"A Pleasure Garden in the Desert, to Which I Know No Comparison in This Country": Seneca Landscape Stewardship in the 17th and 18th Centuries
Abstract: In this presentation, I discuss my work on the dynamic human-landscape relationship of the eastern Seneca Haudenosaunee community in the 17th and 18th centuries. Through a multiscalar approach that combines archaeological data, textual sources, insights from Haudenosaunee scholars, and geographical information system (GIS) mapping, I examine how Seneca processes of landscape use and modification changed in relation to political/economic circumstances.
Within the context of the 200-year Seneca site sequence, my material analyses focus on identification of archaeologically recovered charcoal from three sites — Ganondagan, White Springs, and Townley-Read — successively occupied by the same community under variable political and economic conditions (ca. 1670–1754 CE). Finding strong evidence for contextually different uses of wood and forms of Seneca landscape stewardship, I conclude that that the Seneca community maintained and recreated culturally meaningful relationships with the landscape through a period of difficulty and change. I will locate this research within the ongoing work of the White Springs Archaeological Project and its efforts to reveal the contours of Seneca daily life at the ca. 1688–1715 town, located near Geneva, NY.