A Day in the Adirondacks 4,000 Years Ago

A Day in the Adirondacks 4,000 Years Ago

What started with a canoe trip on a hot Memorial Day weekend in the Adirondack Mountains ended with an archaeological find that brought me back thousands of years to when the Algonquin and Iroquois inhabited the area.

My family and I took to the Fulton Chain of Lakes for some much needed time of rest and relaxation only to find that the water level on the upper lakes (8th Lake to 6th Lake) had been over a foot lower than it should be this time of year. We used the lower water levels to our advantage to explore parts of the lakes that would normally be submerged and inaccessible.

Creating a flotilla of kayaks and canoes complete with snacks, we set off on an abnormally hot day to the shallow channel between 8th and 7th Lake, which was now completely exposed only allowing boats to pass if they were portaged across. 

We beached our boats on the sandy and pebbly shoreline and proceeded to explore to see what interesting things we could find, and needless to say, we were not disappointed: 
We found a salamander swimming by, an owl pellet at the base of a tree stump, heron tracks the length of the sandbar, a ping-pong ball shaped turtle egg no bigger than a dime, beautiful spiraled snail shells of all sizes, and tracks from an unknown animal (a turtle? a beaver?).

Happy with our finds and climbing in our boats ready to take off, I continue to scan the ground as I always do and much to my surprise, there half buried in the sand, is a perfect and complete arrowhead! I took it home to do more research on it and the area to see what I could find about its history...

The Adirondack Mountains are the oldest geological formation in North America, being over 1 billion years old and shaped by multiple Ice Ages. Paleo-Indian sites dating all the way back to 9000 BC have been found in the region. The Iroquois and Algonquin moved into the mountainous area between 1,200 to 4,000 years ago bringing a rich and long history. 

The Mohawk Tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy inhabited land in upstate New York around the Mohawk River, Lake Ontario and into Quebec. They called themselves "Kanyengehaga" or "people of the flint" as their trade of flint within their confederacy made them wealthy. They maintained their territory in New York for hunting and fishing, but were keen on expanding, which meant they were often waging war on other tribes.

Due to the locality of the Mohawks in the area of the Fulton Chain of Lakes (which originally was a river that was dammed around 1798 to create lakes), I believe this arrowhead could be Iroquoian, and made of chert. Using a process called "flint knapping," the arrowhead was cut down to the right size, shape, and thinness resulting in the beautiful and nearly symmetrical look that it has. This caramel brown tool is 2 inches long and 1.13 inches wide. 

But it is difficult to say for sure who had created this artifact and almost impossible to say how old it could be. Despite the mystery behind this arrowhead, it was a fantastic find and gives a great insight into the history of the land!


Arrowhead (Iroquois?)
1,200 - 4,000 years old ?
7th Lake
Inlet, New York
2 x 1.13"