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Kurt Jordan

Prof. Kurt Jordan

Associate Professor, Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program

210 McGraw Hall
(607) 255-3109

Dr. Jordan's research centers on the archaeology of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) peoples, emphasizing the settlement patterns, housing, and political economy of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Senecas. The empirical evidence provided by archaeology can do much to combat inaccurate narratives of Indian decline and powerlessness that pervade scholarly and popular writing about Native Americans. For example, fieldwork at the 1715-1754 Seneca Townley-Read site near Geneva, New York, recovered data indicating substantial Seneca autonomy, selectivity, innovation, and opportunism in an era usually considered to be one of cultural disintegration.

Dr. Jordan’s current project centers on the circa 1688-1715 Seneca White Springs site, also near present-day Geneva, New York.  This site was founded in the aftermath of the 1687 French-led Denonville invasion of Seneca territory that resulted in the burning of all the major Seneca settlements in the homeland, including Ganondagan (now Ganondagan State Historic Site).  Archaeological data from White Springs provide direct evidence of Seneca resilience in the face of the Denonville tragedy, and how the community rebuilt and endured a difficult time period.  The selection of the site and the research plan were designed in consultation with representatives of the Seneca Nation.  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. The results from White Springs will be published as a multi-author, multivocal book that will include the perspectives of indigenous academics, Seneca community authorities, and archaeological specialists.  The artifact assemblage excavated at White Springs will be donated to the Seneca Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, New York, for permanent curation. 

Professor Jordan also maintains an interest in the long-term scope of indigenous occupation in what is now 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.