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Bark Longhouse interior

Seneca Bark Longhouse

Open Seasonally (May - October)

The Seneca Bark Longhouse at Ganondagan provides opportunities to educate visitors about

Haudenosaunee life and culture, both in the 17th century and the present. 


A single Haudenosaunee longhouse was home to several families, all belonging to the same clan. Each longhouse measured approximately 20 feet wide and from 40 to 200 feet long, depending upon the number of families living within it. The interior of the longhouse was divided into sections. Two-tiered bunks lined each wall. The first tier was used as sleeping quarters for one family. The upper tiers were used as storage for that family. Each pair of families shared a central fire.

Bark Longhouse with Gardens

Building Our Bark Longhouse

Framing of bark longhouse as it was constructed
Opening Day of Bark Longhouse at Ganondagan, crowds walking into field to see it

Construction of Ganondagan's longhouse began in the spring of 1997. First, a frame was built. Four large posts were sunk into the ground to serve as sturdy corner posts. Then young elm trees were cut for the frame of the longhouse. Once the frame was completed, strips of elm bark were cut to serve as siding. These bark strips were lashed to the frame using rope made of bark fiber. The only openings in the longhouse were the two doors, one on each end, and the smoke holes in the roof above each of the fires.

The dedication of the long-awaited Seneca Bark Longhouse at Ganondagan State Historic Site took place on July 25, 1998. The Seneca Bark Longhouse represents the return of a traditional Seneca dwelling to a site razed in 1687 by the French Marquis de Denonville. The Longhouse is now furnished as closely as possible to an original 1670 longhouse, complete with replicas of European and colonial trade goods and items created and crafted by the Seneca. Also in the longhouse are crops, herbs, and medicines grown, harvested, and preserved by the Seneca who lived atop the hill at Ganondagan.

The Bark Longhouse as a Symbol

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy was inspired by The Peacemaker's vision of a Great Peace which brought together the formerly warring nations of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk. In 1714, the Tuscarora came from what is now North Carolina to join the Confederacy. The nations agreed to live peacefully under an imaginary longhouse that stretched across New York State from the home of the Senecas, the Keepers of the Western Door, to the home of the Mohawks, the Keepers of the Eastern Door. They would meet in the center of their territory at the home of the Onondagas, Keepers of the Central Fire. The central fire continues to burn today in Onondaga territory.

Map of Haudenosaunee territories in New York in 1600

Map of what would become New York State around 1600 with the territories of each Haudenosaunee Nation. Image credit: National Museum of the American Indian

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