Ganondagan State Historic Site, located in Victor, NY, is the former site of Gannagaro, a Seneca Village of some 4500 people. The Seneca people lived in 150 longhouses with several families of the same matriarchal clan residing together within the same dwelling. They were part of the Iroquois Confederacy of New York State, or Haudenosaunee (pronounced Ho-dee-no-SAW-nee, also Ho-dee-no-Shaw-nee), as they referred to themselves.
Gannagaro, its dwellings, crops and grain supply were destroyed in 1687 when the French swept down from Canada, attacking the village in an attempt to control the fur trade.
Today, Gannagaro has been renamed Ganondagan, or “Town of Peace” (literally, “Town of White,” white meaning “Peace” in Seneca tradition). The State Historic Site rests on the crest of a hill, surrounded by 500+ acres of land across which three different trails wind. The Earth is Our Mother Trail introduces visitors to the plants central to Seneca culture. The Granary Trail takes visitors to the site of a fortified area which once held enough grain to carry the Iroquois Confederacy through many poor harvests. The Trail of Peace shares the history of the Seneca people. These trails are free to use and open year ’round from 8 a.m. to sunset, weather permitting. Guided trail tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays at Noon and 2 p.m.
A remarkable attraction on the site is the handcrafted replica of a 17th Century bark longhouse, showcasing authentic Seneca artifacts. A tour by one of Ganondagan’s expert site interpreters brings history to life for children and adults, because the interpreters explain how the items were used and what daily life was like in that time. My daughters did the tour with their 4th grade class this year and when I asked about their classes’ reaction, they said, “We thought it was AWESOME.”
Today, Ganondagan is the only site in New York State, and the sole National Landmark east of the Mississippi dedicated to Native Americans. It was also designated as a national treasure during the “Save America’s Treasures” U.S. Presidential Tour.
Ganondagan State Historic Site and its Visitors Center will open Friday, May 1st, and tours are offered daily Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through September 30th. During October, it will be open Tuesday through Saturday.
Admission: $3.00 per adult, $2.00 per child for interpretation of the Visitor Center, Bark Longhouse, and trails. Free for Friends of Ganondagan Members.
Ganondagan State Historic Site is located at 1488 State Route 444, Victor, NY.
Watch for our next post on Ganondagan’s “Savor the Summer Series” offering recreational opportunities focused on Seneca culture, lore and history.
Photos courtesy Ganondagan State Historic Site.