Sainte Marie among the Iroquois

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Sainte Marie among the Iroquois

Sainte Marie among the Iroquois (originally known as Sainte-Marie-de-Ganentaa or St. Mary's of Ganantaa) was a 17th century French Jesuit mission to the Onondaga Iroquois. It was located on Onondaga Lake near modern-day Syracuse, New York. The original mission was in use only from 1656 to 1658, but a modern replica is in operation as a museum and interpretive center.

The Jesuits build the mission at the invitation of the Onondaga nation of the Iroquois Confederation. Due to ongoing warfare between the Mohawks and French in Quebec, the Onondagas were anxious to broker peace between the two parties. The French built a stockade and a few buildings overlooking Onondaga Lake (Ganantaa in Iroquois). In addition to the missionaries and their servants/bondsmen, a contingent of French Coureur des Bois were sent to defend the stockade. After two years, the Mohawks threatened to attack the mission, and a new French Governor lost interest in the project. The entire group fled safely in 1658. No further missions in Iroquois territory were attempted by the French.

Reconstructed Mission
In the 1930s, a replica fort/mission was built on a bluff overlooking Onondaga Lake. It was thought that this was the original location, but no proof has been found for this. A later (modern) interpretive center has a variety of displays about Native and French culture ca. 1650. The Mission itself is surrounded by a high stockade and contains a chapel, refectory (dining hall), workshops and pens for animals. Outside the fort are gardens (vegetable and herb) and a baking oven. The Mission is a "living history" project, with costumed interpreters on weekends during the Summer.

Building Activity

  • removed a media and updated 2 digital references
    about 6 years ago via
  • Nadezhda Nikolova
    Nadezhda Nikolova updated
    about 6 years ago via