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The1523 Project is a 501(c)3, non-profit,scientific association dedicated to

preservation and education about Eastern Long Island prior to European contact.


the Map


These are the Clovis points and their variants known on Long Island.

The points to the far left and right were found by Orient farmer Roy Latham in the 1930's.

They can be viewed at the

Southold Indian museum.


Algonquin Couple

Portrait, 17th century

Early images of Indigenous People are rare. This one from the 1600's shows a young couple on a journey. They appear well-dressed, healthy and strong. They may have been on their way to a ceremonial gathering some of which lasted many days, or perhaps on their way home to show off the new baby.

European accounts of that time report that the Native people's clothing was finely made with the women striving to outdo one another for their skills in garment making for their families.

Sacred icons adorn them in the form of body art, jewelry, embroidery, colors and the image on the paddle. Their mantles are likely moose hide tanned to buttery softness and white in color. The moccasins were comfortable and often traded with settlers eager to shed their heavy boots.

History Lesson #1

Amateur archeologists, historians and anthropologists began studying the Indigenous People of Eastern Long Island in 1899. The early days were marked by a zeal for finding sites, artifacts and ancient graveyards. In this they succeeded. From 1899-1952, the amateurs scoured the Peconic Bay area, inland sites and along the coasts and forests. Their "greatest finds," were 3,500 BP ancient hilltop graveyards which they excavated in an unprofessional manner, removing vessels, grave offerings, sacred stones and the skeletons of ancestors.

The scale of the early work can be described as massive. The farmers, lawyer and Fire Chief who began looking for the remains of Native culture dug hundreds of holes finding hearths, arrowheads, abraders, scrapers, bone tools and unfortunately many human remains.

After the Second World War the profession of archeology expanded and scholars with Ph.D.s began to study the same Indigenous culture as the early amateurs did. This time they brought science, stratigraphy, carbon dating and exacting methods of excavation and documentation. Scholars such as Dr. William Ritchie the NYS Archeologist, excavated Sugar Loaf in the Shinnecock Hills and Sharper's Hill in Jamesport. Dr. Ralph Solecki found Fort Corchaug, Down's Preserve and other sites. Dr. Gaynell Stone investigated historical documentation and Dr. John Strong published the findings into a popular series of books, seminars and college courses.


Their conclusions were foundational, supported by volumes of evidence, sometimes wrong and somehow missed the big picture of how Indigenous life was on the Twin Forks. In hundreds of reports, books, lectures and newspaper articles the same "facts" were repeated again and again. The total Native population of the Twin Forks was about 250-500 people. They were a successful culture that repeated the same lifeways for thousands of years without much change. The men hunted deer, the women kept small gardens, they ate oysters and probably lived in seasonal camps where they crafted arrowheads and other implements. The early 20th century scholars were not convinced that present day Montaukett, Shinnecock and Unkechaug tribes were related to the ancient people whose artifacts they were uncovering.

In fact, the Indigenous People of Eastern Long Island are the same people as those first settlers and ancestors who lived in a wonderland of fresh water, endless seafood, abundant deer, turkey, ducks and geese, hundreds of medicinal and edible plants and a mild climate. They traveled to New England, the Great Lakes and the southeast carrying their culture abroad and returning with new influences. Their ancient world must have been an exciting, fun place organized around large families, sports, lavish ceremonies, sacred rites, delicious food, travel, stories and legends.

The Big Mistake needs correcting. The Native people most likely numbered in the thousands perhaps 10,000 or more. They lived in permanent villages and also traveled to temporary areas where they had the equivalent of summer or lakeside homes when it was the best time to be at those places. In most areas in the northeast, people needed to go on a seasonal round to find enough food for the year. On eastern Long Island the food comes to the people. Peconic Bay and surrounding waters were filled with whales, seals, 16 foot sturgeon, cod, salmon, flounder, 25 pound lobsters and miles of oyster, clam and scallop beds. The woodlands provided tons of hickory, chestnut, walnut and beech nuts that were eaten raw, smoked,and made into flour to thicken stews. Wild strawberries were so abundant a Pilgrim hat could be filled without having to turn around. Deer and water fowl were hunted year round. It's estimated that a person needed to work only a couple of hours a day to gather all that was needed.

The rest of the time was filled with games, competitions, dance, music, crafts, visits with friends, adventures and an endless buffet of food. Dugout canoes provided quick transport. Montauk,

Shelter Island, Aquebogue, Mattituck or the Connecticut and Rhode Island coasts were only a few hours of paddling away.

The Big Mistake says that once there were Native villages on the Twin Forks.

That's not exactly true.

The entire Twin Forks was a Native village.


The map above is a work-in-progress. The black circles represent village sites or habitation areas. Some were very large like Aquebogue and Shinnecock, ranging over many miles and resource areas. The blue temple shapes represent ceremonial areas and sacred sites. The fish, animal and plant shapes indicate food sources.


Ancient Artifacts & Collections

The 1523 Project photographs museum and private collections.

The duck pipe is for the sacred use of tobacco. Tobacco was a spiritual substance, grown by men and mostly smoked by them in a ceremonial manner.

The duck pipe symbolizes the spirit of the bird and using it as an effigy pipe unites the user with the Above World as the smoke rises.

The effigy faces the smoker and the pipe was mostly held in the left hand as there are scorch marks on the right side and tail where the burning ember rested as the smoker ignited the bowl of tobacco.

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