We are so lucky to live, work, and play in the Finger Lakes.  We have abundant water resources, greenery that goes on for miles and miles, and four seasons of varied, but equally beautiful, weather.  So this Earth Day, we’d like to celebrate that abundance of natural beauty by publishing a week’s worth of blogs on all things that celebrate the Earth in the Finger Lakes!  Welcome to day #5!

To be honest, sometimes I forget about how much beauty we have in the Finger Lakes, and more significantly, how important this land is to so many people. Just this week, I was reminded of these points during my visit with Peter Jemison, Historic Site Manager for Ganondagan Native American Historic Site in Victor. Peter and I walked the fields of Ganondagan as we talked about the story of the Seneca people and the spirit of this historic site.

300 years ago, more than 4,000 Seneca people lived together on this fertile and bountiful land known as Ganondagan, the Town of Peace. In 1687, a raid was launched on Ganondagan by the Marquis de Denonville for domination of the international fur trade. This devastating event would forever change the lives of the Seneca people.

Today, the spirit of Ganondagan is kept alive and the land is operated as a historic site to share the story of the Seneca people. There is a 17th century bark longhouse replica with Seneca objects to honor the people who once lived in 150 longhouses on the site. There are also dozens of inviting trails through woods and grasslands, as well as heirloom gardens and fields of native grasses. The three main trails are marked with beautifully-designed native art to assist with self-guided tours. The ethno-botanical signage on the Earth Is Our Mother Trail will acquaint you with how various plants are used for food, medicine and other needs.

There is nature everywhere in the Finger Lakes and so much of it is simply stunning. But, there is a sense of history, calm and peace at Ganondagan that cannot be replicated anywhere in the region. Ganondagan is much more than a nice place to look at. It is a land of deep history with a unique sense of place in the Finger Lakes. We are so very lucky to have land of such beauty – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Ganondagan officially opens for tours May 1 and I encourage you to go see for yourself what a special place it is. And if you’re planning ahead, the annual Native American Dance and Music Festival will take place at Ganondagan on July 27 and 28 of 2013.