Native American Sites in the City of Philadelphia — Elusive but not Gone

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The following online exhibit provides information about the rare discoveries of Native American archaeological sites within the City of Philadelphia. There are currently only about a dozen such sites documented within the boundaries of Philadelphia, with the majority located in the peripheral, less disturbed parts of the city. Only four of these known sites have been identified to date within the core downtown parts of center city.

By Douglas Mooney (2010)

Native sites in Philadelphia and the artifacts they contain represent one of the primary ways for learning about Native American cultural heritage and lifeways before the founding of our city. This program presents an overview of the Native American encampments found within the central, most heavily developed parts of the city as a way of sharing knowledge about these discoveries, and to show how these most fragile of sites have managed to survive in forgotten corners beneath our modern streets. NEXT…

The Original Landscape
The Altered Landscape
The Sites
Federal Detention Center and National Constitution Center Sites
Blockley Almshouse Site
Old Original Bookbinders Site
Learn More…

“Where we stand, perchance to pause, rest the ashes of a Chief, or of his family; and where we have chosen our sites for our habitations, may have been the selected spots on which were hutted the now departed lineage of many generations. On yon path-way, seen in the distant view, climbing the remote hills, may have been the very path first tracked, from time immemorial, by the roving Indians themselves.

“Nay, it is very possible, that on the very site of Coaquanock, by the margin of the Dock Creek, on which their wigwams clustered and their canoes were sheltered, — on the very spot where Henry, Hancock and Adams since inspired the delegates of the colonies … with nerve and sinew for the toils of war, — there may have been lighted the council fires of wary Sachems, and there may have pealed the rude eloquence of Tamanend himself, — and of the Shingas, Tadeuscunds and Glikicans of their primitive and undebauched age!”
–John F. Watson, Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the Olden Time (1857), Vol 1: 41

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