Champlain Monument Panels

Who Discovered Lake Champlain?

Native peoples lived here for more than 11,000 years before the Europeans came. Generally, the Mohawk people inhabited the west side of the lake, and the Abenaki the east side. Centuries before Champlain, the Mohawk were a founding nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, an ongoing democratic union of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora.

This monument shows Samuel de Champlain being guided by a Native ally. He depended on Indigenous peoples as trading partners, and to help him explore inland to the Great Lakes. In July 1609, his Huron, Algonquin and Montagnais allies guided him from Quebec City on the St. Lawrence and Richelieu Rivers to explore this lake, and to confront the Mohawk.

The Indigenous-designed birchbark canoe, a light, strong craft crucial to Champlain’s expeditions, supports the monument. The canoe is filled with beaver pelts and corn. The sculptor mistakenly gave the Native guide a headdress worn by peoples of the western plains, not of the northeast.

Champlain made maps of his explorations, and all of this land became New France under the Doctrine of Discovery, Pope Alexander VI’s 1493 decree authorizing European monarchs to disregard the sovereignty Indigenous peoples and claim ownership of the New World.

Please help us raise $1400 to put this information on an educational panel & place it near Plattsburgh’s Samuel de Champlain Monument on Cumberland Avenue. Send your tax-deductible donation to Saranac River Trail, 32 MacDonough St., #2, Plattsburgh, NY 12901; note “monument” on your check. Thank you!