Louise Akel of Binghamton observes an exhibit of archaeological discoveries at the site of the University Downtown Center during a Jan. 6 reception marking the fifth anniversary of the College of Community and Public Affairs. Also on display was the Native-American hand-carved stone sculpture commemorating Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) heritage in the Confluence Park area, which was created by artists from the Onondaga Nation.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
CCPA reception celebrates school’s anniversary, area’s living historyTweet
The College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) began its fifth-anniversary celebration by looking back at the history of where its building is located.
Formed in 2006 from a split of the School of Education and Human Development, CCPA will commemorate its milestone with a series of events that will conclude in the summer. The first installment in the series was a reception on Jan. 6 at the University Downtown Center that unveiled an exhibit of artifacts discovered at the meeting place of the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers.
Dean Patricia Wallace Ingraham said the hard work of the University’s Public Archaeology Facility (PAF), as well as the generosity of an anonymous donor, have made it possible to permanently display the exhibit at the Downtown Center.
“[With this event and exhibit], we celebrate the University Downtown Center site, its unique history, and its cultural and religious significance,” Ingraham said. “I always knew being at the confluence of the two rivers would be truly special.”
During the reception, Nina Versaggi, PAF director and adjunct assistant professor of anthropology, gave a brief lecture about the history of the Downtown Center site, saying hunters and gatherers set up camp at the confluence 5,000 years ago to conduct seasonal fish runs. She said a backhoe and countless hours of hand-digging with trowels unearthed pieces such as 18th century pottery and Native American arrowheads.
“One of our missions is to return the knowledge that we take out of the ground to the community where we live and work,” Versaggi said. “As archaeologists, we’re very thankful for the fact that historic preservation laws exist. Without them, we would not have been able to dig here before construction of the facility.”
CCPA welcomed the addition of a Native American hand-carved stone sculpture that commemorates the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) heritage of the Confluence Park area. Anthony Gonyea, a Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation, designed the sculpture and Tom Huff, a member of the Seneca Nation, carved the piece. Because of illness, neither was able to attend the reception in order to be recognized in person for their efforts.
Attendees included representatives of the many organizations with which CCPA faculty and students partner in the community, as well as representatives from government agencies with which the college works. Ingraham said the anniversary celebrations will highlight those partnerships. Those who attended the event also visited the dean’s suite to view a display of Southeast Asian artwork on loan from the University’s Art Museum.