Near This Spot

Current Sign Text

Near This Spot
Samuel de Champlain on October 8, 1615 Crossed the
River and Discovered Oneida Lake

Problematic issues

Use of the word "Discovered" implies that no one else knew about the lake. Since indigenous people lived here for thousands of years this is plainly ridiculous but it is a way of diminishing their significance and implying that only those of European dissent have importance.


US Rte 11 at Brewerton


This appears to be very significant to Brewerton as they label themselves as The Prehistoric Capital of N.Y. State. Since this is not clarified, one can only guess that it refers to people who lived there before the Europeans? There seems to be a disconnect between that and this sign. Although they give little emphasis to their "prehistoric" past, the site does say "The Native Americans occupied Brewerton for over 10,000 years." It does mention Champlain and the Huron's expedition passed through their area to attack "Native Americans". Most accounts of Champlain's activities did not mention this one. (FN4)

Indigenous Place Names for Site


Circumstances of Marker Placement

State of New York in 1932. "The State Historic Marker Program began in 1926 as a program of the State Education Department to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the American Revolution. Over 2,800 of the small, cast iron site markers were erected statewide during the duration of this program (1926- 1939)." (FN2) Placement of this marker and two others was reported in the Syracuse newspaper. It was also noted that another marker would be placed in the future which " will mark the first settlement of the Onondaga Nation several centuries before Columbus landed". How this could be determined is interesting to contemplate. (FN3)

Additional Information

Context for Champlain being in the area: (FN1) He aligned himself with the Huron who were historically enemies of Iroquois (Haudenosaunee ). In 1615 they started a military expedition against the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) following the Oneida River to Oneida Lake and on down the river. This account is not clear whether they were going to or attacked an Onondaga or an Oneida village and/or stockade. Although the exact location is debated apparently they lost due to attacking prematurely. Champlain was wounded and he and the Huron were forced to flee.


1. Samuel_de_Champlain#Military_expedition
2. NYS Museum, "Outreach: State Historic Markers",

Review Details

Researched by Sue Eiholzer, 2012