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ABOUT GANONDAGAN

Ganondagan Today

“The Seneca Art & Culture Center has taken Ganondagan from a six-month operation to a year-round facility. Our goal is to tell the world that we are not a people in the past tense. We live today. We have adapted to the modern world, but we still maintain our language, ceremonies, land base, government, lineages and culture. When you’re a native person, your story is often told by other people. Here, we tell our own story.”

G. Peter Jemison (Heron Clan, Seneca)
Founding Historic Site Manager, Ganondagan State Historic Site

Ganondagan State Historic Site located in Victor, NY is a National Historic Landmark, the only New York State Historic Site dedicated to a Native American theme (1987), and the only Seneca town developed and interpreted in the United States. Spanning almost 600 acres, Ganondagan (ga·NON·da·gan) is the original site of a 17th century Seneca town, that existed there peacefully more than 350 years ago. The culture, art, agriculture, and government of the Seneca people influenced our modern understanding of equality, democratic government, women’s rights, ecology and natural foods.

Ganondagan’s full-size, Seneca Bark Longhouse (1998) is fully furnished to reflect a typical Seneca family from the late 1600’s, complete with reproductions of 17th century Seneca objects and colonial-era trade goods.

The Seneca Art & Culture Center (2015) at Ganondagan State Historic Site is a 17,300-square-foot center that tells the story of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) contributions to art, culture, and society. Designed to fit into the natural landscape, the center features an interactive, multi-media Exhibit Gallery, including a changing exhibit space, Orientation Theater (featuring the Iroquois Creation Story film), auditorium, and gift shop.

The grounds surrounding the center include two signed interpretive trails that educate visitors about the significance of plant life, Haudenosaunee culture and history. A third trail just a mile away from the center, interprets the history and the importance of Fort Hill, a large palisaded granary.

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Historical Background

In the Seneca language, Ganödagë:n means White Town. In Seneca tradition the color white is linked to the ideas of peace purity and truth. The translation preferred by Seneca today is Town of Peace. Seneca traditionalists connect this town with the life of Jikonhsaseh, the Peace Mother, one of the founders of the Haudenosaunee, or League of the Iroquois. 

 

The Frenchmen who attacked this town in 1687 called it variously Gannagaro, Ganaguiara, Gaensara, and Gazeroare. A Christian Mohawk referred to it as Kohoseraghe. These names are probably Mohawk in origin.

 

In the 1840s, the Tonawanda Seneca knew this site as Gaosaehgaaah (the basswood bark lies there), or Gaosagao (in the basswood country).

 

Under whatever name, this is the site of one of the four principal towns of the Seneca in 1687. As they were known to the French, Totiakton and Gannondata were in the west and Gannagaro and Gannongarae in the east of the Seneca homeland.

Friends of Ganondagan

The Friends of Ganondagan, is a not for profit, 501c. (3) Corporation created in 1989 as a private educational partner to Ganondagan State Historic Site.

Ganondagan State Historic Site 

Ganondagan State Historic Site Manager: Michael Galban (Washoe/Paiute) 

Cultural Liaison:

Ansley Jemison (Seneca, Wolf Clan) 

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