Suzanne Carmick writes in the New York Times Travel Section about visiting the Pastoral Islands of Lake Champlain. The Vermont islands of South Hero, North Hero, and Isle La Motte, are on the border of New York and just south of Canada.
Carmick mentions the long history of Isle La Motte, which was occupied by Native Americans long before Samuel Champlain first recorded it in 1609. In A.D. 1666, the French built Fort St. Anne on Isle La Motte. The fort was occupied for as little as two years before being abandoned. In the late 1800s, the Catholic Church purchased the land, which became St. Anne’s Shrine. A Vermont priest, Father Joseph Kerlidou excavated the remains of the French fort.
In 1917, archaeologist Warren Moorehead conducted excavations near the shrine, finding Woodland period ceramics. At another location, Reynolds Point, he found artifacts from the earlier Archaic period. In the early 1960s, a cremation burial site attributed to the Archaic Glacial Kame culture was accidentally uncovered by workers on the island. New York State Archaeologist William Ritchie examined the artifacts found with the ochre-stained human bones. The grave goods included Native copper adzes, copper beads, shell gorgets and beads, and over 100 pieces of galena.
For more on Fort St. Anne, see Enshrining the Past: The Early Archaeology of Fort St. Anne, Isle La Motte, Vermont
Bone effigy deer’s head found on Frontenac Island, NY. Source: Cadzow 1925, Figure 33.
The Frontenac Island site in Cayuga Lake, New York, was excavated by William Ritchie in 1939-1940, and then again several years later. The first professional excavations on the island, however, were conducted by Donald Cadzow for the Museum of the American Indian around the same time Ritchie was beginning to excavate the Lamoka Lake site.
“For many years Cayuga county, New York, has been a happy hunting-ground for commercial pothunters and local diggers,” Cadzow wrote, but Frontenac Island had “been protected for many years by public-spirited citizens living nearby.” (p. 56, 58) Cadzow received permission from the island’s owners (the village of Union Springs) to dig on the island, beginning in late July 1924. Excavations were limited, but finds included pottery and human burials. Included with one of the burials were four stone plummets, one winged bannerstone, a bone animal effigy interpreted as a deer’s head, three beaver incisors, one notched point, three antler flakers, two bone “arrowpoints” (one looks harpoon-like) and the left humerus of a swan, which had been cut and polished and perforated.
Bone “arrowpoints’ from Frontenac Island, NY. Source: Cadzow 1925, Figure 35.
Frontenac Island. Source: Cadzow 1925.
1925 Prehistoric Algonkian Burial Site in Cayuga County, New York. Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation Indian Notes 2(1):56-63.