Backward glances: In search of Native American relics

Credits: Photo courtesy of Susan Thompson

We know North Salem was settled in the 18th century by Dutch, English, Huguenots and others. But did you ever think about the real beginning of the local story? When the Keelers, Purdys, Bloomers and others moved in, people had already been living here for nearly 10,000 years. Where in North Salem were Native American villages and burial grounds? Where did they hunt? What paths did they travel? Did they use rock shelters and have sacred sites? How did they live? Nineteenth century histories, maps, settlers’ stories, old newspaper articles and oral traditions give us some clues.

With the hope of finding more answers and creating a timeline and map of Native American North Salem, I am working with lithic archeologist Lynn Marie Wieland (many of you heard her talk, “10,000 Years of Suburban Living,” at the library on March 4). An expert in Ridgefield pre-history, and specializing in Native American stone tools, Lynn Marie has done extensive archeology in Ridgefield and at Lake Kitchawan. Of course, there were no town borders in pre-contact times; so much of the Ridgefield Native American story is also ours. 

You can help with this project. Have you found any projectile points, pieces of Woodland pottery, hammer stones, or grinding tools? If you find something, please record where you found it, and if you are carrying a cell phone, take a photo of the site and note coordinates. If you have artifacts you have found in the past in North Salem, we’d like to see them, too, even if you don’t remember exactly where you found them. If you know of anyone who has a collection of Native American artifacts, please let them know about our project.  

Sign Up for E-News

Although Native Americans left no written records, their story can be reconstructed by archeology. We won’t be digging at this point in the investigation, but every artifact will help illuminate the past. Wandering hunter/gatherers in the Paleo Period (10,500-8,000 B.C.) used fluted points on their spears. Native Americans became more territorial in the Middle Archaic, and by the Late Archaic (4000-1700 B.C.) became more sedentary, creating storage pits, using grinding tools for nuts and seeds, and making Lamoka projectile points. Soapstone bowls appeared during the Transitional Archaic (1700-1000 B.C.), and the first clay pottery appeared in the Early Woodland (100 B.C.-A.D.0). In the Middle and Late Woodland periods, A.D. 0-A.D. 1600, they began to make coiled clay pottery, which was thinner and used for cooking and storage. Bows and arrows appeared sometime around A.D. 1000. 

Please help with this project by sharing your finds, and any family letters, histories, maps or stories that mention Native Americans in our area. Stop by my office in Lobdell House, call for an appointment at 914-669-8459 or get in touch by email at

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

North Salem

Upcoming Events

Thu, April 19, 5:30 PM

Starr Ridge Banquet Center, Brewster

CoveCare Center's 9th Annual Adult Spelling Bee

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Thu, April 19, 5:30 PM

Starr Ridge Banquet Center, Brewster

9th Annual Adult Spelling Bee

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back Health & Wellness

Thu, April 19, 6:00 PM

Athletes Warehouse, Pleasantville

FORE Your Health: Injury Prevention and Treatment ...

Health & Wellness Sports

‘Sister Act’: A Musical Like Nun Other

Of all the Broadway musicals I’ve seen over the years at Westchester Broadway Theatre, only a handful have elicited the noisily enthusiastic audience response I observed at the recent opening night of “Sister Act.”

There were outbursts of applause in the middle of some numbers, and several clever turns of phrase sprinkled in the dialogue landed squarely, to the delight of big ...

Seen Any Good Ol’ Movies Lately?

As I become more, uh, mature, I find myself enjoying older movies more than newer movies. The trio of films presented here for your consideration are three of my all-time favorites. They share great stories, great screenplays, great directing, great acting. They also have in common ratings in the 90s on Rotten Tomatoes, and a place of distinction in the National Film Registry, a highly selective ...

Privacy? LOL!

Author’s Note: Mom + Pop Culture are a couple of real characters. They could be you and me. Or not. Every so often, I eavesdrop on their conversations. Let’s listen in on what they’re saying right now about how Facebook fans are shocked—shocked!—that their privacy has been compromised, prompting them to rise up and exhort oppressed social media users everywhere to ...

Cleaning the Empty Nest

Part of the shock of being a part-time empty nester is when the kids come back to visit and I have to watch my house transform overnight from a pristine haven of OCD goodness to a place that looks like an explosion happened at Forever 21.

After my kids moved mostly out, I put away whatever tchotchkes they chose to leave behind and then I put on a hazmat suit and cleaned their rooms until they ...

Tipping the Scales in My Favor

As I was settling into bed one night, I happened to catch my husband out of the corner of my eye.

He was getting on the scale.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I yelled at him. He jerked his head around and looked at me with alarm.

“What? I’m weighing myself.”

I jumped out of bed and yanked him off the scale. 

“You can’t do that now!” I ...

Doing Time in the Big House

“So, what did the doctor say about Dad?” I asked my mom over the phone.

“He has an incarcerated hernia,” she replied.

“INCARCERATED hernia?” I repeated.


“Why is it incarcerated? Did it rob a bank?”

“What? No.”

“Unlawful entry? Obstruction? Insider trading?” I ...

Recent Winter Storms Severe? Not According to the Highway Department

April 6, 2018

To the editor,

Your March 22 issue of North Salem News gave wide coverage to the recent storms of March 2 and March 7. Falling trees brought down power lines resulting in a loss of power for most of North Salem for almost a week. The local library and ambulance center were of tremendous help to our citizens during this emergency.

I soon noticed brush and branches being gathered by residents ...

Croton Falls Raises Its Ladder in 'Fest’

April 6, 2018

NORTH SALEM, N.Y.-Ladder trucks from area fire departments look resplendent as they reach toward the night sky in the parking lot of the Mahopac firehouse on Route 6. The Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department held a drill Thursday (March 22) while hosting the first “Ladder Fest” in Putnam County. It featured aerial equipment from departments around the area, including Croton Falls, ...

Westchester Writers Workshop 3rd Annual Spring Open Mic at the Somers Library

April 6, 2018

Westchester Writers Workshop 3rd annual Spring Open Mic at the Somers Library  
Sunday, April 15, 1:30 pm: refreshments; 2 pm: open mic

Come celebrate Poetry Month by signing up for five minute time slots at the open mic or just come for the show. Poets, bards, thespians, orators, public speakers, musicians, performers, writers are all welcome! We are celebrating poetry so bring your ...