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Featured Faculty Research: Kurt Jordan

January 26, 2016

Archaeologist Kurt Jordan (an Associate Professor jointly appointed in American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program) has researched 17th and 18th century Seneca Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities in collaboration with Haudenosaunee people since 1999.  His current project investigates the circa 1688-1715 Seneca town at the White Springs site, located near Geneva, New York.  Archaeology survey, geophysical work, and domestic-context excavations have taken place at the site since 2007.  The goals of the project have been to understand the spatial layout of the site, including the overall size of the town and what sorts of fortifications and house forms were used; to excavate plant and animal remains to understand subsistence and the surrounding environment; and to recover a sample of artifacts to understand trade relations and labor practices. The empirical evidence provided by archaeology can do much to combat the inaccurate narratives of Native American decline and powerlessness that pervade scholarly and popular writing.  Data from Jordan's excavations at White Springs and at the 1715-1754 Townley-Read site indicate substantial Seneca autonomy, selectivity, and opportunism during the 1688-1754 era. 


Cornell's American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program has provided full-tuition scholarships for Native students to attend summer excavations at White Springs since 2007 with the goal of building archaeological capacity among Native communities.  To date, nine undergraduate and nine post-graduate students have received support.  The collaborative nature of the project will extend beyond fieldwork to analysis and writing. Results from the White Springs project will be published as a multi-author, multivocal book that will include the perspectives of indigenous academics, Seneca community authorities, and archaeological specialists.  


Professor Jordan also maintains an interest in the long-term scope of indigenous archaeology in Central New York.  He has delivered public talks on the archaeology of the region to audiences in Bath, Canandaigua, Geneva, Ithaca, Liverpool, Lodi, McLean, Montour Falls, Tyrone, Trumansburg, and Waverly. 

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