Susquehannock Landscape

Archaeology of the lower Susquehanna river reveals that American Indians had utilized its sources for hundreds of years. Around 1550 AD, the world we recognize as the Susquehannock moved from higher up the flow to the lower Susquehanna Valley. The Susquehannock were Iroquoian speakers and also shared countless similarities v the Iroquois in brand-new York. The Shenks Ferry people, who had occupied the an ar for much more than five hundred years prior to their arrival, were absorbed into their culture. Even if it is this union came about through pressure or complimentary will is no known.

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It is probable the the Susquehannock relocated south in bespeak to better control the fur trade. However, they easily trapped out the Susquehanna valley and became a ‘middle-man’ because that furs indigenous Native teams in the locations of new York, Ohio, and Canada. Tensions in between tribes end the fur trade were fierce throughout the 17th century.

Susquehannocks traveled to trade v Europeans on footpaths and using your dugout canoes. The Susquehannock’s canoes to be heavy and strong. The weight and bulkiness made the extremely difficult to carry the canoes over land. It is most likely that dugouts to be used mostly for fishing, ferrying cargo, and also crossing the river. For take trip up or under the river, Susquehannocks used substantial system of go paths.

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Map of indigenous American footpaths in between the Delaware and also Susquehanna Rivers
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John Smith’s relenten of a Susquehannock

In 1608, Captain man Smith and his tiny crew of adventurers collection out in an open boat to check out the Chesapeake Bay. They mapped and also documented nearly 3,000 mile of the Bay and also its rivers. Follow me the way, castle visited countless thriving indigenous American communities and also gathered information. Smith only traveled up the Susquehanna a few miles, where he met a delegation of Susquehannock representatives simply north that the river’s mouth.

Smith defined the Susquehannocks “as good and well-proportioned men” who “seemed like Giants to the English.” Based on archaeological evidence, they were no taller 보다 the average modern-day day American but an ext robust than Smith’s explorers. Smith’s fascination v the Susquehannock is reflect by the prominent figure of the Susquehannock man had on his map of the Chesapeake Bay.

Visit the Zimmerman Center to discover much more about Smith’s travels and also the Native american of the Susquehanna and walk v the historic landscape of the last well-known settlement of aboriginal Susquehannocks.


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Susquehannock ft as illustrated by map maker, Herman Moll, in 1720

The Susquehannock lived in large fortified towns, the largest of which might have had a populace of practically 3,000 people. Their areas were situated along the Susquehanna, particularly in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, and York counties. They created their towns along the Susquehanna because of the productive soil and also waters that promoted travel and trade and provided them through a constant supply fish and also waterfowl. Towns were written of longhouses that were 60 – 80 feet in length and housed a number of nuclear family members related with the mrs line. The stockaded communities were surrounding by huge fields of corn, beans, and squash.

The Schultz website is the earliest well-known Susquehannock city in the reduced Susquehanna river Valley. Located simply south of Washington Boro, it shows up to have been occupied between 1575 and also 1600 through as countless as 1,300 people. Historical evidence indigenous trash and also burn pits mirrors that the Susquehannock had a diverse diet. Corn, beans, and also squash were clip foods, v corn-based meals making up nearly half of their diet. Deer to be the most usual protein but bear, elk, and also fish were also popular. Wild plants, fruits, and also nuts supplemented their diets.

The Susquehannock were huge scale agriculturalists. They practiced ‘slash and also burn’ agriculture. This affiliated clearing the forest by burning under trees and also planting plants in their ashes. As nutrient in the soil were depleted, productivity lessened forcing the Susquehannock to move their towns around every two decades.

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Susquehannock challenge Pot in ~ Pennsylvania State Museum

The Susquehannock developed a distinctive vessel known as the face Pot. The hallmark the this pottery form is its high decorative collar adorned with person faces. Ceramic of this form and dimension were used by the Susquehannock as typical food ship at enjoy the meal time and as containers to keep small an individual items such together needles, fish hooks, spoons and other items do of antler, bone and also wood. Goods such as glass beads, steel axes, metal harpoons, and flintlock muskets were derived through fur trade with Europeans. Together this profession expanded, indigenous made items were replaced with europe equivalents choose the brass kettle.

Although the Susquehannock controlled the fur trade for practically a century, they were in continuous conflict with various other Indian tribes, particularly the Seneca the western new York State. Large scale battles took place with the Seneca in Washington Boro and across the river in York County. Warfare and condition eventually overwhelmed the Susquehannock. In 1675, roughly 500 survivors fled to an abandoned Piscataway fort along the grape max River. However, this arrangement likewise ended in disaster, and with permission that the Seneca, they eventually returned to the lower Susquehanna Valley, developing a negotiation on land set aside for them by wilhelm Penn. They ended up being known as the Conestoga Indians and they lived more or much less in peace with your European next-door neighbors through the end of the French and also Indian War.

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A catastrophic end concerned the Conestoga, when two weeks before Christmas, in 1763, castle were struck by a team of vigilantes native the Harrisburg area. Recognized as the “Paxtang Boys”, the team was uncomfortable by the Indian attacks of Pontiac’s Rebellion. The survivors were put in the Lancaster jail for their very own protection but two work after Christmas, the Paxtang guys returned and also killed every man, woman, and child, in what one observer call “the most horrible massacre the was ever heard of in this, or probably an other province.”

Susquehanna Heritage provides tours native the Zimmerman Center through the historic landscape of the last well-known settlement of aboriginal Susquehannocks.