Brush Gallery Digitizes Historic Haudenosaunee Charts
A series of Haudenosaunee educational charts from St. Lawrence University’s Owen D. Young Library Special Collections was recently digitized by staff from the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery. The charts, part of the Arthur and Shirley Einhorn Iroquois Collection MSS No. 196, were a gift to the University from the Einhorn family in 2015.
Most of the charts date to the 1940s and were designed and written by Ray Fadden (also known as Aren Akweks or Tehanetorens), a member of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and founder of the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center of Onchiota, New York. Fadden created the charts to convey elements of Haudenosaunee history and culture to share with school children from the region and with visitors from around the world. His son, John Fadden (also known as Kahionhes), Bill Loran, and others also helped illustrate some of the charts.
Subjects include the six nation confederacy, important Haudenosaunee leaders, tribal councils, the Tree of Great Peace, animals and plants of the region, traditional uses of wampum, environmental conservation, and encounters with colonists. The charts represent a rare example of Native American history and culture told from a Native perspective.
According to a tribute to Ray Fadden from Indian Country Today after his death in 2004, "[h]e has made it his life’s work to teach Native American history, culture, and environmental knowledge. He taught at Akwesasne for several years, and his unorthodox style of teaching saw him taking students to various historic places in North America, learning firsthand about Native American history. He also started a youth cultural awareness organization called the Akwesasne Mohawk Counselor Organization” to educate children about Native history and traditions.
With approval from Ray’s grandson, Dave Fadden, the charts are now available online through an international digital library platform called Jstor, where they can be shared widely in keeping with his grandfather’s wishes (see https://www.jstor.org/site/stlawu/adk_slv/)