Indian Hill

Current Sign Text

New York

Was the home of the Onondaga
Indians. Large Population
Lived Here in 1655.

State Education
Department 1938

Problematic issues

-The word "population" is a loaded word. The Onondaga were and are a sovereign nation whose territory was more extensive than this specific hill, yet the sign attempts to limit the Onondaga to this hill. In the language of nations, a "population" does not have legal standing.

-The year 1655 was the year that French Jesuit priests held a mass near this site. The specific use of this date suggests that the Onondaga are only recognized once the Europeans visit them.


This marker (along with another marker) is located in "Indian Hill Memorial Park", a small site maintained by Onondaga County as a county historic site. The site is on Indian Hill Road West (which connects Watervale Road and Pompey Center Road, .6 mile West of Pompey Center Road. This area is also between the two branches of Limestone Creek.


-The entire area in the drainage between the Butternut Creek, the West Branch of Limestone Creek, and the East Branch of Limestone Creek was a major center of the Onondaga civilization at the time that the first Europeans (French priests) visited the area in the mid 1650s.(2) Proximity to water was important for Onondaga agriculture and orchards.

-The site of the marker was once the location of a village that was about a mile long (1).

-Roman Catholics erected another marker at this site to commemorate the celebration of mass near this site in 1655.

Indigenous Place Names for Site

On-on-da-ga - People of the Hills

Circumstances of Marker Placement

The New York State Education Department put up this marker in 1938 at Indian Hill 20 years after the Catholics put up their marker. This marker was put up towards the end of New York's Historic Marker project which lasted from 1926 to 1939 and was originally designed to commemorate the American Revolution. (3)

Additional Information

-This area in the northern part of what is now called the town of Pompey was the site of many Onondaga villages. There are at least eight sites under archeological investigation in the town of Pompey. Exact locations are kept private to inhibit vandalism. Onondagas are involved in land use discussions.

-Also see other marker for "Indian Hill."


1. William J. Oley, "Pompey Historical Notes Indian Hill", newspaper unknown, November 8, 1934; [source for woman's name is the priest's diaries];

2. Interview with Ruth Hotaling, Pompey Town Historian, July 7, 2009

3. New York Museum, "Outreach: State Historic Markers", Accessed January 23, 2011.

Last Updated

Gail Bundy, November 10, 2010