Kurt A. Jordan



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. 

Research Focus

Research Interests:  Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Archaeology and History; Historical Archaeology of Indigenous Peoples; Political Economy; Colonialism, Cultural Entanglement, and Indigenous Autonomy; Relations between Archaeologists and Indigenous Communities; Shell Bead Wampum; Red Pipestone and Red Slate




2022    The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ People in the Cayuga Lake Region: A Brief History. Ithaca, NY: Tompkins County Historical Commission Publication 5.

2008     The Seneca Restoration, 1715-1754: An Iroquois Local Political Economy .  Gainesville: University Press of Florida and the Society for Historical Archaeology.  Paperback edition issued February 2011.

Co-Authored Book:

Warren Allmon, Marvin Pritts, Peter Marks, Blake Epstein, David Bullis, and Kurt Jordan
2021    Smith Woods: The Environmental History of an Old Growth Forest Remnant in Central New York State. Second edition. Ithaca: Paleontological Research Institution Special Publication No. 59. First edition published in 2017.

Selected Articles:

2022     Small and Under-recorded Sites as Evidence for Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ (Cayuga) and Onöndowa'ga:' (Seneca) Regional Settlement Expansion, circa 1640-1690. In Tsim D. Schneider and Lee M. Panich, editors: Archaeologies of Indigenous Presence. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, pages 242-264.

2018    From Nucleated Villages to Dispersed Networks: Transformations in Seneca Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Community Structure, circa AD 1669-1779. In Jennifer Birch and Victor D. Thompson, editors: The Archaeology of Villages in Eastern North America.  Gainesville: University of Florida Press, pages 174-191.

2018   Markers of Difference or Makers of Difference? Atypical Practices at Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Satellite Sites, ca. 1650-1700. Historical Archaeology 52(1):12-29.

2016    Categories in Motion: Emerging Perspectives in the Archaeology of Postcolumbian Indigenous Communities.  Historical Archaeology 50(3):62-80.

2014     Enacting Gender and Kinship around a Large Outdoor Firepit at the Seneca Iroquois Townley-Read Site, 1715-1754.  Historical Archaeology 48(2): 61-90.

2014     Pruning Colonialism: Vantage Point, Local Political Economy, and Cultural Entanglement in the Archaeology of post-1415 Indigenous Peoples.  In Neal Ferris, Rodney Harrison, and Michael V. Wilcox, editors: Rethinking Colonial Pasts through Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pages 103-120.

2013     Incorporation and Colonization: Postcolumbian Iroquois Satellite Communities and Processes of Indigenous Autonomy.  American Anthropologist 115(1): 29-43.

2010     Not Just "One Site Against the World": Seneca Iroquois Intercommunity Connections and Autonomy, 1550-1779.  In Laura L. Scheiber and Mark D. Mitchell, editors: Across a Great Divide: Continuity and Change in Native North American Societies, 1400-1900 .  Tucson: University of Arizona Press, pages 79-106.  

2009     Colonies, Colonialism and Cultural Entanglement: The Archaeology of Postcolumbian Intercultural Relations.  In Teresita Majewski and David Gaimster, editors: International Handbook of Historical Archaeology .  New York: Springer, pages 31-49.

2009     Regional Diversity and Colonialism in Eighteenth Century Iroquoia.  In Laurie E. Miroff and Timothy D. Knapp, editors: Iroquoian Archaeology and Analytic Scale . Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, pages 215-230.

Selected Co-authored Articles: 

Kurt A. Jordan and Peregrine A. Gerard-Little
2019    Neither Contact nor Colonial: Seneca Iroquois Local Political Economies, 1670-1754. In Heather Law Pezzarossi and Russell N. Sheptak, editors: Indigenous Persistence in the Colonized Americas:  Material and Documentary Perspectives on Entanglement.  Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, pages 39-56.

Peregrine A. Gerard-Little, Amanda K. Moutner, Kurt A. Jordan, and Michael B. Rogers
2016    The Production of Affluence in Central New York:  The Archaeology and History of Geneva’s White Springs Manor, 1806-1951.  Historical Archaeology 50(4): 36-64.

Peregrine A. Gerard-Little, Michael B. Rogers, and Kurt A. Jordan
2012     Understanding the Built Environment at the Seneca Iroquois White Springs Site using Large-scale, Multi-instrument Archaeogeophysical Surveys.  Journal of Archaeological Science 39(7): 2042-2048.

Christopher N. Matthews and Kurt A. Jordan
2011     Secularism as Ideology: Exploring Assumptions of Cultural Equivalence in Museum Repatriation.  In Reinhard Bernbeck and Randall H. McGuire, editors: Ideologies in Archaeology .  Tucson: University of Arizona Press, pages 212-232.

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