Challenging Cultural Dominance Continuums in Heritage Representation: Expanding the Narrative of a Native America in the Adirondack Park


            Lia Maria Schifitto

   Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
         M.A. in Sustainable Cultural Heritage

The American University of Rome

December 2017

The candidate confirms that the work submitted is his/her own and that appropriate credit has been given where reference has been made to the work of others.

Lia Schifitto



To the mystical Adirondack Mountains, all who let me hear their stories, and to my loving family and friends for their support.


A special thank you to Curt Stager, Tim Messener, David Starbuck, Chuck Vandrei, Tom Lake, John Fadden, Don Stevens, Kay Olan, Roy Hurd, and Emily Pierini.




The supervisor of this thesis was Emily Pierini, PhD.




               Word Count: 30,226



This thesis tackles the often understudied issue of Western dominance in American heritage narratives. The case study is the Adirondack Park, located in Upstate New York and the largest public wilderness park in the United States. One of the first regions to designate land for environmental preservation, people living in the Adirondacks today and those who come to enjoy the space recreationally, feel passionately about Adirondack preservation efforts. The narrative, however, from which this identity in the landscape is formed, is based on roughly 200 years of history; missing from the general public’s knowledge and understanding of the region is thousands of years of Native American presence and influence. This thesis seeks to understand how American Indian culture is commonly misrepresented in American heritage narratives. The Adirondacks acts as a specific example of this in the texts, institutions, and general history readily available of the area. Furthermore, we must ask how this is shaping Americans’ perception of culture and the past. This thesis argues that increased representation, which brings environment into the Adirondacks’ cultural heritage, can act as one way to change the dialogue and increase a platform for Native American communities today. Such strides can aid in the preservation of their rich histories, traditions, and connections to the landscape.


Key Words: cultural landscape, heritage, representation, New York


Table of Contents 







Table of Contents………………………………………………………5


List of Abbreviations…………………………………………………..7


List of Figures………………………………………………………….8


Chapter One:

Introduction …………………………………………………………...12


Chapter Two:

Literature Review: Discourse in Scholarly Sources…………………...21 

1.1      Native American Invisibility in the Adirondacks……………………21 

1.2         Stereotyping & Appropriation: The Noble Savage……………38 

1.3   What is Heritage? Different Forms of Preservation…………54 


Chapter Three:



Chapter Four:

Recognizing Native Heritage in the Adirondack Landscape

Analysis of Research Question One……………………………………75


Chapter Five:

Ending Western Cultural Heritage Dominance in the Adirondacks

Analysis of Research Question Two……………………………………99


Chapter Six:





Appendix A: Case Books ……………………………………………...128

A.1 Casebook1: Camp Santanoni Participants…………………………….129

A. 2 Casebook 2: Individual Interviews……………………………….132


Appendix B: Interview Materials ………………………………………134

B.1 Interview Information Form……………………………………………135

B.2 Interview Consent Sheet…………………………………………. 136

B.3 Casebook 1 (Camp Santanoni) Interview Question Sheet……137


 Appendix C: Interview Transcripts/Notes……………………………..138

C.1 Casebook 1……………………………………………………………139

C.2 Casebook 2………………………………………………………158


                                        List of Abbreviations


1.      DEC: Department of Environmental Conservation

2.      UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization

3.      AIM: American Indian Movement

4.      NAGPRA: Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act

5.      CBC: Canadian Broadcasting Company


                                                List of Figures

1.      Maps 


Fig. 1.1

Map of New York State, showing the location of the Adirondack Park …………………10


Fig. 1.2

Official DEC Map of the Adirondack Park………………………………………………11


2.      Photographs 


Fig. 2.1

Photograph of Great Camp Santanoni ……………………………………………………13


Fig. 2.2

Photograph of Great Camp Santanoni ……………………………………………………14


Fig. 2.3

Photograph of Santanoni Mountain………………………………………………………14


Fig. 2.4

Photograph of Boy Scout Indian Lore illustrations……………………………………….53



Photograph of Map Display of Adirondacks with markers

for archeological sites found (Adirondack Museum) …………………………………….89


Fig. 2.6

Photograph of Adirondack Museum on Blue Mountain Lake,

Peopled Wilderness Exhibit……………………………………………………………….90


Fig. 2.7

Photograph of Basket Weaving Display at Adirondack Museum…………………………90


Fig. 2.8

Photograph of Interviewing Camp Santanoni Tourists…………………………………….93


Fig. 2.9

Photograph of Chateauguay Lake Pottery Shards at Six Nations Museum……………….110


Fig. 2.10

Photograph of Dugout Canoe found in Lake Placid at Six Nations Museum…………........110



Fig. 2.11

Photograph of Abenaki Heritage Festival Drum Circle……………………………...........112


Fig. 2.12 

Photograph of Abenaki Heritage Festival Drum Circle……………………………….113 


3.    Diagrams


Fig. 3.1 Cultural Dominance Continuum ……………………………………………...120

Fig. 3.2 Age Range of Camp Santanoni Interviewees ………………………………...130

Fig. 3.3 Distance Traveled of Camp Santanoni Interviewees …………………………131

         Maps for Reference




Map of New York State, showing the location of the Adirondack Park






Official DEC Map of the Adirondack Park



Chapter One


The Adirondack Park is to some, an amazing feat of environmental conservation. To others, it is a forcing of tourism on a region that originally thrived on industrialism. To few, it is a place of colonialism; a global phenomenon linked to guilt, fear, and myth.  The Adirondacks finds itself in this larger narrative of conquering, destroying, and removing. Euro-American perspectives on the region’s history have little room for non-White stories and landscapes. This has emerged from a lack of thorough research combined with the continued misuse of Indian[1]-inspired iconography. Insignificant are Indians in American heritage narratives. Moreover, in many parts of the United States, land seems to have been always in the hands of white settlers; land was something owned, by purchase, from another white landowner. However, this is not the case. 

This thesis will ask two central questions to research this cultural heritage phenomenon. The first seeks to understand ownership of heritage narratives: What is the public perception of Native American presence and influence in the Adirondack Park, compared to representation in relevant literature? The second question is based in exploring wider heritage definitions: How do we expand and educate accurately the public of Native American heritage in the Adirondacks? These two research questions will be answered through an evaluation of relevant sources in the Literature Review, and in analyzing ethnographic data gathered during fieldwork at Santanoni.

The construction of the research direction began from a name, Santanoni. Santanoni is a peak in the Adirondack Mountain Range, located in Northern New York State. It also is the name of a nature preserve located in Newcomb, New York, which is operated by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). On the preserve there is an Adirondack Great Camp that bears the name of the peak. It is the place I spent the summer of 2017 exploring and preserving. Yet, more importantly, it became a symbol for the miseducation of Native American heritage in the region, and thus my interest in researching the topic further. Working as a historical landmark tour guide, I met and spoke with visitors daily, engaging them in the history of the region. When I was not engaging tourists, I was working on the preservation of the physical buildings of the site. I was given the opportunity to see preservation from various perspectives. Furthermore, I realized the role I played in giving people a narrative of heritage in the Adirondacks. I made a point to discuss Native American heritage in the region because it became obvious few did.



[1] The use of the names Indian and Native American will both appear throughout the thesis. In consulting living Indians, they tell me that is what they usually call themselves (Indian). In reading academic literature, Native American is predominantly used. In the book, A History of Native American Land Rights in Upstate New York, author Cindy Amrhein address the reader in explaining the book’s use of the title, Indian. She says, people she spoke with of Native ancestry, want to be called Indian because that is what is written in land treaties. She interprets this as a fear of losing rights if being referred to an identity not on the treaties (Amrhein 2016, 2). In the end, I decided to use both Native American and Indian on the precedent that I also use both White and Euro-American when referring to Caucasian settlers in the United States.  The idea here is to talk about the two groups on equal terms, using both ‘politically correct’ and more colloquial but non-offensive titles of reference in the discussion.




An Adirondack Great Camp is a structure referring to large, private estates built by wealthy businessmen and socialites in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Santanoni, as I would tell visitors who came for a tour of the 16,000 square foot Main House, was part of a larger trend at the time of retreating to natural landscapes. Robert Pruyn was the original proprietor of Camp Santanoni, a successful banker from Albany who made his money as Director of National Commercial Bank, now called Key Bank.


Fig. 2.2

Interestingly, Pruyn considered himself a conservator of the environment and over the course of approximately twenty years, he accumulated 12,900 acres of land. This property included several small ponds and streams, three smaller mountains, a lake (Newcomb Lake), and the once public logging and mining road. His purchase of the land came from the ideal of privacy in having a gentleman’s estate, but also in blocking off the land from industrial development. By preventing mining and logging on large scales, Pruyn believed he was part of a larger cause in the 1880s and 1890s in the Adirondacks, to let the forest go back to its’ natural state, a state of ‘wilderness.’



Yet, what many may overlook, is that in forming this Adirondack precedent, there is an assumption that before European settlement and development, the land was uninhabited and a place of pure wildness. So how does the story of Santanoni and the Adirondack region provoke a challenge to the Western dominated heritage narrative? It started with investigating its origins. Santanoni is one of the many names that stands out in the Adirondack Park. Some names of mountains and towns come from Euro-American namesakes, or clear Americanization of Indian terms and titles. However, among the names, there are some with less clear origins. The name Adirondack is believed to be the Iroquois word for Algonquians, translated as ‘bark eater’. This has been popularized since the French and British began conquest of the Eastern seaboard, when the Algonquians sided with the French and the British formed alliance with the Iroquois, increasing conflict between the two and perhaps resulting in a derogatory name (Donaldson 1922, 35). If one consults Kanien’keha: An Open Source Endangered Language Initiative, an online resource of the Mohawk or Kanien’keha Nation, one can find the root word, ‘Ratiron:taks,’ which translates as ‘Algonquin people.’ [1]



[1] The literal meaning of the word is ‘They eat trees,’ but there are alternative spellings/pronunciations with their own definitions. ‘Rontsha’ka:nons’, ‘Atsha’ka:nons’,  translate as ‘They gnaw on their lips,’ explained by the fact that the Algonquin language has m/p/b sounds while the Mohawk language does not. The other set of alternatives to Ratiron:taks is ‘Rontewa’ka:nons’ and ‘Atewaka:nons’ which translates as ‘They gnaw on their words’ ( Theories that do not include starvation and ‘savage’ Indians seem less enthralling to Americana culture however; consider that bark is used in natural medicine. Several types of trees local to the Adirondack Forest could be consumed including Birch and Cedar which can be used in teas to relieve pains and fevers and clean teeth.

While the name of the entire region ascribes Native American presence, their stories are rarely told or even acknowledged in Adirondack heritage today. The name Santanoni[1] continues this pattern; its origins are believed to be from an encounter between Abenaki (of the Algonquian) and French Catholic missionaries. Santanoni is said to be derived from the name of Italian saint, Anthony of Padua (In French: San Antoine, in Italian: Sant’Antonio). Santanoni embodies an Abenaki ‘corruption’ or mockery of the saint’s name Europeans called the region around the high peak (Engel et al. 2009, 34-35). The argument can be made for this theory based on the following factors: first, the Italian spelling and pronunciation of the Saint’s name, ‘Sant’Antonio,’ has an unquestionable similarity to its current name, Santanoni, second, if one listens to the Abenaki language, there is considerable pronunciation of the vowels sounds (The Adirondack Museum) and the way the name is said is by pronouncing all the vowels clearly, as in, san-tan-o-ni, and third,, mockery or disdain towards European missionaries by Indians would have been normal and expected.[2] As I began to work in the Adirondacks and learn these facts about the region, it confused and frustrated me that these ubiquitous pieces of history were not well researched or well known while the region’s environmental preservation is widely celebrated.

There are some more general patterns in American history that make the case study of the Adirondack Park an important one in expanding heritage representation. Fields & Fields (2014) identify that there has been what is called ‘racecraft’ in creating American culture, society, and economy. Race is a fabrication; it is a definition and belief created by Whites yet has no scientific basis in organizing human beings. Race has become something that is used and abused in organizing groups of people, linked in class inequality and cyclical poverty. Native Americans are not a separate race to Euro-Americans, they are different cultures or ethnicities; this idea of race has plagued American Indians like all non-Whites (Fields & Fields 2014, 265-266). Moreover, bias based on race has become subtler and harder to solve: “In racial disguise, inequality wears a surface camouflage that makes inequality in its most general form…that which marks and distorts every aspect of our social and political life—hard to see, harder to discuss, and nearly impossible to tackle” (Fields & Fields 2014, 268). The reasoning and continuation of American Indian invisibility represents the difficultly of solving race-based discrimination in all facets of American society.

One central facet is based in economies. The concept progress and civilization have become embedded in how American society views and understands Native American heritage. The belief that capitalism, development, and material possession equates to success and importance often acts as the basis for the argument that non-Western cultures are not meant to survive and sustain in what should be a Western-dominated world. All American high school students learn of Adam Smith and his capitalistic market theory of ‘the invisible hand,’ meant to represent the benefits of a self-regulated market economy of supply and demand. [3] Harkin (2012) utilizes Adam Smith’s historiography to argue that while Western society latched onto the progress of society and economy towards industry, materialism, and a further distancing from the ‘wild,’ Smith himself questioned the ultimate truth in such ideals. Harkin explains that Smith saw that assuming the ‘Age of Commerce’ as the final destination for the human race, claimed one way of living was superior without real challenge (Harkin 2002, 21-22).  Communities that live off the land and in harmony with it do not fit this idea of progress.  Harkin states that in analyzing Smith, one can identify his own curiosity in understanding the question: what is progress? (Harkin 2002, 29-30).  As this thesis explores the need to rewrite the American historical narrative, questions including what is progress, success, and status will be asked of the reader in challenging Western cultural dominance.

 There will be discussion in this thesis involving three main Native American communities. One group comes from the united tribes of Upstate New York known today as the Six Nations, commonly referred to as the Iroquois. [4] Their name in their own language means ‘they build a longhouse’ or ‘of the longhouse,’ written as Haudenosaunee. The Six Nations includes the Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Tuscarora (Six Nations Museum). The nation of prime focus will be the Mohawk. Along with the Mohawk, this thesis will discuss Abenaki presence. Lastly, there will be discourse of the Mohicans of the Eastern Algonquians, specifically of the Delaware Nation (Tom Lake, Lecture ESF).   The Mohawk, Abenaki, and Mohican have appeared in archeological surveys, family lineages, primary sources, and natural history amongst other sources, which led to identifying their place in the narrative of Adirondack heritage.  

The main argument this thesis seeks to discuss is that without American Indian presence, the region would lack much of its influence and roots in shaping the celebrated Adirondack culture. This thesis does not wish to celebrate Indian heritage as only a part of history, but also recognize how their culture(s) helps shape the identity of the Adirondacks today. The central point of the thesis’s argument is thus that this phenomenon receives little attention in heritage representation locally and nationally, creating a dominant and dominated cultural divide in American society (Bourdieu 1989, 17).

The structure of the thesis will therefore follow as such: Chapter Two will review sources which claim information on the Adirondacks, the American Indian in American culture, and how the two contrasting topics reveal data towards the need to increase education and political voice of Native Americans in heritage preservation. Chapter Three will provide the methodology utilized in the fieldwork conducted. Chapters Four and Five will seek to engage with the fieldwork conducted in conjunction with the Literature. Chapter Six will conclude what the research and literature has presented regarding the main issues located and set to resolve.  Additionally, the conclusion will include a cultural dominance continuum; the diagram will be an accumulation of data from relevant literature and fieldwork. The continuum demonstrates clear patterns in how non-white cultural heritage is trapped in a cycle of substandard representation and respect. The continuum thus offers answers to the research questions as well as possible solutions to the thesis’s main argument.  

Consequently, the focus of this thesis and its structure is based in the recognition that one cannot talk about and work towards the preservation of cultural heritage without being conscious of and inspired by, the social justice aspects of such initiatives. Social justice, for the purpose of this thesis, is based in the realm of heritage. In this context, a community or culture that receives less representation, funding, recognition, etc. than another community or culture is more likely to be understood and treated unequally in a country’s economy, politics, and society than the cultures better represented, funded, recognized. Thus, equalizing heritage dominance in the United States can be seen as social justice initiative in several ways.

 Robert Duffy (2016) writes of a Professor of Historic Preservation, Max Page, who is advocating for a deeper perspective on preserving and representing history: “…His [Page’s] conviction [is] that social justice considerations be included in official thinking about historic preservation – preservation not only of our silent past but of our vocal and distressing present” (Duffy 2016, Web).  To Page, we cannot separate history from its people, and the stories not being told of the past reflect issues afflicting such communities today. Duffy goes on to quote Page, who stated, “The preservation movement…should be toward building a more just society” (Duffy 2016, Web). In studying the Adirondacks, Page’s convictions shine through in studying Native American heritage’s underrepresentation and miseducation across the state of New York.  It thus becomes our duty to study and educate of the histories less told. This thesis could explore so much further and deeper, but as there are time and space limitations, the goal of the research questions to identify the main issue(s), consider the variables behind it, and provoke the status quo in promoting possible solution.


                                                      Chapter Two

                 Literature Review

              This Literature Review seeks to consider the current scholarly literature accessible to the interested reader. Perspectives are from anthropologists, historians, environmentalists, archaeologists, journalists, and figures both White and Indian, broken into three sub-topics of discussion. The first topic, “Native American Invisibility in the Adirondacks,” focuses solely on the region of the thesis’s case study. The Literature Review will then move on to broader themes with which the Adirondacks intersects. The second topic, “Stereotyping & Appropriation: The Noble Savage,” considers the selective adoption of Native American culture and belief systems in creating myths of Indian presence and significance. The third topic, “What is Heritage: Different Forms of Preservation,” reflects upon the previous topics in light of the issue of recognizing and protecting non-Western heritage in the United States. These themes highlight the ways in which American Indians have gone underrepresented in the Adirondacks, beckoning systems larger than the region in the continuation of a Western dominated historical narrative.  Each section will offer both academic and non-academic literature pertinent to identifying and examining the factors of cultural dominance in heritage representation.

