Wednesday, August 10, 2005

NYC Native American Homes-Canarsee

Part 2 of NYC Native History:"The Iroquois, although war-like and fierce, farmed for food rather than hunt. They lived in longhouses made of wooden poles with round tops, typically twenty (20) feet wide and one hundred and fifty (150) feet long. Many families lived in one longhouse. These homes, like the homes of the Algonquin, were surrounded by stockade fences for protection..During the sixteen and seventeen hundreds (1600/1700), the Mohawk of the Iroquois Nation and the Mohican of the Algonquin Nation were constantly at war in New York. The Mohawk, which means "Savage Fighter" or "Man Eater", eventually defeated the Mohicans. This fighting later served as the background for many of the famous novels by James Fenimore Cooper, such as "The Last of the Mohicans."
The thirteen (13) tribes of Long Island were similar to the Mohicans in their life styles. They called Long Island "Seaawanhacy" (or Land of Shells). The tribe that lived on the western-most part of the Island was the "Canarsee" whose territory extended over most of Kings County and parts of Jamaica. There are several theories which suggest how the Indians obtained the name "Canarsee." One theory was that the Indians often took the names of animals, birds, or natural objects. Because of Jamaica Bay and other water inlets and passages, the marshland was always filled with ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeons, venison, and clams. With the coming of the French trappers, hunters, and fur traders, the word "Canarde" meaning "duck" was used to describe the land. It is therefore believed that the name "Canarsee" came from the French work "canarde."A second theory was that the Algonquin Indians placed fences or stockades around their wigwams for protection. The word Canarsee means "fence" or "fort." A third theory suggest that the Dutch were excellent gardeners who grew beautiful plants, shrubs, and flowers. To protect them, hedges or fences ere placed around the gardens. The word Canarsie also means "hedge." Therefore, this community of "fenced land" or "hedges" was called Canarsie. Here's a slide show about the Canarsee Indians

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