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Kurt Jordan

Kurt Jordan

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University

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Archaeology provides a perspective on Postcolumbian indigenous lives that both supplements and challenges document-based histories. My research centers on the archaeology of Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois) peoples, emphasizing the settlement patterns, housing, and political economy of seventeenth- and eighteenth- century Onöndowa’ga:’ (Seneca) people. The empirical evidence provided by archaeology can do much to combat inaccurate narratives of Indigenous decline and powerlessness that pervade scholarly and popular writing about Indigenous North Americans. For example, fieldwork at the 1715-1754 Onöndowa’ga:’ Townley-Read site near Geneva, New York, recovered data indicating substantial Onöndowa’ga:’ autonomy, selectivity, innovation, and opportunism in an era usually considered to be one of cultural disintegration.

I am currently leading a research project focusing on domestic areas at the 1688-1715 Onöndowa’ga:’ town at White Springs, also located near Geneva, New York, and the predecessor to the Townley-Read site. Excavation, geophysical survey, and surface collections, conducted in collaboration with representatives of the Onöndowa’ga:’ descendant community, took place in 2007-2015.  The project is currently at the cataloging, analysis, and writing stage.

I teach courses providing general introductions to North American Indigenous Studies and the archaeology of Indigenous North America, and more advanced courses on archaeological theory, colonialism and cultural entanglement, and political economy in archaeology.  I also offer hands-on training courses in archaeological excavation and laboratory analysis that tap into the rich archaeological resources of the Finger Lakes region.

I have a great interest in the long-term scope of Indigenous archaeology and history in Central New York.  I have taught classes on Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ (Cayuga) history and assisted with a Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ language class.  In 2022, I published a brief history of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ people in the Cayuga Lake basin. I have delivered public talks on the archaeology of the region to audiences in Bath, Canandaigua, Geneva, Ithaca, Liverpool, Lodi, McLean, Montezuma, Montour Falls, Port Byron, Salamanca, Tyrone, Trumansburg, and Waverly.