The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe's Akwesasne Cultural Restoration
(ACR) Program announced the latest recipients of settlement funds
to support cultural projects in the Akwesasne Community. The Akwesasne
Freedom School's Language Nest, Akwesasne Cultural Center, and Akwesasne
Task Force on the Environment will each receive $100,000 in Natural
Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Settlement monies to support their
work through the end of 2018.
"I am pleased that deserving groups within our community have
been awarded funding to help their efforts to restore and strengthen
the Mohawk language and our cultural connection with the environment,"
said Tribal Chief Eric Thompson, who also serves as the Tribal Council's
representative on the Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Commission.
He noted, "Our language is intrinsically linked to the traditional
teachings associated with many of our natural resources."
On January 4th, a final community callout was made for cultural
projects from existing institutions, programs, and individuals involved
in Mohawk culture. Thirty-three proposals were received that pertained
to various cultural practices; such as hunting, trapping, horticulture,
traditional foods, medicine, plants, healing, fishing, river use,
basketmaking, and language.
The proposals were ranked by five members of the ACR Commission;
who include Dr. Taiaiake Alfred, SRMT Environment Division Director
Ken Jock, and three members of the program's administrative staff.
They were ranked based on ten sets of criteria that examined their
history, community reputation, record of success, community involvement,
project goals, correlation to ACR goals, budget, time period, methods
for evaluation, project benefits, support of NRDA mandates, transmission
of knowledge to future generations, and promotion of Mohawk language.
"The overall goal of the ACR Program has been seeking opportunities
to promote the restoration of cultural practices within the Akwesasne
community, including the preservation of the Mohawk language and
basketmaking," said ACR Program Manager Barbara Tarbell. She emphasized,"
The incorporation of Mohawk language is an overarching priority
identified by the community and is applied to everything we do.
I am pleased the three community groups awarded funding make language
and cultural education a vital part of their work."
The three community groups will promote Mohawk language and
traditional cultural teachings by undertaking the following projects:
The Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment will implement community
workshops for maple teachings, sap collection, seed sharing, Haudenosaunee
seed collection, starter plants, black ash tree workshops, basketmaking,
fruit trees, orchard maintenance, apple workshops, and Mohawk language
Back row (L-R): Kanerahtens, ACR Office Manager Amberdawn
LaFrance, Emma Shenandoah, and Amalli Nalli. Front row (L-R):
Tekanonhtakhen, Iehahserenhawe, Kahnawakeniate, Ranerahtentha,
The Akwesasne Freedom School Language Nest will continue providing
immersion daycare services that provide a safe, healthy, family
oriented place that fosters Mohawk language and cultural education.
They will provide children with Mohawk culture and values through
activities, healthy eating, consistent routines, storytelling, singing,
and interaction with other AFS students and elders.
The Akwesasne Cultural Center will implement a project to support
Mohawk language and transmission of language to future generations
through signage, brochures, and technology throughout Akwesasne.
Signage will be used to educate the community and increase our shared
Mohawk vocabulary about businesses, rivers, medicinal plants, trails,
traditional foods, and many other local places of interest.
In response to being announced as one of three community groups
named a recipient of cultural restoration funds, Akwesasne Cultural
Center Museum Program Coordinator Sue Herne shared, "I'm
excited to see the results of this signage project! Niawenko:wa
to ACR for the funding to put Kanien'kéha Owenna'shón:ah
across the community!"
The funds come from a $19.4 million settlement New York State
and the Tribe reached in 2013 with Alcoa and Reynolds for damages
to natural resources and culture practices due to the release of
industrial pollutants into the environment. Combined with $1.8 million
in restoration funds from a 2011 General Motors bankruptcy settlement,
the two settlements provided $20.3 million toward environmental
and cultural restoration, with $8.4 million to strengthen cultural
practices through the ACR Program.
The three community groups will join three institutions previously
awarded four-years of NRDA funding in 2013; which includes Thompson
Island Youth Camp, Healthy Heart Raised Bed Garden Project, and
Kana'stiohareke Mohawk Community. All six projects are funded through
the end of 2018.