Do you like to picnic? Or just to
walk? Both can be done on the site's 277 acres that include three walking trails.
The Earth Is Our Mother Trail winds down and through a landscape rich in the plants,
trees and shrubs used by the Seneca for their everyday necessities. Walking it
and reading the illustrated signs giving botanical information takes about an
The places I've mentioned so far actually get some traffic, though not
nearly as much as you'd think. If it's emptiness you're after, try Swift Hill
or Palmer's Pond in Allegany County. Guaranteed, your only companions up there
will be deer, turkeys, raccoons, and an occasional lonesome bear.
Trail of Peace is a shorter walk, taking 20-25 minutes. Along this trail the illustrated
signs depict Seneca oral tradition.
It takes 30 minutes to walk the
Granary Trail where signs detail the 1687 battle, a French effort, under the command
of the Marquis de Denonville, to destroy the Seneca. In the battle's aftermath,
Ganondagan went into a 300-year decline.
In the 1700s the rush of European
settlers into the area turned the site into fields and pastures. In the 1880s,
Boughton Hill (the non-Indian name for Ganondagan) was a favorite spot for picnicking.
It still is-on a carry-in, carry-out basis.
While you walk or picnic,
you will see Ganondagan as a link to early Native American culture and history.
Yet, you don't have to be a history fan to experience Ganondagan. According
to Leigh Jones, site education person, visitors often tell her they enjoy Ganondagan
because "it is a contemplative place."
If you go: Ganondagan
State Historic Site, 1488 Victor-Holcomb Road, Victor. 585-924-5848.
open year round, 8 a.m. to sunset, weather permitting. Visitor Center open 10
a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m., Sundays, mid-May through October.
Group tours are available by reservation two weeks in advance.
Other Native American Sites
·Sainte Marie Among the Iroquois
Museum, Liverpool, N.Y., 315-453-6767
·Seneca-Iroquois National Museum,
Joan Merkel Smith is a freelance writer who
also publishes in Balloon Life, Charleston Magazine and the Sandlapper.