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Akwesasne Freedom School
Akwesasne Freedom School

Akwesasne Freedom School's mission: Cultural survival

At the Akwesasne Freedom School on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation near Massena, kids spend their whole day, including recess, completely immersed in the Mohawk language. Nora Flaherty has more.  Go to full article
Seneca president Robert Odawi Porter displays the historic cloth Tuesday.  [photo by Chris Caya]
Seneca president Robert Odawi Porter displays the historic cloth Tuesday. [photo by Chris Caya]

Senecas reassert sovereignty; Cuomo eyes gambling

Seneca Nation president Robert Odawi Porter is using an historic piece of cloth to deliver a message to New York State about native sovereignty. He said payment of the cloth and a small sum according to an 18th century treaty symbolizes native nations' freedom from state taxation and right to land.

The history lesson came on the same day that Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he is considering legalizing gambling in New York. That would have a profound effect on native nations and tribes around the state who rely on their casinos for revenue. Martha Foley and Dave Bullard report.  Go to full article
Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo considers adding non-Native gambling

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he's re examining the state's approach to casino gambling, and is looking at whether and how gaming in New York should be expanded.

Karen DeWitt reports.  Go to full article
Robert Odawi Porter at his desk.
Robert Odawi Porter at his desk.

Seneca president redefining native leadership

This week, we're going to take a look around Indian Country in New York. Taxing native smoke shops have grabbed headlines lately. But we're going to look deeper at some of the political, economic, and social trends shaping New York's native tribes and nations.

Today, the Seneca Nation, south of Buffalo. Casinos and tobacco sales have turned it from an empoverished territory to one of the top ten employer in western New York.

The Nation's new president, Robert Odawi Porter, has taken a lead role in negotiating native issues with the Cuomo Administration.

Porter wants the Senecas to go beyond smoke shops and slot machines. He's a Harvard-educated lawyer and academic. And he wants to recast one of the darkest moments of the Seneca people into an economic boon. David Sommerstein has this profile.  Go to full article
The Kinzua Dam near Warren, PA
The Kinzua Dam near Warren, PA

Senecas fight for Kinzua dam

In southwestern New York, a battle is shaping up for one of the Northeast's great hydropower complexes. The Kinzua dam was built 45 years ago by the federal government. In the process, dozens of homes and sacred sites belonging to the Seneca Indian Nation were flooded.

Today, the Seneca Nation is making a bid to take ownership of the dam. It's created an energy company from scratch. And it's investing heavily in its bet to beat out the company that currently runs the dam in the federal dam relicensing process. As the Innovation Trail's Daniel Robison reports, tens of millions of dollars are at stake.  Go to full article
The Kinzua Dam near Warren, PA
The Kinzua Dam near Warren, PA

Senecas seek dam to redress "historic injustice"

Forty-five years ago, the federal government built the Kinzua dam on the Alleghany River, just south of the New York border in northwestern Pennsylvania. The government said it was needed to control flooding in the Pittsburgh area.

150 families from the Seneca Nation were forcibly removed from the area. Their homes were burned and bulldozed. Their sacred longhouse and burial grounds were flooded by the rising waters.

This week, the Seneca Nation made a bid to become owner of the Kinzua dam. The federal license of the current operator, FirstEnergy of Akron, Ohio, expires in 2015. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will decide who gets a new 50-year license.

Robert Odawi Porter is the Seneca Nation president. He told David Sommerstein granting the Senecas the license to operate the Kinzua dam would correct what he calls a "grotesque injustice."  Go to full article
2002 - Chief Jake Swamp looks on while his grandson, Frank, hammers an ash log to loosen strips for basketmaking.
2002 - Chief Jake Swamp looks on while his grandson, Frank, hammers an ash log to loosen strips for basketmaking.

Remembering Mohawk peacemaker Jake Swamp

Jake Swamp, Mohawk chief and spiritual leader - planter of peace trees -- died unexpectedly a week ago. He was a public face of traditional Mohawks, opening ceremonies with a prayer in the Mohawk language, and traveling the world to teach about the teachings and issues of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Haudenosaunee.

Swamp founded the Tree of Peace Society almost 30 years ago to recover and pass along Mohawk and other tribal culture and philosophy.

We remembered Jake Swamp this morning, with a 2002 archive story set at the society's center in western St. Lawrence County. Martha Foley has more.  Go to full article
Frank and Mason hillips both won first place.
Frank and Mason hillips both won first place.

Heard Up North: Akwesasne smoke dancers

Last weekend, hundreds of people gathered outside the arena on Cornwall Island for the Akwesasne Pow Wow. More than 200 dancers from across the Iroquois territories competed. David Sommerstein spoke with two smoke dancers for today's Heard Up North.  Go to full article
Driftwood deposits from fierce storms threaten the homes of Shaktoolik.  Photo by Jon Rosales.
Driftwood deposits from fierce storms threaten the homes of Shaktoolik. Photo by Jon Rosales.

Climate change threatens Alaskan villages

It's well documented that climate change is having its most dramatic effects in the Arctic. Sea ice is retreating and the permafrost is melting. The sea level is rising. Storms are more intense.

A St. Lawrence University professor is getting a first-hand view of how that's affecting remote villages in Alaska. And he wants to bring the views of the Native Americans who live there to the world. "The story is really becoming more human-centered, I think," says SLU environmental studies professor Jon Rosales. "It used to be the polar bears were the emblematic, charismatic up in the Arctic that people associated climate change with. But it's really human now and it's really impacting people in a very dramatic way."

Rosales returned to three villages on the Bering Strait this summer, where Alaska reaches out to Siberia. His wife's family lives in one of them. Rosales told David Sommerstein one village, Shaktoolik, faces imminent danger as the fall storm season begins.  Go to full article
The shuttered Cornwall Island checkpoint
The shuttered Cornwall Island checkpoint

Canada delays Cornwall checkpoint decision

The temporary border checkpoint in Cornwall will remain in place another year. Canada had said it wanted a permanent solution by now. The port of entry was moved last year when Akwesasne Mohawks protested border officers being armed. As David Sommerstein reports, a return to the original checkpoint on Cornwall Island seems unlikely.  Go to full article

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