Native Americans

Resident for 60 centuries

While Europeans arrived in the area for the first time four centuries ago, and the area known as Milan only started to be settled three centuries ago, it puts Native American “residency” in perspective to know that they lived here for 45 to 60 centuries prior to European arrival.

Milan Water Maps Labled
Click to enlarge.
Without implying necessarily a direct connection, Milan is in an untypical situation in that the mouths of the Roeliff Jansen Kill to the north and Wappingers Creek to the south are almost 50 miles apart on the Hudson River. And yet the former dips into the north of Milan while the later has its headwaters well into the southern half of Milan. The Roeliff Jansen Kill is understood to have been the southern-most area of the Mahican to the north. And south of this, the beginning of a group of Delaware called Wappinger  to the south.

Evidence today

The tools below were discovered within the modern boundary of Milan by Christopher Lindner, Director of the Bard Archaeology Field School, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, and Archaeologist in Residence at Bard College.  Shown here with permission.  More of his work can be found at Bard Archaeology.

Deer Terrace 01f
Click to enlarge.

Myth vs. fact

The 1934 NYS Roadside marker indicating the Native American burial ground of Shekomeko’s is mythology.  ll evidence points to an African American (and people of mixed race) burial ground, including prior African American plot landowners Jacob Lyle (Revolutionary War veteran) and his wife Betsey; Nancy Bradford, an African American Cook (the early 19th tradition frequently involved burial of the deceased on their property).  And potentially other African Americans in and around Turkey Hill such as Peter Jackson.

The only story of “Chief Crow” is captured in this June 28, 1934 Chatham Courier article.  This is withing a month of when Mrs. C. V. Harrison (mentioned in the article) submitted the sign application to the state citing “old men of this section tell of their grandparents seeing these daily and of their burial place.”


Sources and further reading

Bard Archaeology

Handbook of North American Indians, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, 1978.

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