Island Archaeology

New booklet examines life for the Native Americans on Fishers Island before John Winthrop, Jr., arrived…

Native Americans on Fishers Island is a booklet that explores how archaeological discoveries on Fishers Island illuminate the lives of the people who lived here hundreds and even thousands of years ago. The document is a revised and updated version of a 1976 paper Marion “Marnie” Briggs wrote, with illustrations by her father, the late Charles B. “Charlie” Ferguson.

Amateur archaeologist H.L. Ferguson at site on Fishers Island, 1930s.

Amateur archaeologist Henry L. Ferguson excavated many sites and collected numerous artifacts throughout the 1930s, igniting an interest in the Island’s human history. Professional archaeologists conducted scientific excavations from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, greatly broadening our knowledge of the Native Americans who lived on Fishers Island.

Reading the booklet, you’ll learn how Island life evolved over time. You’ll find out when Native Americans first arrived in the Fishers area and how the environment changed throughout their tenure. Foragers may be interested in learning which foods they collected, while others will be intrigued to learn when, approximately, the bow and arrow replaced the spear for hunting. Learn about early farming development, when native people began to cultivate corn, beans, and squash.

When the Museum opens its doors once again, be sure to visit our Archaeology Gallery to view the mural by Charlie Ferguson that shows how Native Americans lived on Fishers, and the many displays of artifacts found by archaeologists over the years. Knowledge of the long and complex history of peoples on Fishers Island can only increase our understanding and love of this special place.

Booklet is available by contact-free transfer at the Museum, or can be downloaded below and in the Archaeology section.

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