Don’t expect a typical museum experience at Onchiota’s Six Nations Indian Museum. Though there are glass-enclosed cases filled with old things, this is a museum that evolves with the living history of the Haudenosaunee, thanks to the Fadden family.
Founded in 1954 by Ray Fadden then passed to his son John, the tradition continues through the family of third-generation artist David Fadden. The Faddens continue to pursue Ray’s dream of providing people with an ongoing account of the Haudenosaunee (People of the Long House).
The Haudenosaunee Six Nations include the Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Tuscarora.
The museum is small, consisting of four rooms, each filled with artifacts rooted in tradition. Huge decorated panels cover large portions of the walls alongside canoes, baskets, tools, and beadwork. It is a visual feast.
If you can’t make it to the museum during regular hours, on August 17 at 7:30 pm, David Fadden will host the final Campfire and Legends event of the season on the museum grounds. Admission is $5/adults and $3/children. Snacks and beverages are provided, but please bring a chair or blanket.
I’ve heard Fadden speak during a Lake Placid Winter Lecture Series and he is riveting. He weaves stories through history and tradition while capturing the attention of all ages.
There are always slight changes and renovations at a museum. One constant I look forward to seeing is the Tree of Peace stenciled on the floor. Guides and museum interns are available to discuss its various components, significance, and the unification of the Iroquois nations.
Six Nations Indian Museum is located in Onchiota near the Buck Pond Campsites on Gaberiels-Onchiota. Hours are 10:00 am -5:00 pm through the end of August or by appointment in September. Please call 518-891-2299 for more information.