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Northeast Historical Archaeology

Authors

Paul R. Huey

Abstract

Documentary research calls attention to the historical and archaeological significance of an area that once consisted of three separate islands on the east side of the Hudson River below Albany. The area, called "Schodack," included the traditional council fire of the Mahican Indians. The history of these islands can be traced from 1609, when Hudson's ship, the Half Moon, anchored near them through the colonial period. Despite extensive purchases of land by the Dutch elsewhere on both sides of the river soon after 1630, the Mahican Indian owners and occupants of these fertile islands resisted selling them to the acquisitive Dutch until a period of crisis after 1660. Although a Mahican village continued to exist on the islands until the mid-18th century, the Mahicans were gradually dispersed through the combined effects of colonial wars and activities of land speculators and farmers, colonial officials, and missionaries. The islands currently are owned and protected as an undeveloped state park by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Deep deposits of river dredging spoil today cover the islands and hide the Mahican and colonial sites from archaeologists, but have also effectively protected them from vandals. Many questions about the Mahican and colonial European occupation of the islands remain that can be answered only through future archaeological efforts.

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