2.1 Native American Invisibility in the Adirondacks

How scholars have approached writing surrounding Native American presence in the Adirondacks is varied to some degree, but often falls into the category of under-researched and over-stated. Most scholarly sources one can find about the ‘complete’ history of the Adirondacks glaze over briefly the topic of Native American presence.  However, others take the time to delve deeper and look through historical documents, artifacts, and folklore in understanding the Adirondacks’ first dwellers. While the list of documents accurately informing readers of indigenous history is slim, those available do allow much needed insight on the topic. Reviewed below is a select group of sources. What is interesting to consider is each author’s interpretation and presentation of the past.

Underlying the discussion of Native American invisibility in the Adirondacks is a theory from French scholar, Pierre Bourdieu (1989). Bourdieu (1989) argues that power is socially and culturally recreated in ways that may mask themselves as natural but are far from it. This hierarchy, according to Bourdieu, is symbolic to primitive but also economic, cultural, and politic controls on a given society (Bourdieu 1989, 16-18). The symbolic power in a social space is normalized through a word used often by Bourdieu: habitus. The sociological terms states that (in the context of Bourdieu’s argument) power constructs become embedded in individuals and communities, presenting themselves as natural and even static. Bourdieu discusses the issue of repeatedly creating societies who have a “vision of divisions” (Bourdieu 1989, 17). Bourdieu’s theories on power and how it masks itself hold important truth to considering the Adirondack Park.

Specifically, Bourdieu’s commentary on how societies come to have a ‘vision of divisions’ begs the historian to ask how this shapes heritage representation. Creating a dominant and dominated culture, how much room is there really for American Indian heritage in the Adirondack cultural heritage from a historically White perspective? How power manifests, is not simply in the economy, government, and cultural tastes. One may argue, it also affects how the history of a nation is told; even in claiming how a nation’s cultural identity was formed. Therefore, there must be creative methods of uncovering a larger picture of the past in places like the Adirondacks. 

To understand Indian influence and presence throughout the history of the Adirondack region, European land acquisition can offer significant evidence. However, while New York was one of the first North American areas colonized by Europeans, the Adirondacks remained absent from land purchase documentation. This has made it considerably more difficult to locate previous inhabitants in the vast region of Upstate New York.[5] Cindy Amrhein (2016) seeks to explore the history of land treaties, bribery, and manipulation of the law in New York State.[6]  She analyzes the vital treaties[7] which altered Indian land in New York in the nineteenth century specifically. Her writing is well researched and there is clear consultation with Indians from the communities she writes about. However, Amrhein stays close to known treaties and disputes. This disallows research that is truly cumulative, specifically concerning the Adirondack Park region of Upstate New York; she glazes over a six-million-acre region while solely Franklin County’s Native population is discussed. [8] Amrhein’s research limits reveal a larger trend in misallocating pre-European presence in less documented regions like the Adirondacks.

Alfred L. Donaldson (1922) offers more detail in Adirondack land purchases.[9] Donaldson identifies central land purchases which formed the Adirondack Park overtime. There appear to have been two main purchases, one which was lacking from analysis in Amrhein (2016), the Totten and Crossfield Purchase.[10] Homesteading in the Adirondacks began in the eighteenth century, allowing more interest, maps, and records starting at this time.[11] Donaldson states: “The error is often made of assuming that this low price was the ultimate cost to the buyers, but it was merely what it cost to get the land away from the Indians-to get it away from his sacred Majesty was a much more expensive matter” (Donaldson 1922, 55).  Earlier in Adirondack historical narrative,  Donaldson presents there was the concept that the Adirondack region was in some sense of ownership by Indian nations and that it was purchased from Indians by Whites prior to the outbreak  of war in 1766.[12] In considering the evidence Donaldson offers, there is still considerable knowledge missing prior to White land purchase. There seems to have been Indian ownership, but the outbreak of war, and sale from Indians to the British Crown (later, U.S. government) to American business men, creates a difficult trace to follow, one which Donaldson does not explore beyond European roles.

Karl Jacoby (2014) identifies Native American residents early on in Adirondack modern history while challenging the idealization of the region’s environmental movement. His ethnographic and social research is found in objects, photographs and stories, along with standard forms of scholarly literature. He states that legislation to conserve the Adirondacks, which had been nearly cleared by industry, began in 1885 in an alliance between academics and business owners[13] within the State of New York. He claims this mission of environmental protection had ulterior motives based in classism and racism.[14] Jacoby argues the creation of the Forest Preserve exaggerated ecological changes[15] in keeping the land from blue-collared business in order for laws pass faster (Jacoby 2014, 25).[16]

Jacoby uses census records[17] to locate both working class White and Indian residents in the Park. He reveals that the two groups followed a sustenance much closer to hunting and gathering of local wildlife and plants (Jacoby 2014, 23-24). Native Americans can thus be studied as having similar livelihoods and diet of White lower class families in the 1800s in the Adirondacks. A testament to the fusion of cultures, European and Indian, can also be observed in Adirondack material culture.[18] Jacoby presents a narrative which allows one to consider the fact that there most certainly were Native Americans in the region as it became one of the first natural parks in the world.

Melissa Otis (2014) extends the exploration of Indians in white settlement periods. Otis (2014) proposes that Native Americans of Mohawk and Abenaki descent including the Odanak were not only present at and before European contact, but as the American culture was forming in the 1800s and 1900s. She states, “Although there is no proof of permanent, year-round village settlement in the region, there is a plethora of evidence of their seasonal occupation on a year-round basis as well as cultural ties, including stories and burial sites” (Otis 2014, 556-557).  Otis points to the fact that Indian presence in the region is not based solely on remains, but in the culture behind them in known oral traditions and sacred places.

Referencing Jacoby (2014), Otis deduces that the Adirondack region, before colonial hostilities and violence, had been recognized as Iroquois territory. When the Revolutionary War came to a close in the early 1780s, some Mohawk, Abenaki, and Odanak (St. Francis) settled with their families in the Adirondack region, living on homesteads year-round (Otis 2014, 557). After the Revolutionary War, Euro-Americans began to move in for industry jobs.[19] Along with white settlers, Indians began moving into the Adirondacks, living in villages and towns and partaking in the forming of Adirondack heritage. Otis explains that as tourism in the Adirondacks increased greatly by the late 1800s, wealthy families would hire guides with experience in the landscape for exploration purposes; many Native Americans took these jobs as they were the most knowledgeable. Otis presents this part of history as less told but vital in understanding a more holistic narrative.

Unfortunately, similar scholarly narratives often leave out the research and recognition of Indian culture and inhabitants. Philip G. Terrie (1994) offers a declaration of minimal significance of pre-European connection to the region. Terrie was curator of the respected Adirondack Museum on Blue Mountain Lake for many years and was well known as a scholar of Adirondack History. His book of Adirondack cultural history can be found almost everywhere in the Adirondacks. However, his presentation of a pre-European Adirondacks aids in widespread miseducation about Native Americans in the Adirondacks. Terrie creates the allusion of a wild Adirondacks that Europeans found in pristine, untouched condition. When referring to his sources regarding Indian presence, they appear almost non-existent; in the Notes section, Terrie references only three sources[20], all of which are outdated.[21]

A book by Terrie, published just three years later, claims to present a change in the scholar’s perspectives on Adirondack history. Terrie (1997) admits that his own work has been narrow and elitist (Terrie 1997, xv).  The scholar discusses the fact that books on the history of the Adirondacks are often too focused on the politics of the upper class and the romanticized landscape, without truly engaging the reader in a complete historical narrative (Terrie 1997, xv-xvi). Contrary to Terrie (1994), he has more to say in 1997 regarding Native Americans but deduces that we have lost their connection to the region.[22] He writes, “It is a shame that we do not have the Mohawk and Algonquin stories...” (Terrie 1997, xviii). Terrie does not consider other means of research like archeology or oral history in uncovering Native nations’ perspectives.

Terrie decides to instead focus on conflicts of class and the Adirondacks, a reoccurring historical theme.[23] Terrie makes no real strides in his 1997 book beyond recognizing indigenous existence more truthfully: “The earliest stories about the Adirondack landscape were undoubtedly told by Native Americans—hunters, warriors, or traders…But what the Adirondacks as a place meant to these people has not survived…” (Terrie 1997, 3). Terrie assumes there are no stories yet here is no provided research or consultation with living Native Americans in the region (Terrie 1997, 3-5).[24]  There is a constant assumption that the climate, lifestyles, and warfare reveal minimal Indian presence throughout history.

 Paul Schneider (1998) also seeks to tell the tale of Adirondack landscape and environmental conservation, yet falls into similar ethnic biases shared by Terrie. Schneider provides a primary chapter touching on Native presence to set the stage for the Euro-American historical narrative. He includes a primary source written in 1609 stating that Natives came onto a Dutch ship.[25] Schneider assumes this group of American Indians were most likely Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), specifically Mohawk (Schneider 1998, 15-16).[26] While Schneider locates Mohawk presence, he discredits significant heritage of Abenaki (Algonquian) Indians.  Schneider offers readers the idea that lowlands surrounding the region would have been more suitable for Indians (Schneider 1998, 16). Here again we see this commonly held belief in how the landscape would have been used yet Schneider, like others, does not have a background in evolutionary biology, archeology, or natural science. His sources are varied, some from primary accounts and some more academic sources and his conclusions are simplistic, allowing little insight (Schneider 1998, 337).

 Kevin Sheets and Randi Storch (2016) adopt a similar narrative in their article when discussing the significance of the Adirondacks in U.S. history. Writing from the Cortland State College, their interest is in bringing to light the importance of the Adirondacks in larger historical events at the time.  Sheets and Storch identify that when studying the Gilded or Golden Age of Industry to the Progressive Era and World War I, there is often little to no mention of the Adirondacks, which during this time period, was a region forming one of the world’s first public environmental conservation parks (Sheets & Storch 2016, 1).[27] They write, “Except to those Mohawk, Iroquoian, and Algonquian-speaking communities who used the region seasonally for hunting, the Adirondacks remained a blank spot on the map” (Sheet & Storch 2016, 1).  This statement is eminent of oversimplified history. Furthermore, it suggests that if it was not known or used by Euro-Americans, it was not a place of significant cultural heritage before white man’s arrival. It is interesting to consider that Sheets and Storch identify the lack of literature on the Adirondacks but do not seem to realize their exclusion of pre-European inhabitants’ heritage.

Russell M.L. Carson (1928) offers more evidence of Indian presence by discussing the history of namesakes and famous individuals in the forming of the Adirondacks. In locating Indian presence in the region, Carson quotes Professor Emmons who recorded in 1834: “The Adirondacks or Algonquians in early times held all the country north of the Mohawk, west of the Champlain, south of Lower Canada, and east of the St. Lawrence River, west of the Champlain, south of Lower Canada, and east of the St. Lawrence River” (Carson 1928, 9). Carson presents the Eastern Adirondack region as Algonquin territory and that there was conflict for the region Emmons calls the Agoneseah, an alternate spelling of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois (Six Nations).  Carson agrees with Emmons in writing, “...It is well known that the Adirondacks resided in and occupied a part of this northern section of the state…” (Carson 1928, 9). It is interesting to consider his openness to the concept of Indian presence, writing in the 1920s compared to publications of Terrie and Schneider of modern times.

However, contemporary writer Stephen B. Sulavik (2005) discusses Algonquin and Iroquois history in the Adirondacks in significant detail, even if remaining focused on periods of European contact[28] (Sulavik 2005, 1-16). Sulavik finds his data in primary sources: maps, journals, letters. Archeology and natural science was also consulted in presenting ideas. Sulavik locates two main communities in and around the Adirondack region before and during European occupation. The Iroquois would have been in the Adirondack region, argues Sulavik, specifically the Mohawk. The other main group identified is the Algonquin. Sulavik offers the reader direct migration and presence of American Indian communities in the Adirondack region, referencing respected scholars and sources (Sulavik 2005,13-20).[29]

The value of Sulavik’s publication is in his use of comprehensive sources to explain a more detailed account of the Adirondacks pre- European inhabitants.[30] While the focus is still on ‘recorded’ history in the Western frame of historiography, the lack of bias apparent in Sulavik’s writing and factual evidence invites a more holistic perspective. He does not repeat the over-stated theories perpetuating Indian invisibility. Sulavik demonstrates that the whole story is there, but research needs to be done with creative and careful methods.

Yet, scholars and the general public often need more tangible evidence to believe Indian heritage is in the Adirondack region; archeological remains can offer this.[31] David Starbuck (2014) has propelled the use of archeology in recording the presence of Native Americans in the Adirondack region. Starbuck (2014) identifies the Lake George Region of the Adirondack Park (the South-West corner) to have been inhabited by Indians for thousands of years. Starbuck writes that archeological evidence first unearthed in the 1950s would have been most likely of the Mohican nations.[32] The archaeological remains located Indians as early as 8000 to 6000 BCE, in and around the Adirondack region. Pottery shards, projectile points, tools, and blades reveal considerable Native American settlement (Starbuck 2014,11-13). Starbuck remarks that the remains found back in the mid-nineteenth century, as well as his digs (in 2011 to 2012) include rich collections of prehistoric artifacts.[33] The evidence recorded provides concrete evidence of Native American presence, but it was found through the interest and resources of studying the Revolutionary War. The minimal archeological research in the Adirondacks can be attributed to a variety of factors. However, the fact that Euro-Americans are willing to fund digs for Western culture more often has no doubt dictated the historical narrative.[34]

The New York State Museum at Albany has one of the largest collections of archeological artifacts from the Adirondack region. They have been digitally cataloging the artifacts by each of the ten counties included in the Park. Anthropology Collections Manager, Andrea Lain, allowed me to view the full list of all sixty pre-historic, pre-contact, and historic (during or after contact) sites. While Lain explains some sites only border and are not all distinctly within the Park, the fact that they found multiple sites eligible for National Register Listing[35] sferred into visual measurement.nsaredacksrime example of ulated: iseducation, oversimplification, and policy. offers indisputable evidence of Indian presence and use of the landscape.[36] Knowledge or public awareness of archeological surveys and discoveries is still traditionally kept in the world of anthropologists, archeologists, and their connected universities and museums.[37] Yet considering the State Museum’s collection, discussing the findings of Indian presence more openly could offer much in expanding their narrative in the region.[38]

Lynn Woods (1994) offers a thorough account of the history of Indian presence in the Adirondack region. Woods (1994) uses archeology and natural science to trace the locations and connections made by Native Americans thousands of years before European settlement as well as during contact periods.[39] She states that while hunting settlements may not have been year round homes for American Indians, they no doubt would have formulated cultural ties to the region, even becoming part of folklore and ceremonial rituals (Woods 1994, Web). Moreover, Woods argues that there is ample evidence to promote this information more widely in the Adirondacks, “The presence of Native Americans in the region in relatively recent times is…an untold tale…The culture of … guideboats, lumber camps, mines, Great Camps…is a mere sliver in the mile-long slice of time representing Indian occupation” (Woods 1994, Web). Woods attributes this misinformation to the lack of guaranteed findings swaying some archeologists away from surveying the region, compared to other well established areas. She also presents the idea that a portion of Indian settlement was along water ways which have shifted considerably due to man made dams and natural causes. Additionally, Woods states that frequently Indian ‘relics’ or remains have been kept privately, stolen, or destroyed.[40] These aspects have aided in the dismissal of considerable influence and presence of Native Americans in the region.[41]

Curt Stager (2017) combats traditional ideas about the Adirondack Region[42]  by using his knowledge of the environment. Stager is a natural science professor at the local university, Paul Smith’s College. Stager is not an anthropologist or archeologist, but his knowledge of natural science history led him to explore the region’s original inhabitants. Considering two ice ages which occurred in Upstate New York, Stager argues the Adirondacks would have been very much habitable for Native Americans, specifically in the Late Archaic period. He relates such ideas to archeological remains.[43] Stager is not only interested in relevant evidence of Indian presence in the Adirondacks, but also in interpreting why the general public disregards such history.[44]

Stager points to recent finds and continued excavation which has expanded upon Wood’s article.[45] Stager argues the lack of Indians in the region today add to the Western dominance of recalling past; he blames disease and war for killing off a majority of such communities during European contact. By the time written records were being produced, few Indians were still living in the mountains, making it seem the land was simply for the Euro-American’s taking and that previous native settlement was a myth (Stager 2017, 60-61). Stager writes, “The blending of people and wilderness in the Adirondacks was not invented with the establishment of hotels, colleges or the Blue Line.[46] It is thousands of years old…” (Stager 2017, 62). For Stager, it is a fairly new revelation that the heritage taught and celebrated in the Adirondacks tells a specific story, namely a White one. However, it is never too late to change this supremacy.

Non-Academic Literature

Regional folklore is vital in understanding cultural history and its perceptions today. The following two sources offer non-academic perspectives to examine the literature topic. The use of legend and lore in understanding Native presence can be studied in a publication from the the 1930s. Eleanor Early (1939) presents a collection of stories, both fiction and nonfiction, which involve the Adirondack region. One story entitled, “The Holy Savage,” follows Father Jogues[47] in his attempt to convert ‘heathen’ Indians around Lake George; the Indians in the tale are almost always identified as Iroquois (Early 1939,119-121).[48] Another legend tells the Saranac Indians’ story of the birth of the water lily (Early 1939, 147). This tale places Saranac Indians in the region as well as presenting Native connection to the landscape, specifically in the Saranac Lake region. [49]

Early describes what the Adirondacks would have been like before Whites, writing “Men used to call them the Great North Woods, and they were filled with moose and wolves...There were Indians too, but they were mostly good natured” (Early 1939, 5). She tells the story of a simple wilderness, and although she is demeaning Indians, it does include them in the spatial orientation of the Adirondacks. Early’s inclusion of Indian namesakes and legends places them in the region as well as being capable of forming a sense of cultural connection to the mountainous landscape.[50] In regards to the fifth tallest peak in the Adirondacks, Whiteface Mt, she declared that another community had its own name: “The Iroquois Indians called the mountain [Whiteface] ‘Theanoquen,’ which was the name of a great war chief who had a white scalplock. And the Algonquians called it “Wahopartenie,” … ‘it is white’ (Early 1939, 158). Whether they are completely credible or more folk tale, these legends’ existence expands the narrative, challenging the belief that Native American were hardly present and if they were, it was long before the White man.

