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Dan Weiskotten's Iroquois Writings:
Posted by Daniel H. Weiskotten      Updated May 30, 2000
other papers are listed on my CV

 

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        For many years I have been a "student" of Iroquois culture.  Since childhood I have been fascinated with the Iroquois and their archaeology, history, and ethnology.  I have worked with some of the best and part of my MA degree is in Northeast/Iroquois studies.  I first dug (pot holing back then) on several local prehistoric Onondaga and Oneida Iroquois village sites with my Father, Herm "Bud" Weiskotten, who had been encouraged into the field by friends such as Jim Bradley, Peter Pratt, Stan Gibson, Ted Whitney, Gordon DeAngelo, and Dick Hosbach.  When my Dad passed away in 1977 I turned my attentions to local history, but could not escape the draw that Iroquoian research held on me.  In 1985 I once again crossed paths with many of the above friends who were busy excavating the Diable Site, a "protohistoric" (European artifacts but no contact) Oneida village site in central Madison County.  Over the next five years, in between working at Lorenzo and doing odd jobs, I spent my spare time rushing out tot he site to excavate the palisade and map the village.  In doing all of this work my attention was again shifted to Iroquois studies.
        In 1987 I enrolled at Morrisville College and began a six year venture into academia and the more formal study of history and prehistory and where I took every advantage to write and research about the Iroquois.  My course work ended in 1993 (with twice as many credits as I needed) but my Research Paper was not finalized until 1997  This paper, "Patterns of Iroquois Burial," was the last of many papers that I wrote, good and bad, which were based on my many years of experience and research.
        Since school, though, I have done very little work on my Iroquoian interests.  At the Public Archaeology Facility at Binghamton University I did get the opportunity to excavate a small remote Cayuga Iroquois camp in Tompkins County, but besides that I have done very little else in the way of Iroquoian research.  I still dabble with my past work and have occasionally provided information to other researchers, but have given up hopes of following it more full-time.  I still have plans to complete the analysis of the Diable findings and I feel that until that time it is not right for me to go on to other projects.
 

Patterns of Iroquois Burial  The mortuary behavior of the prehistoric and early historic Five Nations Iroquois (of New York State) is based on a model derived from data recovered from the excavation of several thousand Seneca burials.  The other nations of the Iroquois League (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga) also buried their dead in a similar fashion, but ... there are no where near as many burials known for the other nations.  I hypothesize that the Seneca Model, while correlating well with what data is available, is not suitable for the other nations simply because few burials have ever been found in association with the habitation sites of the other nations.  Some other form of burial practice seems to have taken place which differentiates their behavior from that of the Senecas.

A Critique of Oneida Iroquois Archaeology  Studying the distribution of sites in Chenango and Madison counties, I wonder if the origins of the Oneidas could not be traced back further in time.  More work needs to be done on the Cazenovia area sites to confirm their suspected relationship to the later Oneida sites.  Although a relationship between the Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk Iroquois is shown in the models of evolution derived from the ceramic and linguistic studies, the same relationships are not evident in the archaeological record as presently interpreted. We are being held back in our work by three major models that do not agree with each other, as well as a mistaken "similarity" in burial patterns.  We must achieve some high degree of agreement between the models if we are to be successful in our interpretations of Iroquois prehistory.

Why Owahgena?  Cazenovia Lake has an ancient name and we tend to accept its form and meaning without much challenge. I had thought little on the matter of the origin and authenticity of the name "Owahgena" and its translation as "Lake of the Yellow Perch" until I came across a reference to the lake that predated the settlement of the village by John Lincklaen and his contemporaries.  This was published in the Cazenovia Republican during Cazenovia's Bicentennial back in July of 1993.

The Real Battle of Nichols Pond  Traditionalist Local Historians have long claimed that Nichols Pond, a small swamp high in the hills of the Town of Fenner, Madison County, was the location of an Onondaga Indian village that was attacked by Samuel de Champlain in 1615.  Despite decades of archaeological research that has entirely disproved this fallacy historical markers still point the way to the spot.  The site, still maintained as a County Park commemorating the Champlain raid, was actually a prehistoric Oneida Iroquois Village.  Various lines of evidence and reasoning have been used by both sides in the real "Battle of Nichols Pond."

A Brief Prehistory of Cazenovia and Vicinity  Cazenovia is situated between the traditional homelands of the Onondaga and Oneida Iroquois.  In the Pompey Hollow just to the west are important Onondaga village sites and just to the northeast are village sites of the early Oneida.  Artifacts of all time periods (except the very earliest - paleo) have been found in Cazenovia and this informal paper examines the occupation of the are in the days before white folks came in and claimed the land as their own.  The settlement patterns, food resources, use of Cazenovia Lake, and land claims are discussed.  This paper gives a good idea of the "pre-Lincklaen" or pre-1793 occupation of the area.