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Before Albany: An Archaeology of…

Before Albany: An Archaeology of Native-Dutch Relations in the Capital…

by James W. Bradley

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Well-written history of 17th-century Albany, as told in the archaeological record.

p.191: "By 1689, events in the Albany area were less about specific tribes or ethnic groups and more about the definition of emerging communities. It was no longer a matter of Mahican or Mohawk history, Dutch as opposed to English. Each of these strands was important, but the reality was that they had become so intertwined that it was no longer possible to separate them. Yet it was exactly this collision of cultures that brought about the 'colonial' history we now take for granted. Through all of these convoluted rivalries and alliances, conflicts of values and struggles to maintain tradition, choices were made and new solutions found. These in turn became the raw material from which not just Albany and other new communities form Schenectady to Schaghticoke were built, but the culture of a new country.
" From our perspective, the events of the 17th-century seem not only distant but incredibly confusing. So why look back? Because it is our history and looking back helps to explain who we are as Americans today. Regardless of our personal identities and histories, we live in a country based on shared values, and many of those values grew out of the interactions between Native people and Europeans in the upper Hudson River Valley. We still value hard work and making money. Community remains fundamentally important to us, even if the definition of it continues to change. Tolerance - the need to get along, to live together even when we don't like each other - is still one of our core values. While Arent van Curler and Peter Schuyler might not recognize much of their world in ours, these values would be familiar. And in a country as large and diverse as the United States, these values are not just historical oddities or quaint survivals; they are the glue that holds us together."

At first contact, the Natives literally were stone-age tribes. A trade pot was worth more to them as a source of metal than as a replacement for their ceramic pots.
Fifty years after first contact, the Mohawks' arrowheads were entirely metal.

Random factoids gleaned here:

Van Curler had a Mohawk daughter, before 1650. (With a generational cohort of only a thousand
or so... )
p.37, Explains why I can't find Ft. Nassau: "Unfortunately, no Dutch archaeological sites from this period are known. In fact, only one site ever existed, Fort Nassau on Castle Island, and that location has never been found."

The 17th-c Mohawk villages were all west of the Schoharie. The Pinebush seems to have been (effectively) an uninhabited desert: the settlements in Tawasentha were Mahican.

Pipes were the 17th-c equivalent of cigarette butts. One Amsterdam mfgr had 600,000 of them in inventory when he died.

Schuyler Flats - the farm north of Beverwyck - was originally van Curler's farmstead.

Stuyvesant's 'cannon shot' perimeter for the settlement was 600 paces from the fort.

The town poorhouse - established in the 1650s - was at the east end of the Key Bank site. ( )
1 vote AsYouKnow_Bob | Jul 13, 2008 |
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