Six Nations Indian Museum

HCR 1 Box 1

Onchiota, N.Y. 12989   

Museum Hours and Appointment Scheduling

A brief History:

        Ray, Christine, and John Fadden opened the Museum for its first season during the

summer of 1954. The wood that went into the lumber of the initial structure was milled at

a local saw mill from trees felled by Ray Fadden. The museum, originally two rooms

large, expanded to four rooms producing a building approximately 80' x 20'. The

Museum's design reflects the architecture of a traditional Haudenosaunee (Six Iroquois

Nations Confederacy) bark house. The long bark house is a metaphor for the Six

Nations Confederacy, symbolically stretching from East to West across ancestral

territory. The Mohawks are the Keepers of the Eastern Door, the Senecas are the

Keepers of the Western Door, the Onondagas are the Fire Keepers and the Oneidas,

Cayugas, and Tuscaroras (admitted into the Confederation in the early 18th century) are

the Younger Brothers.

Cultural Items

      The Museum houses a myriad of pre-contact, and post-contact  artifacts,

contemporary arts and crafts, diagrammatic charts, posters, and other items of

Haudenosaunee culture. The objects within the Museum are primarily representative of

the Haudenosaunee, but there are representations of other Native American cultures as

well.  There are many objects within the museum. The floors are decorated with

Haudenosaunee  symbol & motif, and within the rooms are cases exhibiting artifacts.

The walls are laden with informative charts, beaded belts, paintings and other

indigenous items of interest. Up into the peaked ceiling of each room are

representations of Native America as they are covered with artifacts including canoes,

baskets, tools, beadwork, feathered headgear, Native clothing, and posters.

Visual Feast

      The Museum is open on a regular basis during the summer months , and is staffed

by Fadden  family members. Additionally, during the late Spring, and early Fall, the

Museum is  open by appointment. Visitors are treated to a visual feast of Native

American material  supplemented with a series of lectures geared toward the situation,

and needs of the  audience. Pictographic stories are read, descriptions of contributions

of Native Peoples  to contemporary society are expressed, and the telling of the epic

story of the formation  of the Haudenosaunee form of participatory government occurs.


      Our goals in respect to  the Museum are multiple. First, we want to educate the

general public about  Haudenosaunee culture. Sometimes visitors come from such

continents as Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Americas, lending a special

inter-cultural flavor to our exchanges. Visitors to the Adirondack Park often chance

upon our museum as they vacation. We are visited by summer camps, various summer

education programs, and we have even hosted history/anthropology classes from SUNY

Plattsburgh, SUNY Oswego, St. Lawrence University, and Cornell University. The

opening of the Adirondack Visitors Interpretive Center in the Spring of 1989 has

expanded the number of visitors, because the Center is located about nine miles from

the Museum. Another, equally important goal, is to serve Native Peoples. We present

information about Native cultures, and function as a place where traditional values,

philosophies, and sensitivities can be reaffirmed. We vehemently stress the importance

of maintaining oral tradition  coupled with written history for cultural continuity. Native

students (and non-students or  former students) from such indigenous communities as

Akwesasne, Kahnawake,  Kanesatake, Oneida, Onondaga, and points west across New

York State, and into  Canada regularly visit us. Another goal of the Museum is directed

toward educating the  public about the Land Ethic of the Haudenosaunee, and other

environmental  sensitivities.


      The preservation of the trees, plants, waters, birds, animals, and the very  soil of the

Earth itself is an objective. The Museum's founder, Ray Fadden, has for years already

done this by feeding the ravens, crows, chickadees, chipmunks, squirrels, coyotes, and

the bears. This process of nutritional assistance will continue, and the reason for this is

that the natural habitat of these animals, and birds has been badly eroded by man-made

realities, ie., acid rain, habitat destruction, ozone depletion, over-hunting, and

over-fishing to name a few.

Living Museum

      We take pride in our existence as a living museum, embodying the values and

worldview of a vibrant culture. Many museums appear to have the same goals, but in

most cases, they are institutions deeply rooted in western culture, in effect presenting

Native American cultures "under glass." Cultural perspective markedly affects the

manner in which material is presented. The Six Nations Indian Museum presents its

material from a Native American point of view.