Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center to move … down the road

On July 7, 2021, Dave Fadden stands next to one of his most recent paintings, which depicts the assimilation of Native Americans, at the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center in Onchiota. (News photo — Quinlan Peer)

ONCHIOTA — As the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center is open again for its 67th summer season, the Fadden family looks forward to moving down the road in the future.

“The next step is a big one,” said co-owner Dave Fadden, who runs the center with his brother Don and father John. “We will be expanding the center soon.”

Last year, during the coronavirus pandemic, the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center, formerly known as the Six Nations Indian Museum, received word that more artifacts will be donated from someone’s estate. Hearing this, the Faddens applied to be a nonprofit organization and will be expanding its cultural center. The center is currently four rooms, one being the gift shop and the other three containing more than 3,000 artifacts. This is not the first expansion; in 1954 when John’s father Ray Fadden opened the museum, the building only had two rooms. Over the years, it has grown to four while including outside exhibits.

The center will be moved down county Route 60 toward the entrance of the Buck Pond State Campground where a larger structure can be built and the current building will move as an artifact unto itself.

“The old building will be the heart of the new building,” Dave said in the room used for storytelling. “We would like to have a building around it with this in the center.”

Not only will the new building add more space for new artifacts, it will also be climate controlled to preserve the items.

The new Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center will contain an art gallery of paintings from the family. John, a retired art teacher, has created more than 700 paintings while Dave has painted more than 400.

The Faddens are unsure when the new center will be built, but they said it will cost nearly $5 million.

The center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during July and August. The Faddens will continue to work alongside The Wild Center in Tupper Lake to have a couple of campfire sessions this year as they did in 2019.

In addition to running the cultural center, Dave used to work for the North American Travel College before the pandemic. There he wrote a few children’s books written in both English and Mohawk as he tries to promote the dying language. They are available in the gift shop.

When asked about their greatest memories of working at the center, Don said, “We once had a group from Siberia, Russia.”

“The group was up to explore how the Adirondack Park worked with the state government to examine if it would be possible with Siberia and their government,” Dave added.

The Russians made a connection as they exchanged cultural aspects and stories through a translator.

“After the visit, we became friends,” Dave continued. “They came back one more time before they went home too.”

The Faddens have become friends with many visitors over the years.

“Our first visitors this year were a couple from Baltimore that have come here before,” John said. “We’ve gotten to know them pretty well.”