Museum

Museum

The Akwesasne Museum will be closed for renovations effective October 22-December 28, 2018 and will not be available for tours or visitors during this time. We apologize for any inconvenience. The library and gift shop will still be open. Please contact the museum staff at 518-358-2461.

Visit the museum for a self-guided tour during regular business hours or call ahead for a guided tour. Enjoyable and educational for kids and adults alike, our exhibits present Mohawk culture from the perspective of the Mohawk people of Akwesasne. The collection of the Akwesasne Museum includes over 2,000 photographic objects and over 700 ethnographic objects of various kinds, related to the Mohawk community of Akwesasne. One of the priorities of the museum continues to be the traditional arts program. Classes for the Akwesasne Mohawk community help to keep traditional arts skills alive and well. For the past two years, the museum has conducted a community-wide survey to ascertain the top needs and desires that Akwesasronon have regarding class topics, skill range, fees, and scheduling. Examples are traditional arts programing includes: baskets, fancy baskets, cornhusk dolls, feather fans, raised beadwork techniques, moccasins, beaded crowns, beaded yokes, beaded skirts, and cradleboards. These classes are made possible with funding from the New York State Council on the Arts.

A significant photography project funded by the National Park Service addressed many of the needs of our largest collection. Our photo collection ranges from glass plate negatives produced in the early 1900’s to reproductions of recent images from the year 2000 and up.

Over 300 of our ethnographic objects are baskets, making it our second largest discreet category within the overall collection. Black ash splint and sweetgrass basketry is one of the defining features of Akwesasne Mohawk identity. There is no known date for the first use of splint basketry by Mohawk people, but splint fragments have been found in the Northeast United States that date to 3,000 years ago. Akwesasne has the greatest number of basketmakers in any one community among the Iroquois Confederacy. Basketmaking has remained an unbroken tradition over time, and is one of our strongest ties to the land, as materials are harvested from forests and fields.

“We Are From Akwesasne” is a traveling exhibit that was produced through Institute of Museum and Library Services funding. Youth from Akwesasne were the co-curators of the exhibit – working with consultants, designers, and museum staff in the creation of a traveling exhibit that illuminates the continuing culture and artistic heritage of Akwesasne. It is an extensive exhibit that includes interactive elements, free-standing panels with text and photographs, pedestals with traditional arts objects, and more. It will be at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY in the summer of 2018.

The museum was founded because of the burgeoning awareness and pride in our Native identity, but those positive feelings are still constricted by the effects of residential schools and other historical trauma. Project activities in the Institute of Museum & Library Services-Native American Native Hawaiian Project from 2016 to 2018 through the “Akwesasne Cultural Center Revitalization Project” will address these challenges through institutional, collections and interpretive planning and community dialogue. Over the course of one year, facilitated board/staff discussions, community dialogue and surveys will help us to re-think our organizational structure and to re-design our use of space to better serve our community’s cultural needs.

Gift Shop
The Akwesasne Cultural Center includes a museum shop that specializes in Mohawk black ash and sweetgrass basketry. The museum supports local artisans by carrying handmade items and publications created by Akwesasne community members. For those of you in cyber-space who would like to order from us, we are not ready for on-line sales, but you can contact us by phone 518-358-2461 or e-mail akwmuse@northnet.org for staff assistance in ordering baskets and mailing items. Due to the handmade nature of many of our items, the availability and price may vary.

Akwesasne is known for its intricate and innovative techniques of black ash splint and sweet grass baskets. Local basket makers and community members at large have a deep respect for the natural materials of basketry. Ash logs and sweetgrass are harvested by men and women who turn them into basketmaking materials in processes that involve an understanding of the environment and reverence for cultural practices. Basketry is used in traditional ways, and has also been part of our economy for generations.

Another basketry related item is a series of DVDs:
-Carriers of Culture – Akwesasne Mohawk Basketry Traditions,
-Utility Baskets by Henry Arquette – Atsienhanonne and
-Master Fancy Basketmaker Florence Benedict – Katsitsienhawi.

These DVDs were produced by the Akwesasne Cultural Center and Moccasin Path Productions. Director, RJ Joseph (Metis-Cree) brings heart and soul to the topic, showing how culture, family, and community are all part of Mohawk basketry. The cost is $20.00 each plus shipping. This is one item that we will wholesale.

Call 518-358-2461 or e-mail akwmuse@northnet.org to place your order.

Education Kits:
As part of our ongoing efforts to increase awareness of our culture and history, we have collected a number of objects, posters, books and videos and assembled them into kits available to schools and other organizations. These kits are an educational resource designed to share information on Native American history and culture from a contemporary Iroquois perspective.

The lesson plans and activities that accompany these kits may be tailored to fit all ages. Actual objects in the elementary school age kit include a doll-sized traditional boy’s Iroquois outfit, a girl doll in a cradleboard, a ring and pin game that can be replicated by you, using reusable materials found at home and school, plus more! Chosen for their accuracy and authentic information, educational resources include books, videos, and posters that illustrate Native American history and culture from an Akwesasne Mohawk perspective.

Handle a real basket made from black ash splint and sweet grass while you learn about the award-winning basket makers of Akwesasne.

Use a flannel board that is filled with Iroquois symbolism.

Fill your classroom walls with posters based on Iroquois culture.

Listen to Iroquois legends and songs and watch Iroquois dances on DVD.