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Indian Forts

Fort-Illustration-from-Gaynell-stone-thematic-map-2 Indian Forts Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Contact Period Fort Corchaug near Cutchoge, other forts were at Shelter Island, Montauk, Napeague, Massapequa and Shinnecock. Illustration from Gaynell Stone’s Indian Place Names Thematic Map, 1991

Introduction

For some time, according to John Strong, it has been known that Indians on Long Island built palisaded forts to protect themselves from other tribes. It is believed the forts were occupied from around 1000 A.D. to about 1640, the year the English landed in large numbers on the East End. 1

During the mid-17th century Contact period, the construction by the Native people of a series of “fortified places” continued due to increasing interaction with the ever-encroaching traders and settlers. Again, it is mainly the archaeological record that reveals the shape (based on European models), size, siting, and use of these forts — some more for trade, others more for defense.

Long Island had more Contact period Native forts than any other area of the country. Extensive research has been compiled by Dr. Gaynell Stone in her 2006 Vol. VIII, The Native Forts of the Long Island Sound Area.

Archaeological Sites

fort-corchaug-300x161 Indian Forts Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Fort Corchaug Site

The Fort Corchaug Site is an archaeological site showing evidence of 17th-century contact between Native Americans and Europeans, categorizing it as a post-contact site. Fort Corchaug itself was a log fort built by Native Americans with the help of Europeans, potentially serving as protection for the Corchaug tribe against other tribes.Archaeologist Ralph Solecki described Fort Corchaug in 1992 as the best preserved historic Indian site on the eastern seaboard. At the time, the site had never been cultivated or disturbed in its 340-year-old history. He believed it was the last historic remnant of the Corchaug Indians on eastern Long Island, and the best preserved of the forts linking the confederacy of the north and south fork Indians [1. Solecki, Ralph Stefen. Letter to Ronnie Wacker. 13 Nov. 1992. MS. N.p.]Today Fort Corchaug is a National Historic Landmark. Located on Downs Farm Preserve, which preserves 51 acres of scenic woodlands and tidal wetlands, serving as a valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife. [1. http://www.groupfortheeastend.org/what-we-do/education/downs-farm-preserve-nature-center/]

  1.  Wick, S. (1990, June 8). Shinnecock Discovery – Remains of village, fort may be 1,000 years old. Newsday. pp. 3

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