 Don Bowman (1993) reflects upon Native American heritage from a Native American perspective, telling stories that are not all ancient in origin and mixing stories from the 19th and 20th centuries with traditional tales. The Sacandaga Valley, as explained in his book, was flooded by one of the many dams built in the Adirondacks waterways in the 20th century (Bowman 1993, xiii). The Sacandaga Valley is now Great Sacandaga Lake or Reservoir and lies along the Southwest section of the Adirondack Park. Contemplating the literature previously discussing Native American presence in the Adirondacks, few scholars connect to any modern presence of Indian communities in history, save for the work of Melissa Otis (2015) and Karl Jacoby (2014).

The dam that was built reveals a Native American community’s rooted existence within the Adirondack Park: “When notices that the valley was to be flooded…Sacandaga Valley memories and claims and kin stretched five and more generations in one familiar place” (Bowman 1993, xiv).[51] (Bowman 1993, xv). The stories vary in subject, telling tales of the forming of the lily pad and seeking out a shaman on a mountain to stop a great forest fire, to more recent stories of Sacandaga townspeople. They reflect cultural connection to the landscape in its most authentic form: an attachment to a place and its people (Bowman 1993, 1-40).  Not dismissing the significance of ancient settlement, the modernity of certain stories aids in a more viable connection to expanding the ‘American’ hold on  the region’s heritage representation. Perhaps, this can create a deeper understanding of Indian influence and presence in the region, beyond what Euro-Americans claim their history was and is.


2.2 Stereotyping & Appropriation: The Noble Savage

Cultural appropriation is something that occurs everyday. Yet when it is carried out in a way that degrades and objectifies a community, it is harmful on many levels. Furthermore, it presents the idea that a culture has disappeared, allowing its use and even its manipulation. In shaping the outdoorsman, the Adirondacks borrowed much from its Native American communities, despite the general belief that they were never permanently in the region and not of significant impact. The irony of such perception represents issues which occur elsewhere in the United States. This section of the literature review seeks to address Indian stereotypes from various points of view. The main manipulation of Indian identity to be discussed is the figure of the ‘Noble Savage.’ The Noble Savage is the accumulation of two hundred years of serotyping; a non-threatening, child-like, godless yet simple and earth loving entity, equated more to a fabrication of reality than a human being.  The use of such imagery understates the bigotry towards Indians and remains a key variable in understanding the prominence of the belief that they are no longer present. Furthermore, it assists in explaining public perception of Indian impact and historical placement in American cultural heritage.

Like any lasting stereotype, there is some truth and some myth to the framework grouping a diverse people into singular descriptions and characteristics. The Noble Savage blends positivity with negativity in its imagery of Indian communities, but one ideal reveals itself clearest: a sense of powerlessness. The most important aspect of the Noble Savage and the most decisive reason for its continuity is that it continues to subject Native Americans to the placement of second-class citizens. Nevertheless, scholars have argued for and against this idea of living close to the Earth when depicting Indians in the United States. This section seeks to engage in such dialogue with the goal of understanding the stereotype and its role in the case study of the Adirondack Park.

Christopher Vecsey and Robert W. Venables (1980) seek to evaluate the effect of stereotyping on Native Americans and their representation in the past and present. They write, “Since white America’s wealth has come directly from the taking of Indian land, whites have been willing to espouse an ideology in which Indians have been made inanimate…” (Vecsey & Venables 1980, 36). This frame of thinking, argues Vecsey & Venables, allowed white settlers and businessmen to justify domination of both Indians and the landscapes[52] they developed spiritual closeness to. Euro-American culture considered this lifestyle less civilized and vastly inferior[53]  However, the book identifies, like any community, respect for land was only one segment of Native American culture. Vecsey & Venable write the Iroquois “…Believe that the survival of their culture is tied to their land and their ability to control that and through an exertion of sovereignty” (Vecsey & Venables 1980, 82).  Reflecting on Iroquois presence in the Adirondacks, the critical ideal argued (an ideal characteristic of any organized community), is that there cultural connection to the landscape is vital in maintaining a sense of self-determination and sustainability.

Oren Lyons, chief of the Onondaga Nation, Iroquois, offers his own perspective in Vecsey & Venables (1980), explaining that his community, like any other, only wishes for respect in the form of true sovereignty. Lyons explains that their central belief remains that all living things are equal.  He urges the reader not to just think about Indian rights but the rights of our Earth and the need for all to consider the ways we can serve the next generation (Vecsey & Venables 1980, 173-174). Real sovereignty is not readily found in the stereotype of the Noble Savage as it would equate white man with Indian, thus humanizing American Indians.

 Shepard Krech III (1999) seeks to engage with the stereotype of Noble Savage in noteworthy contrast to Vecsey & Venables (1980).  Krech argues Native Americans modified their environments just like any community, using intelligent design to utilize the earth for their own growth and survival (Krech III 1999, 9). Krech states the time period of 1875 to 1940 as critical in forming the Noble Indian stereotype in printed form, attracting mass attention and influence (Krech III 1999, 19). Krech identifies certain key figures in the movement, including author of historical fiction novel, Last of the Mohicans, James Fennimore Cooper, as well as Ernest Thompson Seton, first Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts, and Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) who was part Dakota and part Sioux. [54]

Krech’s insight in the counter argument to Noble Indians as ecologists is useful[55], as it allows another side in the dialogue, straying away from looking at Native Americans as victims. Krech’s research is extensive[56] and his points are not overtly biased upon reading, however, Krech does lack any real basis in Indian cultures. While touching on the ideas surrounding religion and land, he does not truly explore them in terms of environmental use and sustainability.  Furthermore, in the way Krech writes, there is an uncomfortable sense of antagonism; there seems to be a double standard that Indians can either be wasteful and ignorant to ecological preservation or are aware of it and seek to manipulate and profit from it. Krech misses the point that this idealism of the Noble Indian often makes Native Americans seem simple and their culture underdeveloped (the savage part of the stereotype of Noble Savage) (Krech III 1999, 115-217).[57]

Shari M. Huhndorf (2001) offers an examination of the Noble Savage, this time from the way Americans intersected with Indians, not how Indians intersected with Americans. Her interests lie in investigating literature, material culture, and larger social practices that have appropriated and dismantled American Indian heritage in forming a solely ‘American’ one.[58] Huhndorf writes that literature discussing this trend has been minimal, “…Because much scholarship in the field tends to view Native America in isolation from the dominant, colonizing culture” (Huhndorf 2001, 6). In forming the American identity, the frictions between democracy and racial hierarchy have left out stories of conquest and violence (Huhndorf 2001, 11). Native Americans, being the first to experience colonialism in the New World, have been excluded from the narrative, instead made into figures unrealistic but almost always beneficial to the legacy of the United States.

Similar to Krech III (1999), Huhndorf discusses the growth of the Boy Scouts and other men’s clubs at a time when there was a desire to maintain masculinity in a rapidly changing industrial society seeking to grow its imperial might. She writes that the Boy Scouts came after a handful of already established organizations.[59] The late nineteenth century was a place of urban chaos, revealing itself through poverty, disease, crime, and deplorable labor laws (Huhndorf 2001, 67). Huhndorf argues this added pressure to continue racial segregation:  “The nature of modern life, no longer seemed clearly to demonstrate the superiority of the white race. To explain and justify their dominance, European Americans had to look elsewhere” (Huhndorf 2001, 67). By the time the Boy Scouts arrived from England to the U.S. in 1910, the appropriation of Indian cultural heritage was in full effect.[60] Huhndorf asks the reader why an organization based in white male Protestant values with imperialism desires would utilize Indian cultural inspiration. Huhndorf analyzes that by exploiting Indian based ideals, the Boy Scouts “…Conquered but emulated them as well” (Huhndorf 2001, 72). Huhndorf explains that through this ‘emulation,’ young American boys were reenacting idealized stages of Western progress to continue the idea of white supremacy.

Indian-inspired clothing, names, and outdoors skills became more broadly utilized in American summer camps and organizations. Susan Miller (2006) compares and contrasts two books, A Paradise for Boys and Girls: Children’s Camps in the Adirondacks by Hallie E. Bond, Joan Jacobs Brumberg, and Leslie Paris and A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890-1960, by Abigail A. Van Slyck.  Miller (2006) identifies that there has been minimal academic focus on summer and youth in the past. Miller states that Bond writes less from an analytical and more from a nostalgic point of view. Bond was curator of the Adirondack Museum when this book was published and was inspired from one of the exhibitions at the museum (Miller 2006, 96). Discussion of the influence by American Indian culture is left out of the conversation.

Miller writes that Van Slyck’s book however, uses cultural theory to assess the meaning behind the growth of summer camps in places like the Adirondacks.[61] Miller continues, stating, “… An examination of tents and tepees allows her to explore Americans’ fascination with giving their progeny ‘‘Indian’’ role models to emulate. Occasionally, this model forces a somewhat arbitrary distinction” (Miller 2006, 97).[62]  Again we see the adoption of Indian culture for White American used, yet Miller seems to glaze over the importance of this detail. For Van Slyck, summer camps signify anxieties about class, race, gender, childhood, and health occurring at this point in American history. Van Slyck (2006) writes, “It is perhaps even more important to recognize the ways in which summer camps…served as incubators of the middle class, instilling middle-class values…” (Van Slyck 2006, xxxiv). She argues cultural identity was rooted in the growing interest of summer camps. Like Huhndorf (2001), she contextualizes her topic in the period of history (late 1800s to early 1900s) critical in shaping American cultural values in response to larger issues and concerns at hand.  Fabricating a new generation of wholesome ‘American’ kids, Van Slyck argues these camps tell a larger story. Miller however, downplays the cultural critique of A Manufactured Wilderness in her article, offering a narrative closer to A Paradise, more interested in dwelling on the nostalgia.  

Pauline Turner Strong (2008) articulates the ideas of Van Slyck and Huhndorf in her article centered the youth organization, Camp Fire. Strong states that Camp Fire became the first multiracial youth organization in the U.S. specifically for girls. Founded in 1910, the organization came at a time of shifting perspectives on everything from American anthropology and ethnography, namely in the efforts of scholars like Frank Boas, and in gender rights by becoming co-ed by the 1970s.  Camp Fire shaped much of its programming around ‘Indian’ traditions, images, and rituals, believing it would emulate the cohesion and goals of the organization. Today known as Camp Fire USA, the organization still retains and celebrates these Indian-style characteristics like the Boy Scouts of America (Strong 2008, 1).

By the mid 1900s, the Noble Savage was due for a rebirth, this time within counterculture movements. With environmentalism underway in the U.S., the Noble Savage was considered the perfect figure to utilize in the cause for anti-pollution, anti-nuclear, anti-war, and hippie angst (Huhndorf 2001, 132-136). [63] However, there were American Indians interested in changing this perception of their culture as a malleable stereotype. As Americans continued to adopt Indian ideas for their own Euro-American needs, the American Indian Movement (AIM) was seeking its own place in the civil rights protests of the Vietnam War era. The joining together of students of several nations[64] offered a strong coalition of young American Indian activists. Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. (1971) as a White scholar. However, I include this text because the book is almost completely a collection of speeches by Indian leaders of the AIM.[65] In 1968, a speech by Sidney Mills was made, entitled “I Am a Yakima and Cherokee Indian, and a Man.” Mill’s speech is made in the attempt to humanize Indians, differing from Eastman’s language (1914).  He writes: “What kind of government or society would spend millions of dollars to pick upon our bones, restore our ancestral life patterns, and protect our ancient remains…while at the same time eating upon the flesh of our living people with power processes that hate our existence?” (Josephy 1971, 96). This fascination with Indian culture both in grassroots counterculture and academic research acted as a strange juxtaposition to Indian rights.[66]

The sense of Western dominance is impossible to ignore, looking at Indian cultures as stereotypes to use and study, but rarely as humans. Mills demands Americans to consider Indian cultures as just like their own; worthy of the rights, opportunities, and platforms deserved of all U.S. citizens.  It is confusing to consider the ideas of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in conjunction with the appropriation occurring during the 1960s and 1970s. While the AIM spoke of sovereignty, equal rights, and an end to the disappearance of their cultures and ways of life, White Americans were taking on the identities of Native Americans, interpreting their actions as a nod to their own goals of sustainability. Unsurprisingly, this trend accomplished the exact opposite.

Shirley L. Smith (2012) situates the counterculture movement with the AIM in pushing for increased political and economic self-determination. In this era of activism, Smith identifies that Native Americans were able to attain media spotlight during the 1960s and 1970s (Smith 2012, x.). Smith dedicates much of her book to the attention hippies gave to Native American culture through their appropriation of their clothing, styles, and relationship to the landscape.  However, she also sheds light on how much of American counterculture manipulated elements and beliefs of a marginalized culture, therein embodying appropriation.[67]

The insult and hostility various Indian individuals and communities felt towards this take on their heritage is unsurprising (Smith 2012, 129-131).[68] Some took it with bemusement and would trick hippies, however, most saw this oversimplification and appropriation of their heritage as offensive and damaging in what Smith states was an ‘insensitivity’ to Native Americans (Smith 2012, 131) .[69] She writes of one Taos Pueblo teenager, Diane Reyna, who found the hippies interesting, unlike older generations. However, she too observed, “ ‘There was no way they could have any idea what it really meant to be Indians’ ” (Smith 2012, 133). Smith concludes youthful Americans’ adoption of Indian cultures remained superficial in an attempt to use another culture to combat one that was crumbling: their own.[70]

A similar trend can be seen in the location of the Thesis case study. Joe Connolly (2017) describes a group of college-aged students from the Upstate New York region who attempted to live off the land in the late 1970s near the town of Saranac Lake. Connolly writes: “In the corner...sits a 20-foot-high tepee frame…There are remnants of a meditation labyrinth and a medicine wheel garden… They considered themselves pioneers, wanting only to live cooperatively with the earth, to protect it and to never own it” (Connolly 2017, Web). This commune, The New Land Trust, called itself a tribe, utilizing Indian inspired cultural traditions, practices, and livelihoods for their own social statement. Connolly praises and celebrates the student’s use of simplified Indian culture without giving American Indians any real recognition in the narrative. This article reveals the continued dismal of living Indian culture and the respect they deserve. 

Finis Dunaway (2008) also discusses the use of the idealized ecological Indian in the 1970s, this time with a focus on Earth Day.[71] Dunaway states that there was an indefinite appeal counter-culturists felt towards the ideals of Native Americans.[72] Dunaway points to visual platforms which were used to motivate and challenge environmental degradation in the United States (Dunaway 2008, 84-87). While showing images of student demonstrations and creating TV adverts, the use of Indian figures appeared as well. A fictional Indian, played by Italian-American actor, Iron Eyes, was placed on magazine ads and in a live action commercial paddling across a polluted waterway, shedding a tear of distress at the state of the environment for the 1971 “Keep America Beautiful” Campaign (Dunaway 2008, 84-85). Iron Eyes presents to the American masses that the Indian cannot survive in this world of chemicals, pollution, industry, and urbanism. This creates a fabricated culture simpler than Western society. While on the surface, the commercial may seem beneficial to this ecological Indian, this is a Western idealization which creates a sense of myth and inanimateness. 

Robert F. Berkhofer (2011)  sees this inanimateness as a trend through American history to create the ‘other’ in society (Berkhofer 2011, 6). He writes that no matter the stereotype, Native Americans are always shaped to be ‘alien’ to Whites (Berkhofer 2011, 6). The first definitions attributed to Indians were violent, heathen, and dangerous. Yet, the evolution of environmentalism with Indian cultural beliefs has just created different divides in America. Moreover, Berkhofer states that the people who were living in North America when Europeans arrived, had never really considered themselves a collective group or ethnicity; this was a European initiative which undervalued their diversity in dress, food, spirituality, architecture, etcetera (Berkhofer 2011, 14).  While aware of these contentious foundations of American identity, Berkhofer points to modern understandings of Native Americans being rooted in the ethical archeological and ethnographical teachings of Frank Boas. Boas, considered one of the founders of American anthropology, coined the term ‘cultural relativism,’ which states that no one culture can be superior or inferior to the other[73] (Berkhofer 2011, 302). Yet even as Boas and others began to push such beliefs by the 1930s, the study of anthropology still perpetuated the idea of an ‘other,’ specifically an ‘other’ of the past.[74] Even though today, the ideas pushed by Boas seem common sense and necessary, he only died approximately eighty years ago.

Jack Weatherford (1992) seeks to dismantle the ‘other’ by referencing early European encounters and assessing the countless influences which helped shape American cultural identity, Weatherford argues there is intricate importance in recognizing these additions. Such influences[75] include hunting, beads, buildings, agriculture, fishing, the Americanization of the English language, names in the U.S., and environmentalism and peacekeeping (Weatherford 1992, 1). Weatherford states that, "Beneath the surface of . . . American accomplishments, lie indigenous roots" (Weatherford 1992, 2). Yet, this idea of acknowledging Indian influence remains difficult for institutions to admit, and even harder to promote to the masses. It comes back to this question of what is progress. It has long been considered that the West dominates the evolution of civilization. However, the growing need to consider other voices in accepting Indian influence becomes obvious here.  Understanding how Native Americans added to the economy, to government[76], and subtler socio-cultural traits can allow a more accurate representation of the first ‘Americans’. Furthermore, it asks us to consider their rights and citizenship in a modern America.

In discussing the sources for this section of the literature review, it becomes apparent that stereotyping and appropriation are not simple terms to understand. They appear in strange places and can be extremely subtle or shockingly obvious.  From the first European encounters in Colonial America to youth organizations and environmental activism and hippies, we see the manipulation and oversimplification of Native Americans. Indecency and insensitivity of stereotyping and appropriation can be readily recognized by the average American, or missed completely, allowing it to perpetuate in a dangerous cycle of miseducation.

