Ganondagan: Bridge Between Today and Yesterday

March 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm 1 comment


Tour a real Longhouse right on the grounds

Southeast of Rochester, just south of the town of Victor, lies Ganondagan (ga·NON·da·gan) which means “Town of White.”

Ganondagan, called  “Gannagaro,” was once a thriving Seneca village, the largest of its kind west of Syracuse. The hill was covered with as many as 150 longhouses, each housing 8 to 12 families. Four towers were used to store corn, and the entire village was surrounded by a ten-foot palisade that provided protection against warring neighbors. Today it is a place to celebrate Seneca history and culture.

The Seneca people; were one of the six nations comprising the Iroquois Confederacy: Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas and Tuscaroras.

Now we know where so many of our Finger Lakes names come from — the Iroquois.


Longhouses housed 8-12 families

Iroquois communities are matriarchal. Women own and tend the fields. When a man marries, he lives with his wife’s family and takes her name. Seneca farmers were primarily women and they were dependent upon 3 major crops: corn, beans and squash. The Senecas believed these 3 crops (The 3 sisters) sustained life (my kids would have starved).

hike a ganondagan

Charlie's view along the woods trail

On a cold spring day we visited Ganondagan and hiked ALL of their trails. The trails led across fields, marsh, through woods, alongside a winding stream, up and down, through dense thickets and without a map we were thoroughly lost.

The trails are well-marked, but circuitous and we looped around several times before finding our way back to the the trail we started out on.

Ganondagan trail

Sweetgrass Fork Trail

Ganondagan Trails

This would have been helpful. Geting lost was fun.

The trails are perfect for hiking, snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

One of their most famous yearly events is the Native American Dance and Music Festival. This year it is on July 23 and 24, from 10am-6pm.

The Native American Dance & Music Festival features a wide range of Native American traditional dancers, musicians, storytellers, and artists sharing their cultural heritage, crafts and arts with festival goers.

Hours of Operation:

May 1 through September 30

Tuesday – Sunday, 9 am – 5 pm

During October

Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm

Trails are open year round


These are NOT long houses. maybe they're man shacks

Some other great sites with information on Ganondagan.

Ganondagan Blog

New York State Parks


Entry filed under: Activities, Hiking, Iroquios, New York State Parks, Rochester, Trails, Victor. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Fingerlakes Fish Story Finger Lakes Summer Art Festivals

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Cathy Moskal  |  March 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the extensive information about the Seneca Tribe. I would like to add some quotes from it and link it once again to my New York Native and American History page that I am still developing. There are some very interesting reminents and sites here, around Seneca Lake, such as the “Painted Rocks” on the east bank near Watkins Glen. You can see them if you take a ride on Captain Bill’s Lake ride, or take a fishing excursion with Captain Mark Moskal with Summit to Stream Adventures.


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