Monday, November 15, 2021

A remembrance from growing up near Akwesasne

david fadden, photo by linda Friedman Ramirez

Editor’s note: In recognition of November being Native American Heritage Month, reader Joel Rosenbaum shared this story:

By Joel Rosenbaum

The grandfather of David Fadden (see here for a recent profile on David Fadden), Ray Fadden, was always talked about with a great deal of respect in my family, where I grew up in Massena, N. Y., not far from the Native American reservation (Akwesasne) in Hogansburg, N. Y.

I was born in Massena in 1933, and my father owned a clothing store there since the 1920s. Many of his customers were from the St Regis reservation and he became friends with many of them, especially those who were the steel workers constructing high-rise buildings in New York City. They would come into his store and purchase clothes after working for weeks in the city. If necessary, he would allow them to purchase on credit, and often they would pay him back by taking him fishing on the reservation on the St Lawrence River.

Some of my friends in high school were from the reservation, and my older sister was a friend of Lawrence Lazore. My mother had friends who were nuns from St Josephs in Malone who taught  on the reservation. Most could speak Mohawk. After my dad died, and she was living alone in Massena, some of  these nuns visited her.

Having grown up in this environment I became interested in Native American history and while in Syracuse at the university I spent time in Nedrow (Onondaga)  going to  ceremonies in their long house. My hobbies were beadwork, both on looms and on leather (lazy stitch). I also made baskets, and I continued to do the latter up until my old age (now 88).

I have  contributed some of this to the Native American Cultural Center at Yale University from which I have retired as a professor of biology. When I first came to Yale over 50 years ago, there were very few Native American students; there are now over two hundred! That is a lot of progress.

— Joel Rosenbaum is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University

Photo above of David Fadden, by Linda Friedman Ramirez

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

2 Responses

  1. Alan Jones says:

    In 1947, as a 10-year-old at Camp Onondaga on Long Lake, 17-year-old Oren Lyons was my junior counselor. He is a member of both the Seneca and Onondaga Nations and still lives in Nedrow. I learned a lot from Oren. Oren went on to be a powerful spokesman for Native Americans and is currently part of the “Americans Who Tell the Truth” exhibit which you can see here:

  2. Linda Ramirez says:

    Lovely article Joel.
    As a newcomer to the area I really enjoy reading these memories.

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