Jikonsahseh – Mother of Nations

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1488 State Route 444
Victor, NY 14564
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Mother of Nations met and advised the Peacemaker on formation of Haudenosaunee of Iroquois Confederacy Ca. 900 AD. She is buried nearby


By New York State — (between 1995 and 2006)

What was there

Gannagaro, the largest of the Seneca villages was situated here upon Boughton hill. Here lived the Seneca woman, Jikonsahseh, who was approached by the wandering Deganawida (The Peacemaker) from the northern shore of Ontario. Deganawida proposed that the warring tribes of the Great Lakes join a nation of organization, peace, and law. Jikonsahseh was the first to accept this offer, and assist the Peacemaker in recruiting other tribes. For this, the Peacemaker granted women special governing rights in Iroquois society. Jikonsahseh became known as the “Mother of Nations.”

Jikonsahseh was supposedly buried near the village. Historians believe these events to have taken place somewhere between 1450 and 1600. The village was destroyed by the Marquis de Denonville’s French army in 1687.

What is there now

The Ganondagan State Historic Site is now here, with the great Seneca village just a distant memory. The Ganondagan has a parking lot, nature trails, gift shop, offices and education center, and a replica Iroquois Long House. Several educational signs are scattered throughout the property. Rural homes surround the site and Co. Rd 41 and Rt 444 intersect here.

More information

A cement cross monument, across from Boughton Hill Rd from Ganondagan, reads:


Largest of the Seneca villages, was located on Boughton Hill

Rev. Joseph Chaumonot preached and baptized here in 1657

The place was also visited by Rev. Julien Garnier and other Jesuit missionaries

Rev. John Pierron had a chapel and resided here from 1673 to 1677

The village was destroyed by De Nonville’s army in 1687 and the inhabitants driven eastward toward Canandaigua and Geneva

Excerpt from “The Iroquois and the Jesuits” by Thomas Donohoe (1895):

Gannagaro was a very large village of about 150 houses and had a population of 2,000 or 3,000 as each long house was the home of from two to six families It was situated on a large hill called Boughton Hill, which rises immediately south of the little station at Victor on the Auburn branch of the New York Central Railroad.

About one mile and a quarter westerly on an eminence, called by the early settlers “Fort Hill”, was a fortified enclosure which could be used as a place of protection for women and children in case of an attack on Gannagaro. Gannagaro was called St James by the Jesuits and it was Ga-o-sa-eh-ga-aah in the Seneca tongue. The Rev. James Pierron came here in 1672 as the first resident missionary.

An excerpt from  “History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps & Gorham’s Purchase”, by Orsamus Turner describes the early American impression of the discoveries at Boughton Hill:

There are few localities in all Western New-York, so abounding in matters of historical interest, as Boughton Hill Victor Flats, and their immediate vicinity. There were, in an early day the mounds, the rude implements of war and the chase, that marked the occupancy of a race, whose history or identity are lost–of whose existence, even, we have, but the evidence afforded by these mysterious relics. When the Pioneers of our own race first sought out the spot, there were here and there, in hill and valley in the ravines, and around the pure, refreshing springs that gurgled at the base of the bluffs, evidences that here was once a favorite abiding place of the Seneca branch of the once powerful and warlike Iroquois ; here were the charred remains of their wigwams, their burial places, teeming with the smouldering remains of by gone generations; here they worshipped the “Manitou” of their simple creed, here they held their war and peace councils, here erected their war post and danced around it recounting their brave achievements, over their own race, in regions far off to the south, where the terror of their war whoop gave them victory before the battle had begun ; or far off to the north, upon the St Lawrence, the rivers of Maine, or at the west upon the borders of the Lakes. Here, in proud defiance of both Yonondio and Corlear,  when their swift footed messengers, ranging the shores of Lake Ontario, had warned them that the French Governor, De Nonville, was upon its waters–his “canoes”darkening their surface–his army, a host–weak in numbers, but Spartans in desperate courage, they resolved to stand, and baffle, if they could not resist, the march of the powerful invaders of their soil.

The reader, with antiquarian, historical inclinations, may stand in the streets of the quiet, rural village, and a landscape is spread out before him, attractive enough, in its present condition of cultivated valley and upland–bluffs and ravines; its interest increased by historical associations. Down yonder slope where, flocks and herds are grazing–where grain fields are waving with the breeze, and orchard fruits are ripening, came the armed men of “gay and gallant.” France, in her day of conquest and pride, of chivalry and national pre-eminence ; in its ranks, those in whose veins ran the blood of her noblest families ; at its head, one, decorated with the insignias of his proud monarch’s favor and confidence. Yonder highest bluff, at the base of which is the Rail Road station was the “Babylon of the Tsonnontouans,” the Abbe de Belmont, and the Baron La Honton ,so well describe. There is “the high hill surrounded by three little hills, or terraces, at the foot of a valley, and opposite some other hills.” Further off, to the right, is “Guh-a-you-dok,” or now “Fort Hill,” which, says De Nonville, “was on a very advantageous height, distant half a league from Gan-na-ga-ro,” (Ga-o-sa-eh-ga-aah or Boughton Hill ;) and here, in the valley, upon a small stream, near where it issues from the cedar swamps, is the “twenty arpens of land,” described by Belmont ; now smiling under the hand of cultivation ; then the “Dya-a-go-di-yu,” or main battle field, of the French and the Senecas.

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We would like to thank the following for helping us with this entry:
Matthew Conheady

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  1. […] explorer Robert de La Salle, was brought by the Seneca of the village of Ganagaro in August of 1669 to inspect the […]

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