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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


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.

Fort Sites

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Fort Corchaug

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. The interaction between the Corchaug Indians and Eurocpeans (English and Dutch) primarily regarded the manufacturing and trade of Wampum.Fort Corchaug itself was a log fort built by Native Americans with the help of Europeans (by which some suggest the rectangle/square shape is influenced), potentially serving as protection for the Corchaug tribe against other tribes.The site involved possibly repeated seasonal occupation or year-round occupation by a large number of people during the period c. 1630-1660. Significance evidence of food preparation, site defense and a number of activities were uncovered during archaeological study.[1. R. Miller, 1990]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, recognized on January 20th, 1999. 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.]

5I5A4684-300x193 Indian Forts Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Fort Shinnecock

This sacred glacial erratic marks the location of what may have been both the Shinnecock Fort and June Meeting location in the Shinnecock Hills. There have been many references to a contact-period Shinnecock fort, but the specific location has likely been disrupted by development.June Meeting is a Presbyterian and Algonquian inspired celebration and gathering for Eastern Long Island tribes started by Reverend John Cuffee in the 1700s and continued annually on the first Sunday in June. It's a time of dance, feasts and the passing down of stories and traditions. The Unkechaug tribe continue this traditional seasonal celebration in the western town of Mastic.According to Shinnecock oral history, this site, similar to other council rocks, were the places for indigenous leaders to gather for important meetings.Today, this land is located off of the current bounds of the Shinnecock reservation. The town of Southampton bought and preserved the area using it's Community Preservation Fund for it's cultural significance.

  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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