Ganondagan State Historic Site sits atop Boughton Hill in Victor. It is the original site of the largest 17th century Seneca town, sometimes referred to as Gannagaro, which at its peak had 150 longhouses where only one replica stands today.
The town was destroyed in 1687 by the French, led by Marquis de Denonville during the Beaver Wars, along with Totiakton (near Rochester Junction on Honeoye Creek) and other villages nearby.
Explore the Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan, beautiful walking trails, and enjoy a scenic view all year long. Tour inside the longhouse between May 1 and October 31.
Seneca Art & Cultural Center
There are always activities taking place at the site, especially since the opening of the beautiful Seneca Art & Cultural Center.
This building holds within it the story of the Seneca people and preserves the culture and history for generations to come. They host films, meditation activities, group hikes, storytelling events, and opportunities to learn about planting and caring for the land.
Nothing says it better than the vision statement: “The Friends of Ganondagan, Inc. envision Ganondagan State Historic Site as the internationally recognized resource for Hodinöhsö:ni history, culture and living traditions that express universal ideals of peace cooperation and respect for each other and the natural world.”
Everything you will see and do at Ganondagan is centered around those core values.
Indigenous Music & Arts Festival
Each July, Ganondagan State Historic Site hosts a cultural exhibition for the community to experience and learn about the Seneca people through dance, food, storytelling, and song.
The highlights are the featured artists who come from all over the world to headline the festival. Past years have included Joanne Shenandoah, Gary Farmer, Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman, Keith Secola, Māori dancers, Aztec Dancers, and the Dinah Tah Navajo dancers to name just a few. The focus is primarily on Hodinöhsö:ni culture, with a celebration of all indigenous peoples.
The 2019 festival featured Taiko Drummers, Soh Daiko, and Freightrain, plus the Hodinöhsö:ni’ Juried Art Show, traditional arts demonstrators, storytelling, Native American art market, indigenous food, the Family Discovery Tent, raffles, tours, guided trail walks, and much more!
The Hodinöhsö:ni Longhouse
You surely can’t miss the longhouse on the property, which has an incredible story that speaks directly to the culture and community of the Seneca people in the 1600s.
During the height of American colonization, they also took the idea of the longhouse to extend across New York State and symbolically cover & protect the entire Hodinöhsö:ni (Iroquois) Confederacy.
Hiking trails on the Ganondagan property
Details about trails, tours, and activities can be found on their website. The grounds surrounding the center include two interpretive trails that emphasis the significance of plant life, Haudenosaunee culture and history.
From the website, “The Seneca built a picketed granary atop Fort Hill to protect the two things they valued most: their lives and their corn. The location of Gah:ha-da-yan-duk is significant to the Seneca. From this hill, looking south on a clear day, the observer can see Bare Hill, the legendary birthplace of the Seneca nation.”
More information about Ganondagan State Historic Site
Cost: Depends on event and time of year; check website for specifics. The Seneca Arts & Cultural Center is open Tuesday-Sunday, 9am – 5 pm. Closed mid-Jan through mid-Feb, please call site for details. The Longhouse is open May 1-Oct 31.
Located in Victor, roughly 20 minutes / 20 miles from Rochester (get directions)
More information: ganondagan.org/
According to the New York State Parks website, “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.”
Venture into one of these New York State Parks within a two hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them each unique!
When is your favorite time of year to visit Ganondagan?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!