Non-Academic Literature

For the reason that appropriation and stereotyping are part of American history, observing non-academic sources which offer insight into the origins of misrepresentation is indefinitely beneficial to the topic of research. As discussed by Krech III (1999), Charles Eastman was an American Indian but adopted Euro-American dress and was Ivy-school educated. An interesting figure to study, his writings compiled in the 1914 book, Indian Scout Talks: A Guide for Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls, shapes this image of the Noble Indian, knowledgeable of the environment, living off the Earth, and simple and wise in his ways.[77] Eastman’s motives may have come from a desire to paint a less savage and more peaceful Indian in the minds of American boys and girls. While the ideas and methods presented in Eastman’s book are not degrading, he helped create a stereotype of American Indians, as well as furthering the notion that Native American cultures were more of the past than the present.

            The book targeted the Boy Scouts and the Camp Fire Girls, which both based much of their organizations’ Native American values and activities on the ideas of Eastman. The book is organized into chapters among topics including animal and plant knowledge, wilderness skills, and Indian spirituality and symbolism. The language is simplistic but to a questionable degree; it is always, “the Indian,” when discussing Native American beliefs and traditions, yet Eastman’s own personal experiences, family, and Indian nation(s) are being presented as hundreds of nations practices.[78] The Indian is every nation to the White reader, allowing Euro-Americans to group Indian nations of great diversity and heritage into a singular ideal. Moreover, the text can become problematic as the ‘Indian’ in Eastman’s book feels more like a fictional creature, presented as lacking power or status outside the ageless domain of nature.[79] This oversimplifying allows cultural appropriation to occur, shaping not only the public’s ideas but more decisive government and economy.

Fig. 2.4 (Hillcourt 1982,162)



  To study the lasting effects of which Eastman lent to, a glance at Boy Scouts of America reveals much in the way of Native American stereotyping.  The analysis of The Official Boy Scout Handbook: 1982 Edition, was conducted. In the “Primitive Camping” section of the handbook, the top of the page includes a series of illustration showing boys dressed in loin clothes, using bow and arrows, going out of tepees, painting on buck skin, and wearing feathers and moccasins. Underneath the images, it states, “In Indian-style camping you help keep alive the traditions of the earliest Americans. You learn to play Indian games and take part in Indian dances” (Hillcourt 1982, 162). This source reveals that the use of Indian inspired activities and dress perpetuated the idea that Indians were no longer alive and that Boy Scouts assumed the role of “keep[ing] alive” their culture (Hillcourt 1982, 162). The badge earned in partaking in ‘Indian-style’ camping or ‘survival-camping’ was called the Indian-Lore Badge. One can also partake in Pioneer Camping, which follows Primitive Camping, a metaphor for the ‘evolution’ of America.



[1] Russell M. Carson (1928) explains there are forty-six named peaks that measure over 4,000 feet in height. One such peak is Santanoni Mountain, at 4,606 ft. Carson states the first people on the mountain would have been French and Indian. The first known appearance of the name in print is in 1838 by a William C. Redfeld in the American Journal of Science and Arts (Carson 1928, 23). Professor Emmons, in 1842, calls it Saint Anthony, corrupted into the name Santanoni. The word Sinondowanne was used in the 1840s to 1870s, meaning “the great mountain.” In Seneca, Carson identifies the word to actually mean “great hill” though.  Carson writes that Professor Arthur C. Parker, who is of Seneca and English/Scottish descent, explains the theory as such in the early 20th century (Carson 1928, 24). Parker states the name must have been used by an Adirondack Indian guide of the Abenaki Tribe, or possibly by a St. Regis Indian [Mohawk], whose Saint name would be the same as the Abenaki’ (Carson 1928, 24).” Here Carson refers to Franciscan missionaries bringing the name Saint Anthony of Padua (Carson 1928, 34)[1].


[2] As seen in the Catholic missions in California during Spanish conquest, there was often little choice for Native Americans facing invasion. Either they could adopt Christianity and live in mission villages, or face the definite possibility of death fighting it. However, those that did follow missionaries often found various subtle ways to undermine and rebel against forced European assimilation. To mock a Saint’s name would fit into this relationship during colonization of North America (Dyck 2016, University of Toronto Lecture).

[3] Smith’s theory became closely tied to Western imperialism and development for centuries to come.

[4] Iroquois as a title for the united nations, was originally used by the French.


[5] Interestingly, Amrhein writes that before 1790, New York actually included what today is Vermont (Amrhein 2016, 17). Vermont still has an identified Abenaki presence and it is important to consider earlier borders and forms of exchange based on them.

[6] Her book relates this research to present day issues regarding Indian land rights, specifically for the Iroquois nations who still remain on their original land.

[7] Amrhein shapes the book around several significant land acquisitions that occurred in the 1700s and 1800s mainly, with discussion of living tribal conflict over the injustice of these earlier ‘negotiations.’ One such treaty is the Macomb Purchase, which encompassed Franklin County, part of the Adirondack Park today. Alexander Macomb became wealthy during the Revolutionary War as a merchant and sought to spend his money in land speculation in Northern New York (Amrhein 2016, 29-31). Both St. Regis Mohawks and Caughnawaga Mohawks attempted to fight the purchase of their lands between 1792 and 1794 but New York State disregarded their claims as they were more interested in the Western New York land treaties occurring simultaneously with the Seneca Nation.

[8] While Franklin County, a county which is in the Park, is discussed in detail with regards to legal actions against one treaty, Macomb’s Purchase, the reader is missing study of a considerable part of what constitutes Upstate New York. Conflicts continue over this purchase in Franklin County where the St. Regis Reservation still stands today: “The St. Regis Indians were sure of what they owned and have long contended that some of these parcels were encroachments on their territory” (Amrhein 2016, 59). This text reveals Mohawks were long connected to Franklin County.

[9] There remain a few historic maps of the land purchases which encompass parts of the Adirondacks. A map drawn in 1886, entitled ‘Sketch Showing the Location of the Great Land Patents” (Donaldson 1922, 53) includes Macomb’s Purchase which incorporates Saranac Lake and Paul Smith’s. A Great Military Tract is also marked which included Lake Placid and Keene Valley. Totten & Crossfield’s Purchase includes Mt. Marcy, Long Lake, Newcomb, and Raquette Lake. Donaldson writes that “‘Before and during the colonial period it [the mountain hamlet of North Elba] was the summer home to Adirondack hunting bands. In all the old maps an Indian Village is located near the spot’” (Donaldson 1922, 35). North Elba is today located just South of Lake Placid in the Adirondack Park. Donaldson references scholar Winslow C.  on possible settlement in North Elba. He states: “The vestiges of Indian occupation in North Elba, and the territory around the interior lakes…leave no doubt that at some former period they [the Indians] congregated there in great numbers” (Donaldson 1922, 27). This account offers some confidence in Native presence. H.P. Smith’s “Aboriginal Occupation of New York,” a bulletin of the New York State Museum, published in 1900, in describing North Elba, he merely quotes Watson: “There are no important sites in the county, but many traces of early and late passage. On early maps in the New York wilderness is called the hunting ground of the Five Nations, and it was their tradition that it had never been otherwise used” (Donaldson 1922, 28). This discussion about North Elba, reveals how myth begins in historical narrative. Nevertheless, the idea that the land was hunting grounds places Native Americans in the region.

[10] Totten and Crossfield were shipwrights working out of New York City. They had written to King George III prior to the Revolutionary War, with interest in buying land including part of what is today the Adirondack region.  While their names continued to be placed on Upstate New York maps in the 1800s, after they passed, they may have not been the official owners of the tract, meaning they were merely considered as possible buyers in the sale of the land. Also seen on later maps is, ‘Jessup’s Totten and Crossfield Purchase, referring to the Jessup brothers and their son, who were intimate friends with important military leaders at the time including General William Tryon. The Jessup’s owned land in what is today Warren County, but their town burned in the Revolutionary War as they were known Loyalists (allied with the British) (Donaldson 1922, 50-52).

[11] As Donaldson states, “Before the Revolution the colonial government, and after it, the State, made larges sales of its “wild lands” in the Adirondack region” (Donaldson 1922, 51). Specifically, after the French and Indian War (1759), in the years prior to the Revolutionary War, southern parts of the Adirondacks along Lake George and more central, along the Central Hudson River were being moved in to with dying down of violence (Donaldson 1922, 52).

[12] Macomb’s Purchase’s first tract of land was acquired in possession in 1792 (Donaldson 1922, 63, 65).

[13] As big money from cities started coming to the Adirondacks for leisure and sport, interest grew in buying property and privatizing land. With money came the idea that one could afford to think about conservation in relation to one’s ownership of the land.

[14] Jacoby aligns this movement with the disassociation of the local community from their way of life. The criminals of the Adirondack Forest Preserve established at the end of the nineteenth century were rural farmers and hunters, and perhaps even more hidden, Native American locals including the Abenaki. He explains that conservationists presented lands like the Adirondacks, not as a homeland, but merely land being exploited for economic use.

[15] Jacoby analyzes the Adirondack Region’s place in the changing economy of a post-Civil War America, where new goals of a national marketplace were emerging (Jacoby 2014, 24). The remoteness and difficult farming climate made agriculture a less likely outlet for economy. However, the abundance of forest allowed Northern companies to collect bark for tanneries and lumber operations (Jacoby 2014, 24-25). Development, Jacoby explains, was not wide-reaching, as transportation of materials kept operations near waterways.

[16] Jacoby writes that in 1892 the State brought together various parties to make a protected nature park, combining Forest Preserve and private land, which at the time totaled three million acres. He believes, “An 1894 constitutional amendment stating that the Forest Preserve was to be ‘forever kept as wild forest lands’ helped ensure the permanence of the state’s experiment in conservation” (Jacoby 2014, 17).  This was a valiant step forward for environmental conservation at one end. Yet at the other end, the issue with ‘forever wild’ is that it is one of those lasting myths of the region and of the country at large. Beyond problematic to rural communities who came before environmental scholars and politicians, it assumed the land was returning to a time of absolute emptiness, disregarding any significant non-European presence.

[17] Jacoby reviewed census records in 1880 in Hamilton County, a dozen or so miles from Santanoni and Newcomb, and found that the town of Long Lake, one of the closest settlements to Newcomb, had a considerable amount of Iroquois families situated in the town. Intermarriage with white settlers had also occurred (Jacoby 2014, 22-23).

[18] Jacoby refers to this idea through the guide boat, a mix between styles of an Iroquois canoe and a European rowboat. Narrow and made of wood, the boat is iconic in Adirondack culture today (Jacoby 2014, Fig.2, 78).

[19] Jobs attracting settlers included lumbering, tanning, and mining. These settlers are said to have embodied what is referred to as a ‘homestead ethic,’ in that land and one’s own freedom were more important than capitalist gain and growth (Otis 557). Yet, even by the mid 1800s, the Adirondacks’ population was still low in numbers (Otis 557).

[20] Terrie refers to a map dating from 1784 by a Thomas Pownall; Topographical Description depicts the mountainous Adirondack region as little known to Europeans. However, he states it is believed to be a hunting ground for Indians: “...Yet either much is not known to them [Indians], or, if known very wisely by them kept from the Knowledge of the Europeans” (Terrie 1994, 21).  This quotation infers that there could very much have been settlement and use of the Adirondacks by Indians, but that it remained unclear to Euro-Americans who knew little of the region until two hundred years ago. Terrie analyzes the first impression of the wilderness of the Adirondacks by White settlers, as barren and useless, distinctly due to the fact that the land did not look arable. This no doubt could be connected to impressions that others before could not live there based on their form of sustenance, an idea that still seems present today in the region (Terrie 1994,16-26).

[21] For example, Terrie sites an archeological survey by a Thomas Powell from 1965 in which he claims gives sufficient evidence of very little to no Indian presence in the region (Terrie 1994, 169). Terrie also includes a 1755 map entitled, General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America, the most accurate map drawn pre-Revolutionary War. Made by cartographer, Lewis Evans, the artifact was able to say very little about the Adirondack Region: “This Country by Reason of Mountains Swamps and drowned Land is impassable and uninhabited” and “The Country between the Mohocks and St.Laurence Rivers is entirely impassable by Reason of Ridges of Hills, not being yet broken, to drain the vast drowned Land and Swamps.” (Terrie, 1994, 20). There is a vagueness in these sources, but Terrie presents confidence in his perception of the past. Furthermore, the way nature was considered burdensome and difficult unless readily lucrative is evident in this 18th century map.

[22] Terrie writes that “ recorded history of the Adirondacks begins with a story of contested terrain” (Terrie 1997, xvii).[22] Terrie states Western desire for land and their own ideals of warfare have shaped Adirondack heritage yet he does realize his own Western perceptions are at play in the 1990s..

[23] The working class man and his family is often recognized as a less told part of the region’s history.

[24] Terrie does include one Indian figure of the past, the first known settler of Hamilton County, one of the counties in the Park. Sabael Benedict, a Penobscot Indian, was originally from Maine. (Terri 1997, 6). His son, Lewis Elijah Benedict, acted as a nature guide to Professor Ebenezer Emmons in the early to mid 1800s. Emmons was a geologist, who is credited for naming the region the Adirondacks as well as naming its highest peak, Mt. Marcy (Terrie 1997, 6-7).

[25] Schneider states the Native Americans came onto the Half Moon bearing gifts of grapes, pumpkins, beaver tails, and otter skins which they traded with the French crew (Schneider 1998, 15).

[26] Schneider writes, “To the East, Mohawk influence stretched to both sides of Lake Champlain. There were conflicting claims by non-Iroquois peoples to various corners of what would become the Adirondack Park, but the bulk of it was Mohawk Territory” (Schneider 1998, 16).

[27] The authors attribute this trend to the fact that few Europeans knew much about the vast region, referring to it on maps as ‘terra incognita’ or unknown land (Sheets & Storch 2016, 1).

[28] The first European to encounter the Iroquois is French explorer Jacques Cartier in the 1530s.  Providing citations of several scholars[28], Sulavik states that the Mohawk nation considered its territory to include (by the time of Cartier’s encounter), south of the Upper Saint Lawrence, which included the Adirondack region. Sulavik goes on to reference writings of French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who arrived to the New World in 1603, discussing information learnt in 1622 that the Algonquians and Mohawks had already been in hostilities for fifty years. This information, if accurate, would place the Mohawk in the land below the Saint Lawrence, again including the Adirondack Mountains (Sulavik 2005, 14)). The conflict that would ensue would be called the French and Indian War, a war that actually was between the English and French over land, wrapping the Iroquois and Algonquin in the battle for economic gain. Sulavik then goes onto to discuss the Algonquians. He aligns the first meeting of the Algonquians with the French in 1603 (Sulavik 2005, 11-13).

[29] Referencing archaeologist Dean R. Snow, Sulavik writes that around 900 ACE, Iroquoian-speaking people began to migrate north along the Susquehanna River (in central Pennsylvania). Around 1000 ACE, their migration had caused the displacement of Algonquians from the rich soil regions of southern Lake Ontario and the Mohawk River Valley of Central New York. Sulavik includes that by this time, the Iroquois had developed the domestication of crops, specifically maize. By the 1400s and 1500s, migration had continued, placing Iroquois groups farther North and East, including the Saint Lawrence River (Sulavik 2005, 20-23).

[30] Sulavik (2005) book is more on the academic side in its style of prose, and one down fall of this is its possible lack of appeal to the average reader. However, the copies of the book are sold at The Adirondack Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, as well as in a few other tourism venues.

[31] In 2013, an article from a recognized Physics and General Sciences website,, headlined, “Dig turns up ancient artifacts at upstate NY site.”  Chris Carola (2013) writes that the New York archeologists found Indian artifacts dating at least 10,000 years in age along Lake George, which is at the Southern end of the Adirondack Park. Referencing the State Museum in Albany, Carola explains the dig was followed out to proceed a multi-million project to revitalize a State owned beach, Million Dollar Beach. It is important to consider this dig among others, discovered significant remains due to a project for recreation not for American Indian research or conservation. Remains found include thousands of arrowheads and parts of stone tools, making the site found as one of the oldest known occupied areas in New York, concluding there was Indian settlement in the area as early as 8,000 BCE (Carola 2013, Web).

[32] The Mohicans were an Algonquian nation who would have dwelled along the Hudson River and Southernmost part of the Park (as well as parts of Vermont and Massachusetts).

[33] These remains had been pushed outward, as were the military remains of Fort William Henry’s use during the Revolutionary War (Starbuck 2014, 11).

[34] The lack of digs for indigenous history in the United States has made it difficult to voice the presence and importance of American Indian impact on the what is today the United States.

[35] The National Register of Historic Places is a federally recognized list which lends U.S. government assistance to the protection and preservation of historically significant sites who qualify to be placed on the list. The program began in 1966, and thus has been in action for approximately fifty-one years.

[36] Three sites have been studied to be unquestionably eligible, including artifacts of pre-historic and contact time periods. The National Register, however, overwhelmingly focuses on buildings, which understandably deserve appreciation, but is challenging to alter attention from Western architecture to Indian archeological remains.

[37] The information of archeological findings in New York (as well as across the globe) are something more retained in the academic world, as will be discussed in light of conversations with working archeologist in the region.

[38] The location of such findings would need to remain vague to halt any (illegal) treasure hunting activity.

[39] She writes that Paleo-Indian hunters would have stayed along what is today Lake Champlain, which during their time, would have been more like a tundra environment and the lake, similar to a sea. Woods states this can be proven due to spear points found in the area from 11,000 years ago, which would have been used to hunt large animals including mammoth, caribou, and bison. 

Between 3500 and 1300 BCE, Indians of the Late Archaic[39] periods, moved inland towards the mountains.[39] Following the Late Archaic communities, would have been the Woodland cultures[39] (Woods 1994, Web). 

[40] Donaldson (1922) describes a Mr. James M. Wardener, owner of the Rainbow Inn, who, “had a most extensive and valuable collection of Adirondack Indian relics” (Donaldson 1922, 22-22) He made his collection into an exhibit but it was sold into different lots and the information lost (Donaldson 1922, 22).  Mr. Jesse Corey, original owner of Rustic Lodge at a place called Indian Carry,” …Also had a small collection of Indian relics, but appears to have given it away little by little to passing visitors” (Donaldson 1922, 22-23). There is a long history of treasure and grave robbing at the most destructive end, but more commonly, is the individual collecting for private ownership of Indian artifacts found or purchased.

