yorks NPS Battlefield Grants Announced

New York State battlefield will benefit from some of the more than $1.3 million in National Park Service grants recently awarded to help preserve, protect, document, and interpret America’s significant battlefield lands. The funding from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) will support 27 projects at more than 75 battlefields nationwide.

This year’s grants provide funding for projects at endangered battlefields from the Pequot War, King William’s War, the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World War II and various Indian Wars. Awards were given to projects in 17 states or territories entailing archeology, mapping, cultural resource survey work, documentation, planning, education and interpretation.

The Park Service also announced the award of an additional $1.3 million in grants to help with land acquisition at four Civil War battlefields. Grant projects include fee simple purchases at Averasborough, North Carolina ($103,380)- Bentonville, North Carolina ($60, 380)- Cool Springs, Virginia ($800,000) and Ware Bottom Church, Virginia ($367,263). The grant funds were made available under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-74), which appropriated $8,985,600 for the Civil War battlefield land acquisition grants program.

Federal, state, local and Tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions are eligible for the battlefield grants, which are awarded annually. Since 1996, the ABPP has awarded more than $13 million to help preserve significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil. More information is available online at www.nps.gov/hps/abpp.

New York State Grantees

Natural Heritage Trust (New York) $80,000
Long before the American Revolution, the colonies fought with the British in a series of colonial wars,
including King William’s War and King George’s War. These conflicts, though changing little of the
political landscapes of the time, would have a significant impact on future French and English
relations and the position of American Indians in those relations. Working with its partner, Saratoga
National Historical Park, the Natural Heritage Trust intends to develop a cultural resource inventory
for the overlapping battlefields of these two wars that are near Saratoga. This information is crucial
to developing an archeological research design for each of the battlefields.

The Public Broadcasting Council of Central New York, Inc. (New York) $67,744
In conjunction with the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, Public Broadcasting Council of Central New
York hopes to raise awareness about New York’s unique role in the conflict with a series of
documentaries about the state’s battlefields. The broadcasts will not only be looking at the well
known battlefields of New York, but also several of the lesser known battlefields. It is hoped that
these documentaries will not only educate but also help spur preservation for the War of 1812
battlefields of New York.

The Research Foundation of State University of New York (New York) $56,194
One of only two major engagements of the Revolutionary War’s Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, the
Battle of Chemung was fought two weeks before the better known Battle of Newtown. This ambush
on Continental forces would produce more casualties than Newtown, while the burning of New
Chemung would become an example of how Continental forces would deal with American Indians in
the future. An archeological survey will be used to help better determine the battlefields defining
features as well as assess their condition. This information will be compiled into a GIS map for
support of a future National Register nomination.

Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature (New York) $21,425
The Battles of Saratoga culminated in the fall of 1777 with the surrender of British forces under
General John Burgoyne. This American victory reinvigorated the war effort and is seen as a turning
point in the Revolution. The Saratoga P.L.A.N. looks to interpret the fighting at one of the Saratoga
campaign battles, that of Fish Creek, and wishes to do this with a number of interpretive kiosks.
Working with the National Park Service, the interpretive trail would also integrate with other
interpretive trails in the area.

For a full list of the grantees, click here.

31st Annual Iroquois Indian Festival This Weekend

The 31st Annual Iroquois Indian Festival takes place on Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept 2, at the Iroquois Indian Museum, 324 Caverns Road. For two days, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the Festival features traditional Iroquois music, dance, Native foods and much more. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

This year, Dr. Darryl Tonemah, an award-winning singer/songwriter, will be the featured performer on both days. Tonemah, Kiowa/Comanche/Tuscarora, is a doctor by day and a musician every chance he gets. His music combines the energy of rock, the intelligence of folk, and the heart of country —- creating a musical niche he calls, “Native Americana”. His work, Welcome to Your Rainy Day, won the best Folk Recording in 2007 from the Native American Music Awards.

In addition to Tonemah, the festival also will feature:

· The Sky Dancers of Six Nations. The Sky Dancers are from the Six Nations Reserve in Southern Ontario, along the Grand River. Many of the dancers are members of the Cayuga Nation. The troupe will present traditional Iroquois social dances, the increasingly popular “smoke dance,” and will be inviting audience members to join them on the dance floor.

· Iroquois Social Dances. Social Dances are different from ceremonial or sacred dances. Socials are group dances performed on various occasions, and are meant for everyone. These are the dance traditions of this land, with ties that connect to a dynamic heritage going back more than 10,000 years. Such dances are always performed to music. The musicians create the melodies and rhythms with voice and traditional Iroquois instruments. The dancers perform in stunning hand-made traditional clothing.

