Native Peoples of New York

South Hall

Native Americans have resided in the New York region for 13,000 years. Explore the cultural heritage of the first New Yorkers—from the Ice Age to the present—through dioramas, displays of artifacts and art, and a life-size reconstructed longhouse. These exhibits convey the changing lifeways of Native Peoples from small, family based groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled agriculturists living in large villages housing hundreds to thousands of people. Native People today live in the modern world but maintain deeply held connections to their past through culture, religion, and government.

Mohawk Iroquois Longhouse

Step through the village palisade and enter a reconstructed longhouse to glimpse the lives of Mohawk Iroquois peoples shortly before European contact. In the longhouse interior, replica artifacts and clothing illustrate traditional Iroquois material culture, while audio recordings relate Iroquois legends and worldview. Learn more about the longhouse, including how to construct your own model: Mohawk Iroquois Longhouse: Culture and Construction

Native Peoples Dioramas

Based on archaeological site excavations by the New York State Museum, three detailed dioramas highlight changes in Native American lifeways and society across the New York region. These interpretive scenes include (1) Ice Age hunters in the Hudson Valley, 13-12,000 years ago, (2) Holocene hunter-gatherers in the Finger Lakes at 2500 BC, and (3) Iroquois farmers in the Mohawk Valley, circa 1600 A.D. 

Mohawk Iroquois Village

400 years ago, Iroquois villages were often located on hilltops for natural defense. This minutely detailed model illustrates the construction of the defensive palisade and longhouses that sheltered the village, and the nearby fields of corn, beans and squash that sustained these peoples.

Contemporary Native American Art Collection

The artistry of Native People of New York—represented in the Contemporary Native American Art Collection—celebrates living cultures deeply rooted in tradition. Expressions of adaptation, innovation, community, and belief are represented in a rich variety of forms that help tell the story of Native People today.