[41] Yet, there are larger trends at work which are behind the issues identified by Woods in 1994; societal concepts of heritage, its preservation, and education, in collision with Native American stereotyping and appropriation allows little acknowledgement to Indian influence in what is today the Adirondacks.

[42] Thoughts including the Adirondacks being too cold, soil useless, and thus only a place for temporary settlement,

[43] Some artifacts he viewed are in the Six Nations Museum’s collection in Onchiota, New York. These include pottery shards and well preserved pots found near Silver Mountain Lake. Pottery, as Stager explains, would have been heavy and clumsy to carry on brief hunting trips, indicating more permanent settlement (Stager 2017, 55) In 2007, he writes that when the Piercefield Dam lowered the level of Tupper Lake, a reddish brown chert surfaced, with a long grove at the bottom, identifying it as an artifact dating to soon after the last ice age (Paleolithic Hunters) (Stager 2017, 58-59).

[44] Perhaps it is Stager’s stance outside the field of anthropology which allows him to engage with the larger issues at hand. He attributes some of the resistance to Western views on what constitutes settlement, being more focused on farming while as discussed in Jacoby’s Crimes Against Nature, the Adirondacks was a place of hunting and gathering by Whites and Natives alike until the mid 19th century.

[45] Stager and other researchers have taken sediment cores from lakes in the region The sediment cores have aided in dating the general landscape of the Adirondacks to be approximately 13,000 years old (Stager 2017, 58-59). This would have been a landscape with bountiful water, animals, and temperate weather allowing settlement of Indian nations.

[46] The Blue Line is a line that was drawn with blue chalk back in the 1800s which decided the perimeters of the Adirondack Park. Those borders made with blue chalk are still the respected Park of today.

[47] Father Jogues and his Jesuit colleagues were captured according to the tale, by gruesome Indians, but escaped on the eve on Corpus Cristi to a lake, naming it Lac de Saint Sacrement. The Lake would later be renamed Lake George by the British. Lake George is part of the Adirondack Park today.

[48] The story of the Holy Savage actually centers on Holy Catherine, a Native convert whose father was Iroquois and mother Algonquin. It is written that her mother was taken by the Iroquois and forced in sexual relations. It is interesting to note the Algonquians are presented as more respectful in this part of the tale. However, the author tells the reader that even at their most moral, Indians can never reach the holy of a Euro-American. Missionary stories of holy savage converts are a recurring story among Jesuit recordings. Jesuits were careful to write their experiences down and we have much from this. However, one must go through the bias and cultural judgments to find what lays beneath regarding American Indian history. What is common about Kateri’s story is that she is celebrated by whites and non-whites in the story specifically because, according to the author, she is a true and moral convert, worthy of our admiration (Early 1939, 112-133).

[49] Early is one of the many authors who mention Saranac Indians, but if one researches them, the information is minimal, and so little is thought to their actual presence and influence today. They could refer to the Mohawk but this remains unclear.

[50] In discussing the name Adirondack, she writes, “The Iroquois called the Algonquin hatirontaks (‘tree eaters’), which meant ‘sissies’…they[Algonquians] philosophically ate what they could get” (Early 1939, 45).  Early emphasizes the idea that Algonquians could not survive in the Great North Woods while shaping the Iroquois as their hardened enemy.

[51] The main nations identified were Mohawk and Abenaki. Like white working class Americans, Mohawk and Abenaki of the Sacandaga Valley made their money at paper mills, glove factories, tanneries, and saw mills, construction and in the woods.  When the dam project began, many worked for New York Power, including the author of the book (Bowman 1993, xv).

[52] Many settlers and politicians even claimed it was God’s divine plan to conquer both land and its previous inhabitants for use by white man (Vecsey & Venables 1980, 66). This phenomenon of religiously charged imperialism in the United States is often referred to as Manifest Destiny.

[53] Vecsey explains the ideals of Indian ethics came from a fear, that mistreating animals and land, would create a division between human and nature. This division would lead to harm on both ends (Vecsey & Venables 1980, 21). Vecsey writes, “Indians treated wild animals with respect because they were worthy of it…” (Vecsey & Venables 1980, 21) Indian communities in what became the United States viewed the natural world in often opposite ways to Euro-American culture; establishing white man as the taker, and Indian as the leaver. Vecsey also explains that many nations would have ceremonies apologizing for the kill of animals as well as viewed hunting as distasteful and immoral (Vecsey & Venables 1980, 21).


[54] The inclusion of Eastman as important to forming the stereotypes was an interesting fact to consider. One of the prominent advocators of the principles of the Noble Savage was of Native descent himself. Krech argues this came from a desire to romanticize the past and ameliorate unjust views towards American Indians (Krech III 1999, 19). Cooper comes as a predecessor to Eastman, establishing characters in his literature as one with the earth, both ignoble and noble men of the French and Indian War period of the mid-1700s. His Indian heroes though, are described as closer to the “classical structure” of Roman and Greek mythological characters than human beings (Krech III 1999, 19). Furthermore, as the title suggests, Copper writes of the Mohicans as a tribe which is about to fade into the past, while despite astonishing challenges, there are Mohicans alive today.

[55] Krech focuses on certain elements of nature which explore the use of the planet in Native history alongside Europeans. The discussion of the beaver intersects directly with Adirondack history (Krech III 1999, 175-176). Krech identifies the Huron and Iroquois as the main stakeholders in various forms of the beaver trade, bringing the animal to near extinction by the nineteenth century. By 1890, they were gone from New York State. Krech writes that in the beginning of the twentieth century, re-stocking programs were created to help bring back the beaver. In the Adirondacks, where beavers had also died out, the program brought them back to there near original numbers and trapping began again (Krech III 1999, 176). Krech states that before Europeans, Algonquin nations used many parts of the beaver for cooking, weaponry, and rituals.  Furthermore, when Europeans did arrive, the trade was not always in accordance with subsistence values of Indians and not all willingly participated (Krech III 1999, 179-180).  Nevertheless, many Northeastern tribes participated and assisted in the destruction of the beaver population. Krech III believes there is natural world knowledge that Native Americans did and still do possess regarding animals like beaver as well as plant and fish life. However, he argues the ecological dialogue the United States needs to have, includes both Native and Non-Native (Western educated) individuals for the idea that Indians were America’s first environmentalists is not something Krech is convinced by (Krech III 1999, 209). However, Krech III does not analyze deeply the reasoning behind such heavy involvement of Indians in the Fur Trade, including beaver hunting.

[56] Krech III notes scars on bones of pre-Columbian Native remains which reveal “endemic pathologies” (Krech III, 199, 79), denoting the presence of disease before White Man’s arrival. Krech looks then to various diseases like bubonic plaque, small pox, and influenza which wiped out many Native North American communities who encountered Europeans starting in the 1500s. The large death toll came from a lack of immunity to the microbes in the sicknesses (Krech III 1999, 79-80). He writes though that, “There is no need to accuse Europeans, as some have, of mass continental genocide—assuming that requires intent” (Krech III 1999, 80). This is a confusing statement, in light of his inclusion a few paragraphs prior, of the British dispersal of blankets infested with small pox in the 1700s to kill off susceptible Indians. Furthermore, why many, not few, have attributed the near extinction of Native Americans to Euro-Americans, is only in small part from disease. Reasons include war, enslavement, alcoholism, sustenance destruction, depression, to name a few.

[57] Krech III writes, “…Native people have often favored the extraction of resources, storage of waste, and other development developmental projects—even those with a serious potential environmental impact—if they can gain control over them” (Krech III 1999, 219). The desire to profit from a world run by big business and development should not come as a slander to the spiritual connection to nature Indian nations practice to this day.

[58] Introducing her book with the film, Dancing With Wolves, Huhndorf points out one key idea which will carry throughout her book: redemption (Huhndorf 2001, 3). The film, which was a blockbuster hit, depicts a Civil War military leader who ‘goes Native’ when adopted into a Sioux settlement. The movie presents the Sioux as peaceful and sage like. Yet, Huhndorf identifies this idealization has been created and recycled to distance Euro-Americans from a past of colonization and violence. Furthermore, this idea of redemption is translated into utilized Indian lifestyle and practices to ‘regenerate’ white society (Huhndorf 2001, 5).

[59]  This included a fraternal group which began in the 1860s called The Improved Order of Red Men (Huhndorf 2001, 64). They preformed stylized Indian rituals but were only one of many at the time practicing ‘Indian’ clubs targeted towards white men and boys (Huhndorf 2001, 65). As early as the year 1842, a group called Grand Order of Iroquois, was established by Lewis Henry Morgan. Their main interest lied in studying all thing Iroquois as a white male society who sought to “ ‘Shed inhibitions and live, if only for an evening, the life of the noble savage’ ” (Huhndorf 2001, 64-66). Moreover, Morgan used the society to be a testament to the expected extinction of Native Americans due to their undeveloped nature in a country of more advanced white citizens.

[60] Boy Scouts would be given Indian names, preform Indian inspired rituals, dress in buckskin and headdresses, achieve the Order of the Arrow, smoked peace pipes, to name a few of the questionable activities. The Boy Scouts claimed outdoors skills, masculine can-do mentality, and training for real world leadership and responsibility, a reaction again to tumultuous times in American society (Huhndorf 2001, 70-71).

[61] Van Slyck considers the material culture including mess halls, beds, games, and where they slept (Miller 2006, 96-97) .

[62] In this quotation, does Miller mean that Van Slyck discussing Indian influence is random and unnecessary in the narrative? Or does Miller mean to say the model of ‘playing Indian’ does not relate to larger themes concerning the topic? Yet, Miller may simply be saying the use of Indians are role models was random and inauthentic? It leaves the reader confused on where Miller stands and how she interprets this part of history in the book.


[63] The first Earth Day occurred in 1970, generating nation wide attention to the need to protect the planet from development. Huhndorf points to a book published by a Forrest Carter in 1976, called The Education of Little Tree. The book became an international best seller. Huhndorf writes that this is not surprising as the story tells of an idyllic past of peaceful and wise Indians, away from the chaos and racial division of the 1960s and 1970s (Huhndorf 2001, 129).  The belief for some time was that Forrest Carter was of Cherokee descent. It was discovered by a historian in 1991 however, that Carter was Asa (Ace) Earl Carter, who had a criminal past of racial and anti-Semitic violence as well as segregation fanaticism. He had been a Klu Klux Klan member, standing for white supremacy all along (Huhndorf 2001, 130). Huhndorf asks the reader, did Carter write this book, impersonating an Indian of all people Comparing The Education of Little Tree to his other main work, Gone to Texas, Huhndorf argues it is about redemption. Carter sought to redeem Confederate history and its own violent past towards race by utilizing the stereotype of the Noble Savage in representing Indians. A devoted Klan member, Carter shapes the Indian, Little Tree, and the White Southern Famer as juxtapositions to the gluttonous industrial North, the enemy or antagonist except the truly victorious heroine of the story is of course, the Southern. Huhndorf writes that this procession allows the Southern to remain the true American and white supremacy stays intact under the guise of the peaceful Indian figure (Huhndorf 2001, 132-136).

[64] The AIM was a time when young people from different nations who had had disagreements in the past put aside their differences for a larger cause.

[65] These speeches offer an important analysis of Indian needs and desires as they were becoming a more recognized sector of society in reaction to environmental crisis and subsequent activism (Smith 2012).  Josephy introduces the speech in stating that when it comes to land treaties, Native Americans have always experienced threat from the federal government that their land and rights can be taken away (Josephy 1971, 91-92).

[66]In the book, Turtle Island (1969), author Gary Snyder takes on the identity and voice of an American Indian. However, Snyder was a White professor from San Francisco. As discussed by Smith (2012), Snyder believed his work was aiding the image of Indians as stewards of the planet, yet the oversimplification of Indian cultures, not to mention, speaking for indigenous people, makes the book to do rather the opposite of what seemed to have been Snyder’s intentions. Turtle Island is a collection of poems, discussing indigenous spirituality and respect of the natural world and one can decipher Snyder’s interest in Native American cultures. The name of the book is based on a creation story for North America and thus sometimes the name of the continent to American Indians. More a plight of artistic reflection than connection with living Indian heritage and goals for the future, poems like “Anasazi” and “The Dead By The Side of the Road” offer simplified writing of the natural world and its mysticism. The depth of his work, the reasoning behind it, and the influence it could have for indigenous communities is shallow. The dismantling of this text’s narrative must occur, despite the venerated Indians Snyder writes of in his poems. They are fabrications, inauthentic and problematic in what they stand for in the cultural dominance continuum; this is a prime example of controlling heritage representation. Moreover, one must simply have the desire to promote more authentic narratives of American Indian heritage in our modern day.  


[67] This reveals a lack of awareness of the background of the culture they claimed to understand and support through hippie commune life, living in teepees, and being ‘closer’ to nature how they believed Indians did. Moreover, like any movement, there were those that took the appropriation in different directions, some more progressive than others (Smith 2012, 67) An anthropology professor from San Francisco by the name of John Collier Jr. takes on the voice of a Pueblo Indian and is a sympathetic reflection in many ways, of the destruction white man placed upon the natural world at the expense of its original settlers. Nevertheless, the stereotype of Noble Savage does dispossess most of the positivity of Collier’s work. Not to mention his decision to speak for an Indian as a white man. Smith writes, “Collier’s image of the Pueblo here--- as self-possessed, peaceful, content, childlike, deeply rooted in place, spiritually connected to the natural world---neatly summarized the appeal of Indianness to the ‘long-hair, Beatniks, and Hippies’ “(Smith 2012, 68). Smith does not engage too deeply in the significance of her interpretation of Collier’s poem yet her description of this general view of Native Americans reveals much of the issue. Childlike is a description of Indians which is very common throughout U.S. history. Childlike allocates undeveloped and simple-minded to people with thousands of years of history.  In this overlap of counterculture and return to land that echoed earlier times, Indians were again being pushed out of the picture for white man to explore his raw connection with the American landscape. This proposed ideal of Indian self-determination was desired by many Non-Indians in social movements of the time, but it seems various members of the cause did not know how to truly let Native Americans speak for themselves on an equal platform.

[68] Disappointingly however, Smith takes almost half the book to open a discussion of Indian perspective on this hippie adoption of their cultural identity.

[69] Smith writes, “The hippies’ use of Indian imagery...was neither a threat nor a compliment. Its superficiality and their apparent lack of pride in themselves made such inclinations meaningless” (Smith 2012, 133). However, the support activism evoked in challenging the times did benefit the AIM in some ways. Smith articulates that the main force understood in creating change would be solidarity and this was something recognized by American Indian activists seeking real results on a national scale (Smith 2012, 214). Smith does argue though that the power to attain Indians rights rested in Non-Indian hands. She gathers such a perspective from the fact that Non-Indians were the majority in the U.S. and thus the real force behind movements for change. However, by the late 60s and 70s it was made clear to whites who wanted to participate that they would be in the background and the voice of the movement could not be theirs (Smith 2012, 216-217).

[70] Some found this militant but their reasoning was clear. If Native Americans wanted self-determination, they wanted it in their movements for justice as well (Smith 2012, 216-217). The ideal of listen and learn is at the heart of this format of activism if reform is to occur.

[71] The first Earth Day occurred in 1970, with the goal to create nationwide reflection on the state of the environment locally and globally. In these moments of environmental activism and connection to the landscape, the American Indian stereotype of Noble Savage is utilized.

[72] Their perception of a grass-roots, spiritual and down to earth community, separate from materialistic and pollution ridden corporate America, drew the stereotype of Noble Savage into the mix. While this was occurring in the late 60s and 70s, the American Indian Movement sought to fight for their own rights.


[73] Boas studied the Eskimos as well as Pacific Northwest nations in parts of California (Berkhofer 2011, 301). Boas is an interesting figure to consider in the mix of race, class, and white supremacy brewing at this time, as identified by Huhndorf (2001). Using science as a method of activism in appreciating and equalizing cultures, his contributions are invaluable, specifically in supporting the study and preservation of folklore.

[74] The focus on indigenous groups being exotic and fascinating remains a danger to anthropology in the United States. Why? For the reason that their influence and place in White culture as well as white historical narratives, remains muted.

[75] Weatherford (1992) discusses the fur trade in shaping the American economy. Located as the central point of such evolution is New York, specifically the metropolis of New York City.[75] Weatherford states Indians provided the skilled technology and expertise in hunting and producing quality furs for market sale. Winter would have been the best time for trapping, when animals’ coats were thickest. The idea of the Adirondacks being too cold for Native habitation is further questioned when Weatherford writes that, “Indians had already developed the technology for winter travel” (Weatherford 1992, 78). He specifically talks of the invention of snowshoes, which were created and used for centuries before European arrival by Indians of the Great Lakes, including Upstate New York (Weatherford 1992, 78). Snowshoes are to this day, an iconic symbol of the Adirondacks, on local artisan beer labels, t-shirts, summer cottages, magnets, and so on. Moreover, the growing success of the fur trade due to Indian involvement along the Atlantic Northeast, brought increased European interest in developing colonial America.

Fig. 2.4


[76] It is widely recognized the Iroquois Constitution influenced the U.S. Constitution, written by Thomas Jefferson in the eighteenth century.

[77]  Upon finding this book early in my research, I was shocked to discover the Eastman was not White because of the way it is written and its subject matter during its time period.

[78] For example, Eastman writes, “The Indian must always arouse every fiber of his body before he begins the day” (Eastman 1914, 11). Eastman presents similar language repeatedly: “…The American Indian is the only man I know who accepts natural things as lesson in themselves” (Eastman 1914, 3).

[79] As a non-Native, I cannot speak for someone of Indian cultures when analyzing Eastman’s text. Yet, I can deduce the significance of its publication and widespread adoption by Euro-American youths. In fact, one can still find the book at bookstores and tourist shops in the Adirondacks today.


As discussed by Huhndorf (2011), the Boy Scouts as an organization desired to reestablish traditional masculinity in White American boys, and from the ideas of Eastman’s book, it is evident there was lasting use of Indian ideals in creating rugged or primitive masculinity. Yet in respecting or acknowledging living American Indian nations, the Boy Scouts remained silent. The simplified activities to complete the badge are almost comical in their inauthenticity, taking hundreds of nations and compiling them uniform practices[1] (Hillcourt 1982, 162-163). The 1982 Boy Scout Handbook presents Indian culture as a time for dress up and game, while in reality American Indians were fighting for tangible rights and opportunities.