· Iroquois Stories. Perry Ground is a Turtle Clan member of the Onondaga Nation who understands the importance of transmitting local knowledge and oral traditions to the next generations. Educating all people on the history, culture and beliefs of the Iroquois is his life’s work. Perry is a teacher and professional storyteller, who has learned many stories as well as storytelling styles

· All-Iroquois Native Art Market. Meet with the Iroquois artists and learn firsthand about their creations. The Market features both contemporary and traditional works. Your purchase of Iroquois art directly supports the efforts of Iroquois artists.

· Archeology and Flint Knapping Station. The Archeology Table will be set up on the on the main floor of the Museum, and staffed by volunteers and members of the Museum’s archeology department. They will help visitors to identify objects they have collected. A flint-knapping demonstration area will be located on the rear deck. Flint knapping is a skill in which a raw piece of flint is chipped to form an arrow point.

· Wildlife Rehabilitation. Local wildlife rehabilitator Kelly Martin cares for injured and orphaned birds of prey and other creatures that are unable to return to the wild. Wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers licensed by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Ms. Martin will display a variety of birds and animals and is available to answer questions and share her experiences.

· Self-Guided Nature Park Tours. Take a self-guided tour through the Museum’s 45-acre Nature Park. Using our informative trail maps and plant signs, learn about native plants and trees and how Iroquois peoples have made use of them for food, utility, and medicine.

Currently on display at the Museum is the exhibition, “Birds and Beasts in Beads: 150 Years of Iroquois Beadwork.” The exhibit features more than 200 beaded objects, largely from the collection of retired archeologist and Museum trustee, Dolores Elliott.

The Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 12 Noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed Monday. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $6.50 for seniors/students and $5 for children ages 5-12. Children under five are free when accompanied by an adult. Special group rates are available by calling the Museum at 518-296-8949.

For more information: contact the Iroquois Indian Museum at (518) 296-8949, info@iroquoismuseum.org or visitwww.iroquoismuseum.org.

Great Lakes Underwater Presents Historic Program

On Saturday, September 8, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and New York Sea Grant will present Great Lakes Underwater at the Clayton Opera House, Clayton, NY. The 12pm-5pm program, co-sponsored by the NOAA National Weather Service, features four distinct speakers focused on history, shipwrecks and innovative technology for boaters.
 

 The event will run 12pm-5pm at the Clayton Opera House, 405 Riverside Drive, Clayton, NY, with vendors, information exhibits and networking time. The September 8 program includes the following presentations:
 
· “Historic Weather Patterns Impact on Lake Ontario Shipwrecks” with National Weather Service Forecaster Robert Hamilton

· “Between Two Nations: The British on Carleton Island (Fort Haldimand) from the American Revolution to the War of 1812” with Douglas J. Pippin, Ph.D., historical archaeology professor at SUNY Oswego

· Underwater explorer Jim Kennard on his “Discovery of the HMS Ontario” using deepwater sonar scanning to find the 80-foot-long, 22-gun sloop-of-war that sunk in 1780 in Lake Ontario on her way to Fort Haldimand

· “The Great Lakes Seaway Trail Blueway Water Trail & Innovations in Technology for Boaters, Canoeists and Kayakers” with New York Sea Grant Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist Dave White. Learn how new and future tools and apps based on the Great Lakes Observing System will benefit water trail users.

This Great Lakes Underwater theme program makes the start of a new Great Lakes Seaway Trail Byway-Blueway Seminar Series. Pre-registration is requested by September 3. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 62 or older and retired military with ID, $5 for children under 14, and free Blue Star admission for active military with ID. Day of the event seating is $15 for any remaining seats. This is a Yellow Ribbon event. For more information and to register, visit www.seawaytrail.com/dive or call 315-646-1000 x203.
Robert “Bob” Hamilton
is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Buffalo, NY. He is noted for presenting his research of the meteorological conditions that have impacted historic events, including shipwrecks. He presented his study of the weather influencing the time of the foundering of the HMS Ontario at the spring 2012 Great Lakes Meteorological Operational Workshop in Chicago.

Douglas J. Pippin is an historical archaeologist who has studied the provisioning and frontier economy of the British military and displaced Loyalists during the American Revolution. He had conducted fieldwork at Fort Haldimand and at Loyalist settlements in the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas. He received his doctoral degree at Syracuse University.

Jim Kennard, known as “the Jacques Cousteau of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail,” has been featured in such publications National Geographic and Sea Technology magazines for the 200-plus rare and historic shipwrecks he has discovered in numerous waters in his 40-year career. The HMS Ontario is considered an “underwater Holy Grail.”

Dave White, a New York Sea Grant recreation and tourism specialist, has created several educational initiatives, including the “Dive the Seaway Trail” project. His Discover Clean & Safe Boating campaign earned White a BoatUS Foundation Environmental Leadership Commendation. This spring, he was among the invitation-only guests at the White House Community Leaders Briefing on the Great Lakes Region.

