“Between...two hills, a wide roomy cove of the [Susquehanna] valley extends northward like a providentially designed and sheltered dwelling place...Across this spacious nook from the north courses a large brook of crystal-clear water...this brook and its valley in the earliest records, bears a name spelled variously: Oniorentha, Onoyarenton, Onahrenton and Onahrenta. At a time and in a manner now obscured by the mist of long departed years, this name evolved...into English as ‘Oneonta.’ The original is a Mohawk-Oneida name indicating rocks, and may be translated as ‘Many Rock’ or ‘The Place of Rocks.’”
Thus Willard E. Yager described the geography of his home town, Oneonta, New York in the notes that were later compiled into a book called The Oneota. In it, Yager described not only the landscape but also sense of place- the relationship between the Haudenosaunee, and other Indigenous peoples, to this land in which they dwelled, hunted and fished.
The Yager Museum of Art & Culture is located on the hunting grounds of the Haudenosaunee confederacy, arguably the first formal participatory democracy in North America, and our understanding of this land begins with their stewardship. Those who came after the Haudenosaunee also developed their own sense of this place along the banks of the Susquehanna. For centuries, artists, artisans, and others have created works - large and small - that express a sense of this place.
Through this map, you can explore the artistic and cultural landscape of Oneonta and its environs. You may visit familiar sites, places that have been transformed over the decades, and those that have been lost to time. The map tells the stories of people whose experiences have shaped this place, through art and images from the Yager Museum collections and from institutional and individual partners. We hope Discovering Our Place will allow visitors to consider their own impact on this community.
We invite you to contribute to the map. Make a drawing, photograph, painting, collage, or other visual response and share it. Together, we can all deepen our understanding of this place called Oneonta. You’ll find a “Share Your View” button on the descriptions of each location.
About this Project
Discovering Our Place was created by the students in Hartwick College’s Creative Exhibits course in Spring Semester 2021 for the Yager Museum of Art & Culture. The project originated in a confluence of three factors: the temporary closure of the Museum to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the creation of Flightpath, Hartwick College’s future-focused approach to education; and the You Are Here project at the Owens Art Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada.
Discovering Our Place will be supplemented with an Accessible PDF, designed for offline use with Google Map coordinates for all locations, and an educator resource to allow teachers and others to design their own investigations of Oneonta and other communities.