2.3 What is Heritage? Different Forms of Preservation

The final section of the Literature Review seeks to address American Indian and Non-Indian voices alike, who have recognized the patterns of a Western dominated narrative and how it is affecting Native American communities. It is necessary to understand the case study as a place of environmental preservation combatting established American culture. Often missing from the literature are non-Western ways of defining cultural identity. For Native American cultures specifically, there are often different ways of identifying heritage. This creates divides in methods of preservation between Euro-Americans and Indians.    

In more current events, the Dakota Pipeline protests have shed light on the spirituality connected to land Indians hold close in forming culture and tradition. As seen in Krech III (1999), Whites can be quick to disregard the intricate respect felt towards nature. Sarah Pulliam Bailey (2016) analyzes the concept of cultural identity in the landscape through the case study of the Dakota Pipeline. The oil pipeline was proposed to be built through sacred Sioux land in South Dakota. Certain key individuals in government and business were indifferent to the demands to reconsider the geographical placement of the intrusive pipelines. This led to protests which began around April of 2016. Natives were joined by non-Natives, who occupied the frontlines of proposed construction, voicing that not only was this land connected to religion, but its waters fed a reservation. The fight to halt the pipeline made national and global news as U.S. armed forces utilized overzealous means to ‘tame’ generally non-violent protesters.

            Professor Rosalyn LaPier of the Blackfeet Nation is quoted in explaining the importance of  recognizing this protest as an example of protecting cultural heritage. Here the discussion is not about a building, a manuscript, or archeological remains. It is land, the earth and its waterways. LaPier states, “Belief that a site is sacred rarely translates into federal protection of Native American places for their religious significance” (Bailey 2016, 2). LaPier defines a sacred site as, “…Places set aside from human presence…those set aside for the divine, such as a dwelling place, and those set aside for human remembrance, such as a burial or battle site” (Bailey 2016, 2). The challenge here, is recognizing one culture’s right to claim and preserve its sites of religious and cultural significance in a world dominated by and tailored to another culture.

            Stephen Pevar, an attorney specializing in Indian rights cases, explains in the article, that Native Americans have an attachment to the land and almost every tribe has its own sacred lands. Pevar states, “To the Indians, this is both water and it’s religion, whereas many white people seem to be pretty dismissive about the religious aspect and view it as more environmental” (Bailey 2016, 1). He goes on to make a comparison to the Holy Land of Bethlehem, Jerusalem, arguing if the pipeline was being built there, the outrage would be readily recognized. Unfortunately, Pevar explains, there is not currently an equalized platform for understanding the two places as similar in spiritual significance (Bailey 2016, 1-2).  

This idea of understanding cultural connection to landscapes comes into play when considering this Thesis’s case study, the Adirondack Park. Considering the history of environmentalism in the United States, it is not surprising that to many, the region of the Adirondacks, until the 1800s, was not considered a place worth visiting or preserving. However, this cannot dominate the concept that because white settlers related to the region one way, other groups could not have interacted with it quite differently. Land, culture, and history need to be considered as much closer factors than in typical Western heritage dialogues.

Heritage is a term widely used and commonly misinterpreted. From the perspective of academia, heritage refers most directly to cultural identity, both past and present.  The natural world is a part of cultural identity and heritage thus can be broken down into cultural and natural heritage. UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science & Culture Organization), the international heritage body under legislation of the United Nations, has begun to explore these two ‘types’ of heritage as united in the term ‘Mixed.’[2] Yet, this is one small step forward for such a perspective regarding what constitutes cultural identity and its deserved preservation.[3] While according to Native American history, there could be thousands of sites representing this Mixed qualification, only one is listed by UNESCO in the United States, in Hawaii.

Papahānaumokuākea is a National Monument located along the Hawaiian archipelago, established as a federally protected preserve in 2006. It has been recognized by UNESCO since 2010 and is listed as a ‘Mixed’ heritage site in the United States, in that it has both cultural and natural criteria. In 2016, the site was expanded over four times in size to add additional conservation of the marine life in the region. Papahānaumokuākea is acknowledged as a site of historical, cultural, and environmental importance. It is culturally recognized by UNESCO due to its extensive archeological remains from pre-European contact. This refers to indigenous cultural significance and built environment evidence that sheds light into their history and society. Yet also environmentally this site is understood to hold cultural significance to Native Hawaiians as the biodiversity of the region is scientifically but also spiritually critical to the history of Hawaii (UNESCO, 2017). The controversy over the recent expansion of the National Monument to increase its protection of the ocean was centrally opposed by commercial fishing. The locals and native groups saw this generally as a victory (Kerr et al. 2016, 14).

Despite Papahānaumokuākea’s relative success in Hawaii, it still seems like something is missing in heritage criteria in general. Culture and landscape are understood as separate. Cultural landscape is a well enough accepted term, but it centrally applies to tangible human remains past or present which reveal culture based on Western terms.  However, there are academics and local communities which recognize the natural world as central to preserving cultural identity. The relationship of culture to land, and land to culture, present benefits at both ends and to a wider range of communities: "Through cultural seascapes, people can recognize the important link between man and nature and that they cannot be seen as separate entities but rather related parts of a united whole” (Kerr et al. 2016, 14). This ideal that Kerr et al. write of identifies unity in heritage, something the U.S. must embrace if it wishes to move away from engrained racial/ethnic divides. Moreover, Kerr et al. (2016) undeniable divide between culture and nature in heritage. Heritage is fairly new as a concept, originating in the United Kingdom, not more than a century ago.  With this knowledge in mind, it becomes less convoluted as to why this divide exists in heritage today. Yet, Western cosmology and identity have become quite disconnected from land, and this poses a serious threat to indigenous cultural identity, which remains significantly linked to their respective landscapes. The United States has a long and complicated past with its own ingenious communities. In deciphering the disadvantages of indigenous Americans in heritage preservation, this thesis does not want to place the idea of ‘victim’ on American Indians.[4] Nevertheless, it is critical to examine the ways ethnicity, race, and class affect the larger narrative in who ‘owns’ heritage.

One other significant case involving ownership of indigenous landscape offers insight in expanding heritage’s definition by exploring the relationship between Western industry, White blue collared workers, and the needs of Native peoples. The 1977 Report published by Canadian politician, Thomas R. Berger was an inquiry into Canada’s Native communities in the Northern Yukon. I include this text despite it taking place in Canada, is that its story is one easily found in the U.S. Berger was asked by the Canadian government to travel to the Arctic region of the country to assess the impact of an oil pipeline proposed to be built through a region occupied by Athabascan speaking communities as well as Inuit people. [5] The compilation of Berger’s conversations with locals, public forums, and personal research revealed the dichotomy of human perspectives on the natural world. On one end, to primarily Whites, the natural environment has been seen as a resource for economy and society’s progress. On the other end, primarily indigenous communities, have and continue to view land as central to their sustenance but also their spirituality.

Berger argued that the region was not ready for the pipeline. Its impact on the environment and wildlife would be overwhelming and threaten already scarce species in the Arctic. He identifies the cultural relationship Aboriginal Canadians had with the landscape, under threat by development. In interviewing one of the only year-round occupied towns in the Northern Yukon, Old Crow citizen, Alice Frost asked: “Do [the white people] have a right to ask us to give up this beautiful land of ours? Do they a right to spoil our land and destroy our wild game for their benefit? Do they have a right to ask us to change our way of life, that we have lived for centuries?” (Berger 1977, 65-66).  Here we return to the question discussed in the Introduction, of what is progress. To those that were for the Mackenzie Pipeline, progress looked considerably different than for the indigenous communities to be affected by development.  The government of Canada decided to listen to Berger’s findings, showing policy can play a significant role in changing Western dominated views on what the future of North America should look like.

Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) conducted television specials on the Mackenzie Pipeline halting aftermath, specifically speaking with frustrated White working class individuals who would had had jobs if the pipeline had been carried through. It is important to hear their opinions as well as they reveal a dependence on the ideals of industry which ignore environmental degradation. For many in the United States as well, recognizing the working class Euro-American and his needs is easy to locate, in contrast to Native American voices. This circumstance can be seen in the Adirondack region. There are those that have and continue to oppose environmental preservation controls of the region, believing they in fact hurt the residents of the Park. 

During the same era, a similar conflict was brewing in the Adirondacks, yet the voice of Native Americans was not present. Peter H. Gore and Mark B. Lapping (1976) argued that for the 120,000 full time dwellers of the Adirondacks, the New State Forest Preserve’s regulations on industry and development were making it increasingly difficult to earn a decent wage.[6] According to Gore & Lapping, “In areas of unique environmental quality and de-pressed socio-economic conditions like the Adirondacks, a balanced perspective and approach must be pursued” (Gore & Lapping 1976, 358). The ‘Forever Wild’ clause of the New York Constitution (“The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands” (DEC 1885)) had always been unpopular with industry workers who were full time Adirondack residents. And so, from the point of view of Gore & Lapping in 1976, the balanced perspective Euro-Americans were demanding was one of all classes. The race or ethnicity dialogue was excluded in considering the expansion of environmental preservation versus way of life.

Carl Wilmsen (2007) explores this assumed Western control of the natural world and its resources.[7] The ethnic turbulence becomes apparent when dealing with land rights and combatting stereotypes in the process.  He states, “Protagonists in environmental conflicts all have their own visions of how resources should be used and managed, and they all frame their visions in terms that they hope will sway public opinion and persuade policy makers and power brokers to adopt practices and formulate policies that will advance their interests” (Wilmsen 2007, 2). What Wilmsen argues, is that communities, including Indians, each have their own interests in natural resources. Moreover, he acknowledges, unlike Krech III (1999), that as the distribution of the resources and subsequent economic advantages unravel, it determines social rank and community sustainability[8] (Wilmsen 2007, 5-9). In, New Mexico, it is Hispanic Americans[9]  who confront more opposition when seeking land rights, while Wilmsen argues Native Americans tend to have more advantage from cultural stereotypes. [10] Nevertheless, the dominant hand in natural resource management falls to Euro-American whites. The concept that they have the best science and technology has allowed a continued hold on the subject (Wilmsen 2007, 33-34).[11]  

Compared to earlier stereotypes of savage warlords, as well as in contrast to other racial minorities like the Southwest’s Hispanic community, one could allocate a sense of profit to American Indians’ image today. However, this stereotyping not only simplifies American Indians’ diverse traditions, it selects key ideas to directly benefit Euro-American initiatives. Linda Marsa (1992) quotes Professor of Native American Studies, Jack D. Forbes, who states, “Native American culture is constantly being exploited and appropriated as illustrations of whatever European theory is in fashion…” (Marsa 1992, 1). Bron Taylor (2017) examines this issue in the use Indian inspired ideas and ritualism in modern New Age culture[12] and environmental movements. Taylor argues these trends harm cultures being appropriated for Euro-American benefit. Forbes asks America, “When will the thefts of our spiritual traditions end?” (Marsa 1992, 1). Marsa argues this continued appropriation and oversimplification have larger consequences than many Whites wish to recognize.

In 2001, a similar narrative was delivered by Navajo Indian and Federal Tribal Consultant Rena Martin. Martin (2001) writes of the cultural connection her nation, among others, have constructed in the landscape. Martin argues that this makes it difficult to leave for opportunities because one must turn their back on a vital part of their cultural identity. She also emphasizes the need for educated Indians to come back to their reservation or the cycle continues and communities stay underprivileged. Having worked with the government and the National Park Service, Martin explains she has witnessed the continuing disappearance of Navajo cultural landscapes. Consultation often seems to accomplish little, though it does at times give Native Americans opportunities to have their ideas heard (Martin 2001, Web).  Nevertheless, Martin charges the U.S. government as lacking interest and investment in preserving Indian cultural landscapes: “Please, all you federal agents, don't take things personally. Perhaps when Native children are no longer able to repeat the traditions and ceremonies associated with landscapes, our jobs of protecting their heritage will be easier than it is today (Martin 2001, Web).” Frustrated with the ongoing denial of cultural heritage’s importance in ancestral land, Martin echoes the saddening thought that the image of Indians being of the past could soon become reality. 

Considering this current divide in heritage, the need to recognize living American Indians and their claim to cultural influence and presence must be expanded. One way to create this change is through education plans and policy. Iroquois educator Margaret Bruchac presents an education lesson plan to teach American students of Abenaki Indian heritage. Bruchac (1999) published a collection of primary sources from the late 1700s and early 1800s by White historians who claim the last of the Abenaki were dying out (Bruchac 1999, 17-18). She then shows primary sources of the era that reveal continuing Abenaki presence. Furthermore, Bruchac explains that the Abenaki like other nations, played into the stereotypes, creating arts and crafts with Plains motifs to capitalize on Euro-American tourism. She evaluates students’ ability to decipher the disconnect between primary source evidence and modern teaching disregarding Abenaki presence. She also explains that our ways of learning should not be restricted to written text; oral tradition and material objects can also reveal information (Bruchac 1999, 23-25). Gaining these historical interpretation skills at an early age can create scholars who recognize authentic narratives versus cultural bias.  

             In 1989, educators from the State of Washington also produced a lesson plan to educate students on Native American perspectives. Entitled, “Indians of Washington and the Environment: A Collection of Information and Curriculum Lessons to Assist Educators in Teaching about Tribal Natural Resource Relationship”, the collection of activities strays away from oversimplification in addressing a specific areas nations and connecting their histories to modern day challenges and social rights. With a consideration in ancient and post-contact histories of the region with modern day discourse, the material presented in the lesson plans is thoughtful and progressive in adopting a more balanced narrative of environment. The authors include Native and Non-Native individuals and organizations (Bill et al. 1989,1-20).

            The lessons seek to ask students to consider other ways of life in relation to the mountains, forest, and sea in Washington.[13] For example, in the section, “Now We Call it Washington,” students are instructed in the regional geography and how Native Americans may have used the environment for subsistence, economy, and culture (Bill et al. 1989,13).  The guide is an impressive step forward for shifting western dominated narratives.  However, identifying spirituality and culture in landscapes is still lacking. While the lesson plans offer a focus on environmental use and preservation, the disconnect of cultural and natural heritage in the education policy is problematic because it bases the identities of the Native Americans in a (at times) primitive sustenance without linking culture to way of life in a deeply significant way for students.


This thesis’s literature review was cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary because the Adirondacks as a region, is constantly a reflection of environment, cultural identity, and social tension. The literature in this section became varied in information when discussing Adirondack history. One begins to wonder why authors who clearly have not heavily researched Native American heritage in the region, feel the need to state it in forming the narrative. Claiming an apparent confidence in the history of the region, several authors oversimplified without thorough investigation. No matter the subject, this impairs an accurate understanding of the Adirondacks.[14] In between poorly researched and overstated texts, are certain sources with actual interest and care in looking for evidence in more varied places, including archeology, journals and letters, material culture, and natural science. Combining these avenues of research with previous academic findings reveal detailed Indian histories in the region, which trace Indian presence throughout several stages of history (pre and post White settlement).

The significance of this discrepancy is that it plays into this idea of a Western cultural dominance continuum. If respected sources repeat solely a White Man’s history, it becomes ingrained in the average American learning about the country’s cultural heritage. The Adirondacks’ own story falls into specific trends that perpetuate the muting of Indian voices in the historical narrative. All throughout what is now the United States, there were incredibly diverse and culturally rich communities in hills, flat lands, mountains, ocean coasts, and river valleys. The possibilities for research in the Adirondacks is in large quantity, yet the lack of academic focus, interest, or even belief in their connection to landscape has let the region embody this invisibility of Indian presence.

So how do American Indians continue to experience considerable disadvantage in preserving their heritage and being represented accurately in U.S. historical narratives? It comes from using and abusing another culture’s identity. This disadvantage comes from a divide in heritage in understanding culture can be and should be in nature too. It comes from miseducation, misrepresentation, and a belief in the insignificance of a set of cultures’ importance to American heritage dialogues. Such ideas are transferred to education and preservation policy’s focuses. The case study fieldwork will allow another entry point in understanding the main issues and solutions in increasing American Indian heritage representation in the Adirondacks.


Chapter Three


The process for this thesis is structured in qualitative research methods. The basis for the fieldwork is in ethnographic practices specifically. Despite the detailed literature research, first hand accounts, opinions, and perspectives were needed to better understand the human side to the data. This thesis had the broader goal of accessing the key voices in understanding cultural heritage’s western dominance in the Adirondack Park, from the public education point of view. This meant that the individuals interviewed were varied, from academic/scientist to heritage tourist, and from Indian to non-Indian. While the literature has already revealed the need of academics and policy makers to consider Western control on historic narratives, the public play a major role in continuing such processes and so both were consulted in the fieldwork portion of the research.

The objectives of the research were two fold. One was to understand how misrepresentation in heritage occurs and what perpetuates it. Two was how to halt this cultural dominance continuum locally and set standards for national policy on preservation and education. The focus for the case study was Native American heritage in the Adirondack Park of Upstate New York. The first main group of research, Camp Santanoni heritage tourists (sample group of 26 participants) and participant observation at The Adirondack Museum offered insight regarding the first objective. The second objective was fulfilled by interviewing academics, Indian cultural preservationists, and Department of Environmental Conservation employees; all who surround the Adirondacks mountains and intersect with the societal institutions in place with allow misrepresentation of Native Americans in the region. They were able to offer experiences, insights, and what has and has not worked regarding the expansion of heritage in the Adirondacks. In formulating these processes for fieldwork and analysis, I drew upon Foley and Valenzuela (2005) who represent two main directions cultural critiques can go in ethnography. Foley bases his work more in collaboration in other related disciplines and institutions, in the hope of reaching the masses more directly. Valenzuela on the other hand, identifies as remaining more in the circle of academia, with the goal of impacting public policy within the political realm (2005, 217). For the purposes of this thesis, the research questions attempt to follow a collaboration of direct public connection with concepts applicable to more governmental and institutional reform.

Research Questions

  1. What is the public perception of Native American presence and influence in the Adirondack Park, compared to representation in relevant literature?  
  2. How do we expand and educate accurately the public of Native American heritage in the Adirondacks?

