The Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center and the Adirondack Land Trust today announce a new partnership that will protect forests, provide a site for the cultural center’s planned expansion, and open new pathways for collaborative conservation.
The land trust purchased 333 acres in Onchiota in August and transferred the land to the center on October 31, 2022. The nonprofit organizations are now collaborating with Indigenous advisors on a long-term vision and plan to care for the land.
The parcel provides space to move and expand the center to accommodate more visitors and a collection of more than 3,000 artifacts. The surrounding forest, which abuts the Debar Mountain Wild Forest, will be a setting for outdoor education programs for young people from Native and non-Native communities, and for Haudenosaunee traditional use. The lowland boreal forest is within an area scientists consider highly resilient to climate change.
“The center and the land trust share a common belief and philosophy with regards to preservation, conservation and stewardship of land. The Haudenosaunee, of which the Mohawks are one of six nations, have a notion of looking forward to the seventh generation ahead when thinking about how the decisions and actions we make today impact those who will come after us,” said Dave Kanietakeron Fadden of the cultural center.
“This collaborative effort to protect this acreage will, in my view, provide a place for experiencing, appreciating and learning about the beauty and gifts the land provides. Recognizing what values and concerns both our organizations have about the future of the Adirondacks and the world in general, this acquisition will ensure that this land will be protected for many generations to come,” added Fadden.
“While we applied a typical land-protection tool by buying the land, we have much to learn from Native concepts of caring for and preserving land. It is truly an honor to be working together to design a lasting agreement to conserve the natural integrity of this property in a way that incorporates and respects Haudenosaunee cultural values and uses,” said Chris Jage, conservation program director.
The Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center was owned and operated (initially as the Six Nations Museum) by the Fadden family for nearly 70 years before becoming a 501(c)(3) in 2020. The Faddens are members of the Mohawk Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy.
The original structure, built in 1954 by Ray Fadden in the style of a Haudenosaunee bark house, will be the heart of the new campus. The center’s staff and board are seeking grant funding and private donations to realize their vision for a state-of-the-art facility that incorporates solar, geothermal and other sustainability measures. Like their grandfather Ray, and father, John Fadden, Dave and Donnie Fadden are both artists and storytellers who are playing an important part in maintaining cultural traditions among young Mohawk people and building bridges with non-Native communities.
In addition to grounding the project in traditional values and environmental philosophies of the Haudenosaunee, the partners will work with researchers to learn more about the long history of the land.
The Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center’s mission is to educate the general public about Haudenosaunee culture specifically, and Native American history in general, including the Land Ethic of the Haudenosaunee, and other environmental sensitivities; create educational experiences so that the visitor, teacher and student may acquire the knowledge needed to better understand the history, culture, contemporary realities, and the potential futures of Native Nations; present information about Native cultures, and function as a place where traditional values, philosophies, and sensitivities can be reaffirmed. The center stresses the importance of maintaining oral tradition coupled with written history for cultural continuity and serves as a place where culture can be reasserted among Native Peoples. To learn more, visit 6nicc.com.
The Adirondack Land Trust’s mission is to forever conserve the forests, farmlands, waters and wild places that advance the quality of life of our communities and the ecological integrity of the Adirondacks. The land trust has protected 27,149 acres since its founding in 1984.
Photograph of Donnie, Eva, and Dave Fadden at the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center with the land trust’s Chris Jage and Mary Thill to celebrate the real estate closing by Nancie Battaglia; Aerial photograph of the parcel and surrounding lands by Becca Halter/Adirondack Land Trust.