Tehanetorens – Ray Fadden

Ray Fadden was a teacher and influential figure among the Mohawks of Akwesasne. The Mohawk Nation adopted him into the Mohawk wolf clan and gave him the name Tehanetorens, which has been translated as “He Walks through the Pines.”

In 1930, Ray Fadden, became one of the first teachers at the St. Regis Mohawk School in Hogansburg. Ray grew up in the Adirondack Mountains. He was passionate about his love for all things Indian, being part Mohawk himself, and spent many years learning all he could about the Mohawk culture and history both from books and from elders he met throughout the Iroquois Confederacy.

Ray published a series of articles that detailed the many contributions the North American Indian had made to modern civilization, ranging from technological innovations to foodstuffs and even democratic traditions. This was unprecedented in a time when the outside world viewed the Indian as little more than a Stone Age savage who must abandon his culture if he is to survive in the modern world. Ray fought against this negative characterization by mobilizing his students as the “Akwesasne Mohawk Counselor Organization,” a club that traveled all over the Northeast visiting Indian historic sites, camping out, learning as much as they could about Indian craft and lore, and then turning around and sharing what they learned with the children they encountered. Ray also published numerous pamphlets and posters about Indian culture that are still in print today.

Ray Fadden’s energy and enthusiasm were inspirational. The Mohawk people went on to establish Akwesasne Notes, the White Roots of Peace, the North American Indian Traveling College, the Akwesasne Museum, the Akwesasne Freedom School, CKON Radio, and other community-driven efforts, all motivated by a passionate pride in our traditional way of life that Ray Fadden helped to foster.

After retiring as a schoolteacher, he established the Six Nations Indian Museum in Onchiota where he continued to educate anyone who would listen about the amazing heritage of the Haudenosaunee people. With his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren by his side, Ray became something of a living legend in the Adirondacks, was an environmentalist long before its time. He spent his golden years doing what he love to do, feeding the many birds and animals that shared the mountains with him, and occasionally entertaining visitors to the museum with stories about the Iroquois. He passed away in November 2008, at the age of 98.

His books include Sacred Song of the Hermit Thrush, Legends of the Iroquois, Wampum Belts of the Iroquois,and Roots of the Iroquois.