My research questions and approach followed ethnographic procedures. Generally, there was a qualitative approach to the research. The only quantitative methods that were utilized was in creating graphic images of numerical data which can be viewed in the Case Book Appendix.  Because I was interested in stories, opinions, histories, and geographies, qualitative research was the sound pathway for the research. Understanding public perception was the research’s goal, and so qualitative approaches including interviewing and participant observation offered this form of data as it would allow behaviors and points of view to be gathered.

For Research Question 1, the method for answering this question was to interview recreational tourists interested in history and heritage in the Adirondacks, be they local or from outside the park. I worked at a heritage site which offered access to a sample group of heritage tourists. Working at Camp Santanoni gave me a good mix of tourists though, as the site is five miles in on a road you cannot access by car. Surrounded by lakes, mountains and forest, the destination is a rustic architectural gem.  Some came for nature, some for the historic Great Camp, some both. Along with speaking with this group, I also attended the Adirondack Museum on Blue Mountain Lake (recently renamed The Adirondack Experience). This museum is the largest in the region for telling the public history, culture, and landscape. There had been an exhibit on Native American history which had just opened in July of 2017. Conducting participant observation, I was able to assess the exhibit in the larger context of the museum and how the public interacted with it.  

For Research Question 2, I needed to speak with individuals who can or do play a role in how the public perceives Adirondack heritage.[15] I spoke with three professors, two Departments of Environmental Conservation officers, one Indian museum curator and educator, one chief, and two educators/performers. They all had different perspectives on my topic of research, yet all added valuable data in how to create change based on what has and has not worked. The information they offered was more cumulative, in understanding the Adirondacks as a whole. At the same time, their knowledge was more specific as this was part of their occupations. This section of interviewing occurred after the sample tourists and museum participant observation had been conducted for Question 1.

The fieldwork conducted with visitors at Great Camp Santanoni occurred in Newcomb, New York, a town in the central Adirondacks, between July 9th and 26th of 2017. Newcomb has about 500 year-round residents, though originally it was a booming center for mining. Camp Santanoni is located in the DEC Preserve and one must walk, horseback ride, travel by horse drawn carriage, or bike the five miles to reach the historic site. Santanoni receives about 15,000 visitors annually throughout the four seasons it is open to the public. Access for interviewing was fairly simple. I worked as one of the summer tour guides and would already be conversing with the public. Those that seemed interested in my studies, I would ask to partake. I would show them an information sheet and they would sign a consent form. All signed off on their real names being recorded in the thesis, though they had the option to use an alias. The interviewing was semi-structured as I had certain questions to ask in our conversation, but unstructured conversation was also encouraged. There was a list of nine questions interviewees were asked to respond to aloud (not by writing done answer).  Some did the interviewing individually, others as groups. In total, 28 people were included in this section of the fieldwork. One can review in the Appendix the information sheet, consent form, and nine question survey the participants received.

Participant observation was conducted at The Adirondack Museum (Experience) in Blue Mountain Lake, New York, a 35-minute drive from Newcomb, New York. The museum opened in 1957 and remains a popular destination for tourists and locals alike to learn about Adirondack history. It is an immense museum, spread out across several building. The newest building, “Life in the Adirondacks,” was built to include more everyday people who lived in the region and made it what it is today. This building included an exhibit entitled “Peopled Wilderness.” The exhibit discussed American Indian presence and influence in the Adirondacks.  I told the front desk where I worked and that I was researching Indian heritage in the Adirondacks. They said it would be fine if I study the exhibit and how it works with the rest of the museum. I took notes during and after, but mostly I took digital pictures to record the experience of the new building the Native American exhibit specifically. I spoke with one employee recording people flow in the exhibit as well as informally interviewed a Mohawk basket weaver displaying her work in the Peopled Wilderness exhibit. This woman signed off on having me use her comments and allowed her real name to be used.

For the second main group, in desiring data for Research Question 2, fieldwork was conducted in a semi-formal to informal style throughout, but some interviews were in person, and some were done via phone or email.  The professors I interviewed worked at nearby universities but because I did not have access to a vehicle, we spoke on the phone and I took notes. One DEC officer and I spoke via email as he said he preferred it to the phone. Those that I could meet with, we spoke in person again with a few set ideas to discuss, but keeping conversation informal and respectful. This was specifically important to me when interviewing American Indian individuals Kay Olan, Roy Hurd, John Fadden, and Don Stevens. I could sometimes sense skepticism and I wanted to present myself as a researcher but also as sometime genuinely interested in what they had to share. This interviewing took place at Camp Santanoni’s Visitor Center and my home for the summer, the Six Nations Indian Museum in Onchiota, New York, Franklin County, and an Abenaki Heritage Festival in Barton, Vermont. All participants of Native American heritage signed off on me using their real names, as long as they had a chance to see the typed up version of our conversation and approve it is how they wished to be portrayed. Those that were not of Native American descent signed off on the use of their real name without the requirement that they see the typed up version, revealing again this need of American Indians to be skeptical in White academia.

I conducted both semi-structured in individual and group formats, as well as unstructured with individuals. The basis for the use of one type of interviewing actually was connected partially to the reflexivity of myself as the interviewer. In a very academic or structured format, I was aware the relationship between me and the interviewee could risk becoming cold and simplistic. I wanted there to be discussion and the loose but informative flow of ideas in constructing these interviewing. For the semi-structured, the participants needed some sense of structure to help guide them. There were also time constraints on the semi-structured participants and so a set of questions to lead the discussion aided in addressing this factor. I enjoyed the group dialogues but sometimes participants would not answer all questions if it seemed enough people answered. The other issue I encountered was in digitally recording interviews (using my cell phone). While it was the most accurate way to record responses, in group interviews it became difficult to identify who was saying what when transcribing the interviews and so sometimes, transcription was left vaguer within the group. I learned there must be better methods of maintaining exactness in this style of recording.  Interviews that were done on the phone allowed ease of conversation while I took notes. Since I was not recording word for word, some comments or thoughts may have been missed in my notation. Yet in general it was a decent method of recording the interview.  Email was only used with one interviewee and it was a clear and simple way to communicate, but it did lose some of the unique nuances of speaking in person or on the phone.

In analyzing my own place in the research at hand, reflexivity was necessary. In The SAGE Handbook (2005), Laurel Richardson and Elizabeth Adams St. Pierre ask the researcher to be self-aware of his or her particular perspective in compiling qualitative research. Beyond this, they articulate the need to remain steadfast to ethnographic ethics in the field that must be reviewed by the researcher when sitting down to write a final product (Denzin & Lincoln 2005, 964).  I am aware that even though I believe my intentions are honorable in researching this topic, as a non-Indian, there will be concepts and perspectives I can never completely understand. This became a factor that shaped the fieldwork, specifically in the style of interviewing when interviewing American Indian individuals.  I never felt like my gender was a significant disadvantage when conducting the second section of fieldwork. When working with heritage tourists at Santanoni however, gender sometime did play a role in the way people spoke to me, be it more intimate when woman to woman, or more distant and condescending (though rare) with conversations with male participants. In keeping the structure somewhere in between semi-structured and un-structured, this created a better sense of trust and allowed more open discussion of ideas. Overall, I felt as a young and enthusiastic student, people were willing and often interested in speaking with me and aiding me in my fieldwork.

Further reflecting my own place in fieldwork and research, my intentions have and continue to be as a scholar, to challenge the way history is told in America and acknowledge the harm which occurs when a culture is removed from the landscape. This is something that is linked to the principles of heritage preservation and social justice as discussed earlier in the Introduction chapter. However, I may at times be overly critical and/or cynical of opinions that perhaps should have been taken at face-value. My background in history and geography has taught me that societal perceptions are complex and hardened when it comes to creating cultural equality. Therefore, my need to analyze and assess was central to the research.

In analyzing the data retrieved from conducting fieldwork, I was able to decipher three main variables that appeared in the data from the two research questions:

Research Variables

  1. Miseducation - Lack of Accurate & Detailed Sources
  2. Oversimplification - Appropriation and Stereotyping of Native American Cultures
  3. Issues in Policy - Western Divide of Nature from Culture in Heritage Preservation

The basis of creating research questions[16]  was to explore the specific variables that reflect cultural inequality in heritage preservation in United States. In analyzing the case study of the Adirondack Park, it became clear through conducting research, that there were detrimental misconceived notions of Native American insignificance and invisibility in the Adirondack region. In discovering the questions’ key variables, a cultural dominance continuum was formed to visualize succinctly, the complexity of the lasting misrepresentation. The continuum can be viewed in the Case Book Appendix.

            Miseducation (1) became visible early on in conducting Camp Santanoni fieldwork and then reappearing in discussions with DEC agents, academics, and Indian community figures. Oversimplification (2) was something subtler which came from being in the region for 12 weeks, engaging with people and places across the region in fieldwork and in day to day activities. Issues in policy (3) were almost always the point of conclusion in what has prevented reform but also the hope for the future when speaking with academics, DEC agents, and Indian curators, performers, and educators. Breaking down the data into variables made the fieldwork research easier to understand and synthesize for the purposes of the thesis. The creation of the continuum furthered this need to simplify often complex and elusive trends in American society. Being able to highlight major trends in the fieldwork allowed a clear analysis of the data.

            Like any form of research, talking with more people always offers more data. It would have been useful to attend other locations that held Native American history exhibits around the Adirondack region including one in Glen Falls, New York. I was limited by the fact that I did not have a car. I was only able to travel with friends or by using their cars. I also would have liked to have gone to Albany to the State Museum to see the archeological remains the museum holds from the Adirondacks and speak with collections managers there. The participants at Camp Santanoni were often older and I was limited to a large percentage of data coming from middle aged individuals. I would have liked more responses from younger heritage tourists. Moreover, because I did not have a vehicle, I did not get to visit the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in Upstate New York, just an hour outside of the Adirondack Park. They have a cultural center that I would have liked to explore and speak with the curators there. Having a car and more time to travel and record would have been appreciated. However, considering these limitations, I do feel I was able to gather an adequate and varied collection of fieldwork data to answer the research questions.


      Chapter Four

Recognizing Native Heritage in the Adirondack Landscape


4.1 Analysis of Research Question One: What is the public perception of Native American presence and influence in the Adirondack Park compared to the representation in relevant literature?

            The primary sources relating to the variables in the Literature Review (Miseducation, Oversimplification, and Policy) present tangible interactions with the main factors in the cultural dominance continuum of Adirondack heritage. The following chapters will reflect upon the literature in comparison with the thesis’s collected fieldwork data to identify key ideas and conclusions towards expanding the narrative of a Native America in the Adirondacks. In response to the first Research Question, heritage tourism interviews and Adirondack Museum participant observation will be reviewed in relation to the literature.

            The interviewing of Santanoni visitors offered a sample population’s perceptions on Native American history in the Adirondacks in relation to their own views of the region, its environmental preservation precedent, and its cultural identity. As discussed in the Literature Review, there becomes clear a sense in this sample, of the miseducation in identifying Indian presence in the Adirondacks. When I began the interviewing process in July 9th, 2017, I was not sure how my questions would be answered or what exact data would be gleamed from the results. However, once the interviewing evolved, ending July 26th, 2017, I discovered an incongruity between recognizing cultural identity in the landscape (Question 9), celebrating environmental preservation of Forever Wild[17] (Question 6), and having Native American history knowledge/education (Question 7 & Question 8). Of the 28 participants, not one stated they did not personally feel cultural connection to their landscape or environment. However, most knew little to no information about American Indian presence or influence in the region.  Below are the following responses for each group or individuals’ responses to the selected questions. Names have been kept as authentic as no one desired the use of an alias. Questions 1 and 4 offered quantitative data which was transferred into visual measurement.[i] One can read the full interviews/notes in Appendix C.1. The numbers listed with each interviewee at Santanoni corresponds to the demographic data table in Appendix A.1.


4.1.1 Interviews of Camp Santanoni Visitors: Heritage Tourism Sample

(1) Donna Helsbeth, (2) Suzette Paterson, (3) Taylor Rushing, (4) Andrew Miller

When asking if the group had any knowledge of Native Americans in the Adirondack region the response was of minimal amount with some thoughts to Iroquois. They also did not know the origin of the name Santanoni. However, this family group is not from the region, traveling from Vermont and New England area as well as North Carolina. In total though, the answer leaned to no known information.

The group presented a familiarity with Forever Wild when asked. Andrew stated that the Adirondacks is an “incredible place” but “it is very hard to live here” (C.1.1.27). Donna stated that she finds the Adirondacks a symbol hope in a time of environmental destruction. For Suzette, “As my first time to the Adirondacks, I think this is wonderful and we have lost that in so many ways” (C.1.2.30). They were all in favor of such environmental protection, and argued it is important to preserve wildlife and forests, seeing the Adirondack precedent as honorable and unique.

When asking if the participant(s) see cultural identity connected to their own and their communities the responses which much more elaborate. Andrew Miller from Boone, North Carolina, mentioned his experience living the mountainous region of the state (the Blue Ridge Mountains) and the impact the surroundings had on his connection to the land. Suzette, Donna, and Taylor agreed with Andrew’s response and identified to them, it is more a part of the present, thinking of Santanoni as an example. In being my first interview, Question 9 began to reveal itself as an interesting inquiry in that people interpreted the question differently, offering unique insights regarding cultural landscapes.

(5) Dave O’Donnell

Dave is a local of Newcomb who moved south to North Carolina for some time but grew up and has returned to the town. When asked if he knew the origin of the name Santanoni, he stated, “The Indians’ attempt at pronouncing the name Saint Anthony” (C.1.5.15-16). While he had some idea of the believed beginnings of the name, but did not identify the possibility of Indian mockery of the name. When asked of broader Native American history in the Adirondack region, Dave responded that he knew that the Algonquians and Iroquois were around the area and that they were enemies. He also mentioned that the name Adirondack is supposed to mean bark eater. Dave was able to provide more information that the group above, but not much more.

A regular visitor to Santanoni, Dave had much to say regarding the Adirondacks as a cultural landscape and an environment in need of preservation. After living more South, he explains Appalachian Mountains region is heavily developed, and one is able to see what happens when there is no intervention. The current regulations of Forever Wild according to Dave has allowed continued preservation, something he considers vital to keeping the area the way it is meant to be. Growing up in the town, he states he remembers seeing pictures of Newcomb at turn of the 20th century when everything was cut, and the forest we have today was yet to grow. However, Dave identifies there is a kind of class split in how residents and tourists view the environmental laws in the Park. Dave states, “If you do not have the money you are not going to go out and enjoy the nature” (C.1.5.30-31). He explains some believe it is a waste to preserve, especially when threatening economic opportunity. I did ask what his father did when he grew up in Newcomb and he said he was a Mailman, which would separate him somewhat from blue-collard jobs. Nevertheless, in reflecting a connection to the landscape, Dave states he brings 2 children to places like Santanoni, to “try to instill a love of history and the outdoors in my own kids” (C.1.5.36-37). While a lot of people in town have not been here and have no interest in history of region, for him learning about the past of the Park and enjoying the ten-mile roundtrip throughout the week is a privilege he cherishes.

(6)Tracy Schrader & (7) Gloria Vohz

Gloria and Tracy are from a larger town in the Adirondacks, Saranac Lake, about an hour from Newcomb. When asking the friends on their own knowledge of Native American history in the region Gloria stated she did not know much but Tracy grew up in near by town of Long Lake. Tracy explains that in her last year of high school, she was required to take Adirondack History. This is where she learned some (now forgets it over the years) history of American Indians in the region. She said the first few chapters of her book discussed some Native American History including Mitchell Sabattis, who was a well know Abenaki Nature Guide of the Long Lake region (16 miles in distance from Newcomb). Origin stories of the name Santanoni were not known though.

Regarding Forever Wild, Tracy stated, “Wonderful, it’s needed. Others places in the country don’t have this protection” (C.1.6.33). “Dido” (C.1.7.34) said Gloria. Gloria says she thinks it sets New York apart that it has this in the state constitution. Tracy agreed, saying it is important and does a lot of good. I asked them, maybe because Tracy just seemed more open and warm than most, had she ever considered it from an American Indian perspective, that in the past, its language insinuates being untouched before Euro-American settlement. Tracy responded saying, “Maybe, it is because Native Americans did such a wonderful job living with nature than the White man ever did” ... “Until White Man decided to settle and say this is my land” (C.1.6.38-41) Tracy was aware of that sense of ownership that came with white settlement. However, she said she had never made the connection between white ownership and the Adirondacks and that that was very interesting to consider. Tracy stated that she enjoyed being challenged in how she thought about the region’s heritage.

            When asked about cultural connection to the landscape, both Gloria and Tracy had much to share. It was something they both agreed to having. More in the present, which seems to be how most people have answered the question thus far. They spoke of the town they are from, Saranac Lake, and how they enjoy the sense of community and beautiful Adirondack hills that surround them. Gloria explains, “Our culture where we live, and our circle, absolutely the landscape is part of the culture. But then I think of others in the community who are living in fallen down apartment buildings and have kids running around. They don’t even think about hiking a mountain” (C.1.7. 53-55). Before, there were more kids in the region, but now young families are not staying in area, as there are few jobs. Sectors like mining had been the main source of income but environmental regulation has halted most of it overtime.



(8)Connie Clarkson, (9)Cheryl Gillespie, (10)Amy Treistman, (11)Barbara Scott, (12)Irene Kohn, (13)Ann Bannan, (14)Lee Williams     

This group of friends is from the Garnett Hill area, ranging 40 to 70 miles of travel distance from Camp Santanoni. Regarding the Forever Wild regulations, one of the women, Lee, who had worked within environmental management said she thinks it is “What sets New York apart” (C.1.14.23) and that it represents a way of thinking but “In order to preserve it you have to be strict” (C.1.14.24). The group agreed passionately. Another participant, Irene, stated that “Forever Wild does not mean leaving everything - it is to have a healthy forest” (C.1.12.31-32). This translates to the idea of issues like leaving forest brush, which can cause forest fires.