Photo courtesy Great Lakes Underwater.

Schuylerville Area Gets Battlefield Preservation Grants

The National Park Service has announced the award of two American Battlefield Preservation Program grants totaling over $100,000 to Saratoga P.L.A.N. and National Heritage Trust, for projects in the Schuylerville area. Both organizations are members of the Hudson-Hoosick Partnership and will partner with Saratoga National Historical Park in these projects.

Saratoga PLAN was awarded $21,425 for planning and designing interpretive signs for the Fish Creek Trail, a one-mile trail along the south side of Fish Creek that is part of a six-mile historic loop linking Schuyler House with Victory Woods, the Saratoga Monument and the 71-mile Champlain Canalway Trail slated for completion in 2013. “With the funds, we intend to hire an artist to help us tell the stories of Fish Creek,” said Maria Trabka, Executive Director of Saratoga P.L.A.N., a conservation organization serving Saratoga County. “The site has a long history for fishing, travel, hydropower, and as an American stronghold during the Revolutionary War, when the British were forced to surrender.”Natural Heritage Trust was awarded $80,000 for a study of two colonial era battlefields at Saratoga (present day Schuylerville). As European and Native nations vied for dominance in North America a series of wars were fought between Great Britain, France and their Native allies. During these wars in the 1690s and again in the 1740s a number of battles were fought at Saratoga. This research will shed new light on the significant formative history of Canada and America and the important role of the Schuyler family.

The grants are part of over $4 million that the Partnership has generated for communities along the Hudson River since 2006. The Partnership, founded by Senator Roy McDonald and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, is a legislatively designated public-benefit corporation whose mission is to preserve, enhance and develop the historic, agricultural, scenic, natural and recreational resources and the significant waterways within the Partnership region. The Partnership fosters collaborative projects with
non-profit and governmental entities emphasizing both agricultural and open space protection, economic and tourism development, and the protection and interpretation of the region’s natural and cultural heritage.Photo: Town of Saratoga Historical Marker, Schuylerville. Photo by Bill Coughlin, courtesy the Historical Marker Database

Openings Remain For Ballston Spa Archeology Program

Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, has announced that there are a few spaces left for their upcoming Brookside Digs: An Archeology Experience program.

Individuals age 12 through adult will be able to work beside archeologists from Hartgen Archeological Associates and experience a full excavation- from the research to the digging and cleaning to the artifact analysis. These findings will help clarify Brookside’s past and the artifacts will be added to the museum’s collection. This is a special opportunity to learn about archeology and local history in a very interesting and interactive way.

The camp will run July 30 through August 3, 9am – 3pm and is the perfect program for students, teachers, families and history buffs.  Price is $275 per person. Check online for more information and call (518) 885-4000 or e-mail education@brooksidemuseum.org as soon as possible to register.

Pre-European Agriculture in the Champlain Valley

When I set out to write From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in New York’s Champlain Valley, I became discouraged by the mixed information coming from various authors.

While there is archeological evidence of Native settlements in Plattsburgh at Cumberland Bay, across Lake Champlain in Vermont and along the Hudson River and its tributaries, little information exists for the rest of the Adirondack Coast.

In the following, I will present the information from resource materials so that readers may better understand the conclusions presented in our short history.

The obvious starting place for understanding pre-European life in the Champlain Valley was to explore the journal of Samuel de Champlain, who recorded what he observed of Native life. In “Voyages,” he states:

“I made inquiry of the savages whether these localities were inhabited, when they told me that the Iroquois dwelt there, and that there were beautiful valleys in these places with plains productive in grain, such as I had eaten in this country, together with many kinds of fruit without limit.”

In this context, it is hard to determine what “localities” the Natives are referring to, but if we explore deeper, Champlain states the following after the conflict at Ticonderoga artfully depicted in the image at the top of the page:

“…the raiding party amused themselves plundering Indian corn and meal, which had been raised on the clear ground.”

Therefore, we can determine the Champlain did in fact see native agricultural development in New York’s Champlain Valley. However, if we move forward to 1858, Flavius J. Cook, author of Home Sketches of Essex County, has a very different perspective.

“…Few sounds, save of the warwhoop and of the wild bird and beast- few movements, save of the human or brute forms, crouching, contending, retreating or simply passing by, disturbed the western shore of Champlain in its earliest ruggedness and beauty.”
 

Cook concludes that prior to the European exploration, that the area between Horicon and Lake Champlain was an uninhabited no-man’s land between warring tribes, despite Champlain’s contrary observations. This conclusion was even shared in the 20th century in the Ticonderoga Historical Society’s Patches and Patterns from Its Past (1969).

