ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A national archaeology preservation group has bought two former Cayuga Indian village sites in New York's Finger Lakes region as part of the organization's ongoing effort to protect historical sites linked to the Iroquois.
Andy Stout, eastern regional director for the Archaeological Conservancy, told The Associated Press that the sites are on private land just a few miles apart amid farmland in the Finger Lakes community of Trumansburg, 45 miles southwest of Syracuse. The larger of the two properties contains evidence of a palisaded Cayuga village that occupied the site in the mid-16th century, and the other site also was home to a Cayuga village during the same period, he said.
"It's a great situation," Stout said. "Both sites had previous professional archaeological work done on them, so we had a good idea what was there. And they're both owned by property owners who really appreciate the historical values of the sites."
The group completed the purchases Monday, he said.
The larger property, a 34-acre parcel known as the Indian Fort Road site, had been known to scholars since the late 19th century. Cornell University researchers who excavated the site in the mid-1990s found evidence of a palisade under the property's distinctive earthworks, indicating the village may have been fortified during a period of intertribal warfare between members of the Iroquois Confederacy and other Eastern Woodland tribes.
"There aren't a lot of (Iroquois) sites in New York state that have intact earthen features," Stout said. "This site does."
The other nearby property, known as the Carman site, is believed to date back to the late 1500s. Archaeologists from the University of Pittsburgh have conducted several excavations at the site since the 1990s, uncovering evidence of the longhouses the Cayugas lived in. The work has uncovered the remnants of a culture that today's Cayugas still relate to, said Kathleen Allen, the University of Pittsburgh anthropologist who has led the digs at the Carman site.
"It helps tie them into their past and their landscape in a real physical as well as an emotional sense," she said.
Both properties are near the southwest shore of Cayuga Lake, in a region that was home to the Cayuga tribe of what was then the Five Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Cayugas were mostly concentrated in an area between Seneca and Cayuga lakes in what is now Seneca, Schuyler, Tompkins and Cayuga counties.
The Albuquerque, N.M.-based Archaeological Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that acquires and preserves archaeological sites in the United States. The organization has acquired more than 400 endangered sites in 41 states since its founding in 1980.
Eleven of the organization's 16 properties in New York state will be Iroquois-related after Monday's acquisitions, Stout said. The group hopes to close on a deal this week to acquire another Iroquois site, this one near Buffalo, he said.
Known as the Newtown-Hopper site, the 22-acre property in the town of Elma was home to a village inhabited by the Neutral and Erie tribes prior to 1600, and later by the Senecas in the 18th century, according to the conservancy.
The Archaeological Conservancy's other New York acquisitions include a wooded hill overlooking the upper Hudson River outside Fort Edward. The property in the neighboring town of Moreau was the site of a French and Indian War fortification known as the Royal Blockhouse. The group bought the 12-acre site last December.