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Ganondagan State Historic Site

Ganondagan is a link to early Native American culture and history.

In the battle's aftermath, Ganondagan went into a 300-year decline.

by Joan Merkel Smith

"Skano?" Or, in Iroquois slang, "How goes it? What's up?" Just what is up at Ganondagan State Historic Site high on Boughton Hill in Victor, Ontario County, depends on your interests.

Are you a history buff? Then Ganondagan is the place for learning Seneca history and that of the Iroquois Confederacy.
Is visiting historic battle sites your hobby? Then Ganondagan's Fort Hill, or Gah-a-yan-duk as the Seneca call it, is the place to relive the 1687 French attack on the prosperous 17th century Seneca town.

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 hour.
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.

The 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.
·Trails 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, Salamanca, 716-945-1790

Joan Merkel Smith is a freelance writer who also publishes in Balloon Life, Charleston Magazine and the Sandlapper.

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