“For many generations, perhaps centuries, it [Ticonderoga] had been an in-between land, the rich hunting ground of and often the battle ground of the primitive people to the north and south of us. Archeologists hint at very ancient cultures that occupied the Champlain Valley after the last glacier withdrew some twelve to fourteen thousand years ago. The small study that has been made in the field does not seem to point to any particularly heavy population at any time in our ancient past. Here the grinding mass of ice that scooped out or valleys and in its melting heaped up our useful deposits of sand and gravel seem to have been found in slow procession  by mosses, grasses, shrubs and forest, with very little disturbance by homo sapiens except as he came to feast upon the plenitude of fish and game that were to be found here.”

What we can ascertain is the knowledge of agriculture of tribes in the surrounding area. This information is best presented in Peter S. Palmer’s History of Lake Champlain 1609-1814(1886)

The Iroquois were powerful, plitic, warlike and courageous … They lived in villages, around which they had extensive cultivated fields … The Algonquians were a warlike nation and a migratory people, disdaining the cultivation of the soil and depending altogether on the produce of the chase. The Hurons had some slight knowledge of husbandry, but were more effeminate and luxurious than the other tribes, and inferior in savage virtue and independence. They lived in villages, of which the nation possessed twenty, but were inferior in construction and strength to those of the Iroquois.

The conclusion that we draw in From Forest to Fields is that it would be shortsighted to overlook Champlain’s observation of corn and meal grown at Ticonderoga, particularly with the knowledge we have of the Algonquin, Iroquois and Huron tribes living in the surrounding areas. It is much more likely that migratory tribes lived in this area, depending primarily on cultivated wild foods, fish and game. To a much lesser extent, they would grow corn, beans and squash (the Three Sisters) as part of a companion planting system that left them free to pursue their seasonal migration from winter villages to summer camps near the Lake.  Since this is a more “mobile” culture, it would be easy for a tribe to retreat into the forest in instances of impending danger, and for observers to conclude that no Native settlements existed in this area.

Archaeology Theme For Schoharie Crossing Canal Days

Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter (Schoharie County) will be hosting the 28th annual Canal Days Celebration on Saturday, July 14 and on Sunday, July 15, 2012 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission and parking are free.

Canal Days is dedicated to the historical significance of the Erie Canal and its impact on New York State. However, due to damaged caused by last fall’s Tropical Storm Irene and the unearthing of the remains of Fort Hunter for its 300th anniversary, there will be an archaeology theme and a focus on Schoharie Crossing’s earlier 18th century history as well as the 19th century canal history.

The Schoharie Crossing Visitor Center will be open for the duration of the events which includes the “Little Short of Madness” and “Celebrate 300!: Centuries of Fort Hunter History and New Discoveries” exhibits. Michael Roets will be conducting a live archaeological dig throughout the weekend with the ongoing potential of new discoveries. Topics in archaeology will be addressed throughout the weekend with special talks and walking tours in prehistoric, industrial, landscape archaeology and cemetery restoration.

Other history related activities include Joe Doolittle presenting stories about the Mohawk Valley on Saturday, David Cornelius presenting information about Mohawk Lifeways on Sunday and Beverly Cornelius doing basket weaving demonstrations on Sunday. Both days the Circuit Spinsters will be demonstrating fiber arts such as spinning and weaving.

Canal Days 2012 will feature live entertainment on the main stage:

On Saturday, the Veeder Guitar Jazz Duo will perform from 11:00 am to 12:15pm. The Dependants will follow performing from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The Dependants are the hottest young pop/rock band around, having won Montgomery County’s 2010 Battle of Bands. Also all the members are under the age of 19. On Sunday Eric Marczak will perform Native American flute music from 11:00 am to 12:15 pm. Sunday afternoon will feature the bluegrass band Dyer Switch from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Children’s Activities include a petting zoo and pony rides from Dream Pony will be set up both afternoons. Also a Native American Kids Craft tables will feature four different Native crafts for children aged 4 to 13, each craft will be $3.00 from noon to 3pm each day. Sparkles the Clown will be stilt walking and juggling on Saturday. There will be a reptile display and on Sunday magician Evil Dan will be on hand.

Also, the Tri-County Power Association “Field Days” will have Old Time Steam and Gas Engines on display with demonstrations of antique agricultural and household machinery both days. Cheryl Bielli will be available both days to draw caricatures. Food such as hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage, fried dough, fresh squeezed lemonade, and ice cream will be available. There will be a silent auction under the Friends of Schoharie Crossing Tent on Sunday.

Canal Days is sponsored by the Friends of Schoharie Crossing, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors and the Occupancy Tax, and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

For more information about this alcohol free event, call the Visitor Center at (518) 829-7516.

Photo: Schoharie Aqueduct, showing the canalway (Courtesy Wikipedia).