- Corey Village and the Cayuga World: Implications from Archaeology and Beyond by Jack Rossen
IN 1779 GEORGE WASHINGTON ordered a scorched-earth campaign against the Iroquois Confederacy (also known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy) with the intent of total annihilation. He sent almost one-third of the Continental Army into central New York State, and what is called the Sullivan Campaign left the Cayuga Tribe, one of the original five tribes in the Confederacy, with no home territory or resources and a history rewritten. Corey Village and the Cayuga World presents evidence and a view of Cayuga life in the last half of the sixteenth century, just prior to European contact and up to the American Revolution that may help restore the true Cayuga history.
In Corey Village and the Cayuga World, Ithaca College professor Jack Rossen and his students explore two large questions: "Were the Cayuga part of the factions warring against the colonists?" and "Just how old is the Iroquois Confederacy?" They also investigate questions about the sociopolitical and cultural organization and practices of the Cayuga people.
Examination of the Corey Village site along with neighboring village sites overturns the common narrative that these villages were at war against the colonists. The types of artifacts found, overwhelming evidence of a thriving agriculture that also served as an economic resource, the composition of the villages themselves, lack of projectile points, and no fortifications, all indicate that the inhabitants were not living defensively or actively participating in warfare.
Rossen discusses how mounting evidence demonstrates that sites being chosen for villages were proximal to a specific soil type that is rare in the region but extremely fertile and perfect for the agricultural practices of the Cayuga. He points out agricultural lands such as Peachtown, with an orchard of fifteen hundred peach trees (which were not indigenous and had to be introduced and cultivated), were deliberately chosen for specific microclimates suitable for specific crops.
A variety of cultigens such as beans, squash, corn, sunflowers, and gourds (many cultigen seeds present evidence of long-range travel, trade, and exchange), along with the remains of stone hoe blades, offer images of well-tended fields of nutritious crops that not only supplemented foraging [End Page 198] but could have been the primary vegetable resource. Evidence of genetic manipulation is clear in plants like sunflowers that were bred to increase the size of the kernels. This indicates a firm understanding of the principles of how to increase crop yields and adds evidence to other findings of the Cayuga being agrarian people with specific sites dedicated not only to crops but also to the harvesting, processing, economic trade, and celebration of those crops.
Along with his team of field students from Ithaca and Wells Colleges, Rossen implemented what is called "Indigenous archaeology" and worked cooperatively with Cayuga elders, medicine people, and tribal members in 2002 and 2003 to integrate Cayuga cosmological values, political considerations, and oral history into the archaeological examination of Corey Village and neighboring Cayuga village sites located in central New York State.
Corey Village and the Cayuga World focuses on interpreting the implications of the particular types of lithics found, village placements, evidence of occupational specialties, soil types, local flora, and site-specific activities in a more cohesive narrative more closely resembling the actual oral history of the Cayuga people.
In his examination of the types of lithics found at Corey Village, such as nonprojectile points (projectile points are commonly found in great numbers in villages engaging in war), unifacial stone tools such as scrapers, cutting tools, and stone palettes, Rossen suggests they are indicative of specific types of activities related to healing practices. This artifactual evidence at Corey Village, along with an abundant variety of medicinal plants, both indigenous and introduced, gives strong testimony to Corey Village being a "hospital" or "clinic" village dedicated to healing.
Corey Village and the Cayuga World is laid out in a series of essays written by Rossen and eight students. These chapters focus specifically on topics such as describing site locations, comparing the characteristics of...