We then touched on the way some working class residents in the region think less of the environmental regulations, and they did acknowledge this viewpoint but emphasized the justification of their opinions. We also discussed a case I had talked about with the DEC, in which the DEC is being sued by environmentalist groups for making a new snowmobile path two feet wider than agreed to. The ladies thought they the groups had a right to be upset because, they asked, is a snowmobile path preserving nature in the first place? One of the older women in the group considered their reasoning for building it is to get more people outdoors but they were not too interested in defending the DEC.

When asked of their knowledge of Native American history, only one of the ladies seemed to know anything of significance. She said she knows some information because as a 4th Grade Teacher (working outside Albany), it is part of the school curriculum for New York States. The woman identified more information available on the Iroquois. Someone else in the group asks her, “No Algonquin?” (C.1.8-14.54). She responded, “Not really, mostly Iroquois. More information available” (C.1.8-14.55) This is trend largely seen in my own research as well. She goes on to say the teachers discuss Iroquois history particularly, but it did not seem like she had a large interest in teaching section, that it was merely something she was required to do with her students. One of the younger women, Barbara, mentioned that she read Curt Stager’s 2017 article, “Hidden Heritage”, in Adirondack Life. She stated the article really changed her perceptions of Native American heritage in the region. The group admitted, “Without you mentioning it, it is easy to assume European influence but it would nice to see/learn more Native American heritage” (C.1.8-14. 58-59). Regarding the origin of name Santanoni, the ladies did not know from where it came.

When asked if they feel they have cultural identity in the landscape, one woman responded, “Throughout history we are shaped by the geographies we are surrounded by but as we modernize we are losing this” (C.1.8-14.62-83).  The group agreed unanimously that they do feel this cultural connection, and more in the present. They related it to where they live, Garnett Hill, which is a neighborhood which caters to outdoor recreation and offers trails, specifically in cross-country skiing. They see this as a community which enjoys nature and builds its character in its scenery and close-knit identity.

(15) Jack Abbott

      Jack is from the Glen Falls area which is about 100 miles of travel from Santanoni. He was with a group which plans excursions for veterans, some who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When asked how he feels about the legislation of Forever Wild, Jack states he has the 100- Year Anniversary of Forever Wild poster, and says he “We love it, the wildness” (C.1.15. 11). He also told me he has climbed fifteen of the high peaks (4,000 feet or higher). When asked of his knowledge of Native American history in the region, he states he some information occasionally in high school. Jack also includes he has gone to the Adirondack Museum which has some information. He also includes that he likes to read about region. Jack believes the Native Americans in the area did not like to live here in winter, that it would have been too cold. He argues they would have stayed down in Mohawk Valley (south of the Adirondacks). Jack thinks the mild climate in close proximity would have made for only temporary/summer settlement in the region. He also mentions the name Adirondacks, that is means ‘bark eater,’ which he thinks signifies the idea that American Indians would risk starvation in winter in the region. Regarding the name Santanoni, he did not know its origins and had assumed it was a family name. Regarding cultural identity in the landscape, Jack states for him it is more about the present day, something he feels in getting outdoors, camping, hiking, more than the (cultural) history perhaps. He also includes that he ran an Outing Club at the high school where he taught, and the girls and boys loved it as much as he did.

(16) Donna Hamilton, (17)John Gaddy, (18)Deborah Gaddy,

            This group was from the region, but also had spent time outside of it. Donna grew up nearby Lake George, but now lives outside San Francisco. Deborah and John live in nearby Bolton, New York but John grew up in Long Island. When asked of what they think of the Forever Wild precedent, John states that he thinks it unites a lot of different aspects and is happy with it, explaining he believes most are. However, he does point out, some are having considerable trouble with finding jobs and that recreational tourism is raising prices on houses. Yet the group agrees, it is important to preserve the land, arguing sustainability in the long run will benefit everyone. Donna adds, “I think a good part of it is about perspective…” (C.1.16.33-34). John responds stating,” Yeah, and why are we still dependent on these harmful industries?” (C.1.17.35). They all see that there may be bigger issues behind the environmental regulations social implications for full time residents.

When asked if they had any knowledge of Native American history in the region, John and Donna state, “not really” (C.1.16-17.39).  Deborah says she remembers from her middle school teacher Randy Roberts, who made maps with her class, and knew there was a connection to Native history in the name Santanoni. When asked about their idea of connection to landscape, John states that, “A good environments good for a good economy” (C.1.17.55). Deborah states, “I like living in the outdoors” (C.1.18.57). Donna states, “I feel like I live in the best of both worlds” (C.1.16.61), referring to the fact that she lives in the Redwood Forest but right by San Francisco. She says, “Landscape reflects who I am and what I appreciate, there are different communities, much like when there were Indians here” (C.1.16.62-63).

(19) Mike Prescott

Mike is a retired high school principal from the region who occasionally gives lectures on dams in Adirondacks at the Adirondack Museum.  Like the Sacandaga Reservoir, he explains, several dams were created to control water and harness energy, causing reshaping of shorelines where Native Americans would have left considerable remnants. Regarding Forever Wild, he identifies that historically its was created to stop excessive lumbering and mining, but states that some places of cultural importance, including early 20th century fire towers are threatened by Forever Wild’s ideals. Mike states sometimes environmental protection compromises the history and that people can be extreme on either side the argument.

Regarding knowledge of Native American history in the region, he states he learned a lot from local anthropology professor, Tim Messner, who has also lectured at the Adirondack Museum. Mike believes many Indian archeological sites are covered over by water by the dams including Indian Lake where he believed there is considerable evidence under water. He also mentions Kettle Mountain, which was a proposed canal, explaining the ditch is still visible. Overall, Mike states he is interested in the Indian presence and influence but does not know much. In response to the question about Santanoni, he said he knew there was a connection to Saint Anthony. In being asked about a cultural connection to the landscape, Mike states, “I am attuned to water, canoeing, I actually grew up on a lake…” (C.1.19.47). For him, the dams are of specific interest in understanding the past and present in the Adirondacks.

(20) Sean Easton, (21)Cassandra Pham, (22)Elizabeth Hurley, (23) Paul Marion

Sean and Cassandra have been living in Austin, Texas, but are currently in Upstate New York while Sean finishes his graduate degree. Sean’s family has a house in Long Lake though, and they were visiting them there. Elizabeth and her brother, Paul, are from the Albany area but were camping as they often do, at the DEC campground in Newcomb, at Lake Harris. When asked about the Forever Wild clause, the group generally agreed that is ideal to keep it wild, as there not many places that are well maintained like the Adirondack. Paul was the only one who mentions there is the issue of lower class challenges and that the environmental regulations can be “too heavy of hand” (C.1.23. 36).

            When asked of their knowledge of the region’s Native American history, Elizabeth and Paul said since they go camping in the Adirondacks often, they have learned of region through their recreational activities over the years, but not too much on American Indians. Sean and Cassandra had similar remarks saying they have learned some information from the museums (the Adirondack Museum in particular. Sean also mentioned he has read the usual Adirondack history books at his family’s house in Long Lake and has heard stories as well. Sean went on to state, “As I understand the Adirondack Indians were the bark eaters, and this was a hard place to live, so as I understand there were larger nations more south” (C.1.20.47-49). I explained that while this is often a common belief, archeological and textual evidence reveals this is more a perpetuated myth than reality. Regarding the name Santanoni, no one knew where it was believed to have come from. In regards to the question on cultural connection to landscape, Sean stated,” I think where you are plays a huge role on your cultural identity. It’s going to dictate what you eat, what you wear, dress, your activities” (C.1.20. 64-65). Paul responded with a similar identification of landscape’s influence on design and clothing. Elizabeth chimed in, saying, “Sometimes you are immersed in one culture so much you almost forget until you see another culture. (C.1.22.69-70). Cassandra agreed to these comments.

(24) Rick Davidson, (25)Tom Bessete, (26)Daniel Way, (27)Bill McKibben, (28)Richard P. Mills with Peter Hornbeck & Mike Prescott

This group was on a camping and canoeing trip at Santanoni. They partake in such an expedition in the Adirondacks annually and call themselves The League of Extraordinary Adirondack Men. They were traveling with previously interviewed Mike Prescott, who mentioned he would be back with his friend group. While all in the group were accomplished individuals in their respective fields, I will mention that participant Bill McKibben is a best-selling environmental writer and Professor at Middlebury College in Vermont and Richard P. Mills is the retired Commissioner of Education for the State of New York.  Peter Hornbeck and Mike Prescott also included some thoughts I was told I was allowed to use, but originally did not officially partake in this interview. Peter Hornbeck is a well known name in New York. He is a boat maker of Hornbeck Boats, which are popular lightweight boats resembling a sit-in canoe, made of carbon-fiber material.

  In asking the group about the Forest Wild precedent, Bill stated, “I feel anxious, because I fear that it is under threat. It is harder and harder to maintain the idea that any place in this world is wild, which makes it all more precious” (C.1.27. 35-36). Tom stated that, “We know places you can get far away from a road...more than a day’s walk from a place you can park a car…development will ruin all of that” (C.1.25.37-38). Peter Hornbeck, listening in, comments that it is amazing that such legislation could be passed and good for business. The others agree with the comments in supporting the environmental regulations in protecting the region.

When asked of their knowledge of Native American history in the region, Bill states he knows the meaning of Adirondack is bark eater. He explains he knows this because he stayed at a hotel called Bark Eater. Yet he also includes that, “The Native American History is under developed here. People have subscribed to this myth that there weren’t really Native Americans here in the Central Adirondacks but there are many living links to that history” (C.1.27.44-46). Daniel states he knows of the historic figure, Adirondack Guide Mitchell Sabattis. Daniel, a physician, states he learned from a patient that the town of Sabeil is named after Sabattis. He also mentions there is considerable information about Sabattis’s experiences in the mid 1800s in the “Into the Woods” 1859 Guide Book. Daniel explains that the author of the book lived with Sabattis, and the book includes some text on Mohawk language and its importance. Rick states that he has read work by authors Walter Edmonds and Kenneth Roberts who conducted research when verbal stories of Indians in Adirondacks still existed. Edmonds and Roberts wrote Revolutionary War historical fiction and in their books, talk of Upstate New York Indian divisions (between Iroquois and Algonquin nations) during the conflict. Richard, the former Commissioner of Education states that at conferences in Albany, the St. Regis Mohawk Nation was invited to attend certain meetings. At these meetings, he said he was exposed to some of their traditions, mentioning that women were the leaders, and before work began, long prayers in their language were conducted.

Mike Prescott chimes in, talking of a totem pole on display at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. He states the labeling of the object is and complained to the curator, arguing the casual observer is not going notice it is not of the Adirondack region’s Indian cultural heritage. Mike is frustrated that while this fact is identified near the object, when looking at the totem pole itself, one really has to look for it the label explaining that it is not of Northeastern nations. Mike is speaking of the new Native American exhibit at the Adirondack Museum, stating he thinks people are just passing through it, and it seems to be a “after-thought” compared to the Western heritage which overwhelmingly dominates the museum. While the group states anything is a step forward in educating people of American Indians in the Adirondacks, they tell me Native peoples were not sure they wanted it as it could be done poorly or actually worsen the marginalization of their culture.

When asked if they identify cultural identity in the landscape, Daniel stated he has worked in the Adirondacks for many years, and that “I feel like an Adirondacker. Once you get up either go away or become an Adirondacker” (C.1.26.70-71). Rick agrees, saying he feels he cannot move from where he lives as he resides by the Southern foothills of the mountains and so the Adirondack Park is always easily accessible. He states he has been camping in Park since 1970s and it has created a deep “love of outdoors and wilderness” (C.1.24.75). Bill then speaks, talking of Peter, who has “built the biggest boat business, perfect for the Adirondacks” (C.1.25.76). Bill explains that this represents identity being more in the present than something of the past in stating, “It’s not established, it’s a living tradition...” (C.1.25.77). Richard agrees, stating that since he was young, he has loved being outside. As a child, his mother read to him Mother West Wind Fables and he became convinced that animals could talk. He would spend every possible moment outside, just listening to nature.  He said he mother would bribe him with a baked potato to get him inside the house at the end of the day. That love of nature has remained, and says, “I have to be out here” (C.1.28.80-81). This connection to the landscape survives for this group of life-long friends.

(29) Jim Billings

Jim did not partake in an official interview of the nine set questions due to time limit restraints. While I did not include him in the 28 interviewee count, I will mention him here as he was of the only visitors to Santanoni who had Native ancestry; he was kind enough to share some information of his own life with me. We began talking as I was explaining some Adirondack Indian history to another person on the tour and Jim wished to know more. He explained his grandfather on his mother’s side was a Hopi medicine man. Jim is part Cherokee and part Hopi and grew up around Oklahoma, but has recently moved to Long Lake where he has family. He agrees Native Americans are misrepresented in Adirondacks and was curious to know what I knew through my research. As Jim is not from the region he did not know much on Indian nations in the area himself. He works at medicinal clinics at reservations in Oklahoma and said that many American Indians reside in that state due to forced removal in the 1800s. He states that his Great Great Aunt was on the notorious Trail of Tears and he knows this from a photo still in the family’s possession. Jim explains most of his ancestors died who were on the journey and this aunt was one of the only to survive. Jim was excited that I was interested in expanding the narrative and thinks it is much needed. He was also interested in Santanoni’s role in that narrative, specifically in the story of the name.




[1] Activities listed include the hoop dance, eagle dance, buffalo dance, wrestling, and cooking food on embers (Hillcourt 1982, 162-163).

[2] There are a significant number of UNESCO sites centralized to Western Europe and of cultural criteria. The organization has acknowledged this on their webpage and consider its ‘Global Strategy’ to fix this imbalance. On the UNESCO official website, one can find the explanation of what constitutes cultural and natural heritage criteria, to be considered for World Heritage Site recognition. Until 2004, Cultural Criteria was broken down into six aspects and Natural Criteria into four. Today, the ten still exist but as one list of criteria (UNESCO 2017). Mixed sites are ones in which there is both significant cultural history and natural uniqueness.

[3] Occularcentrism may play in role in this the persistence of the culture-nature divide in heritage. The term is derived from the idea that Western culture, of all the senses, places vision as the ultimate perceiver of information. The fact that cultural connection to land is not rooted in tangibility or vision of a built environment, has made it difficult to be open-minded to the cosmology of indigenous groups. The fact that heritage professionals cannot see, read, or touch spirituality not only contradicts much of Western cultural identity, but creates a divide in heritage because of one culture’s dominance in heritage and how it is managed in United States. Therefore, in addressing the origins of how heritage is understood and preserved, we can better realize the patterns that benefit and those that harm heritage preservation. Understanding the importance of local individuals is critical in assessing the best way to protect cultural and natural resources.

[4] As seen in Krech III (1999), where he attempts to abolish the idea ineptly in Ecological Indian.

[5] Berger identifies the Dene, Metis, and Inuit as the main voices against the proposed pipeline. The Mackenzie Pipeline threatened to destroy ways of life and the environments closely linked to them.


[6] New York State created a Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks in the 1970s to assess the natural resources in the Park and how to sustain the region in the future. Local opposition ensued as sixty percent of the land in the Commission was private land (Gore & Lapping 1976, 351-352). Beyond the perception that locals did not want to abide by city made laws, was the continued fear low income due to environmental preservation laws.

[7] Wilmsen uses the case study of New Mexico, which is a place of colonial legacy involving not just Native American but Hisapanos (Hispanics).

[8]  This is something Krech III (1999) misses in his analysis of modern day land rights among Native American communities. No matter who you are or your culture, you depend on the environment and your access to it.

[9] Hispanics have often been portrayed in cultural history as ignorant in preserving land compared to both other ethnic minorities and of course, White ‘superiors.’

[10] Native Americans have been able to use this to their advantage only recently with the modern (1960s-70s) conservation movement promotion of Indian environmentalists. This comes with claims to the land as linked to cultural identity, in which Native Americans have more to argue for within the context of colonialism (Wilmsen 2007, 5-9) Furthermore, for New Mexico, Wilmsen explains this pins racial minorities against each other in a sort of triangulation, which in the end continues to benefit Whites (Wilmsen 2007, 34-35).

[11] Wilmsen identifies that in popular culture, the White man has the ability to learn from the Indian, yet he always remains the principal character in the storyline; the Indian is simply used to form White man’s identity to preserve the American landscape (Wilmsen 2007, 34-35).

[12] New Age religion is a modern belief system that blend multiple religions into one including the use of crystals, meditation, chanting, drums.

[13] The state had experienced several American Indian Movement protests in the late 1960s and 1970s, in which environmentalists joined the AIM in what were called ‘fish-ins’ in retaliation to federal government restriction of historically recognized Native land.

[14] It can be argued that such authors are better off not writing of Native American heritage if it is going to corrupt accurateness and steer public perception in the wrong direction. However, not mentioning their presence or history at all, also offers a plethora of issues in educating the reader.



[15] This had to include the community I identified as marginalized in heritage representation: American Indians.

[16] The basis of this thesis’s methodology was to follow formulated research practices with my own creative drive, to explore what had been continuously understudied and underrepresented in larger heritage narratives and platforms. As Strauss and Corbin (1990) write, “We must be very careful to look for evidence in our data and to delineate the forms that they take in our own study” (Strauss & Corbin 1990, 51). It is important to use materials relevant but expand upon previous study to create new ideas unlike other scholars in the field. This was important to me as well, as I did not want to rewrite already concluded research, but take a new angle or direction from the data. To delineate, as Strauss and Corbin state, comes from thoughtful and attuned research questions, which will drive the exploration in relevant literature, primary sources, and fieldwork. Strauss and Corbin write that “The purpose behind the use of questioning is to open up the data: think of potential categories, their properties and dimensions” (Strauss & Corbin 1990, 77).


[17] Forever Wild is a clause in Article XIV of the New York Constitution which states: “The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands” (DEC, 1885).  This law was passed to protect the Adirondacks from industrial development. Today, the culture around its desire to preserve the Adirondacks has remained and grown; the phrase ‘Forever Wild’ is commonly used to represent this environmentalism mentality.





4.1.2 Participant Observation at the Adirondack Museum & (30) Robin Lazore  

Discussed in The League of Extraordinary Adirondack Men’s interview, and mentioned in other Santanoni visitor interviews, is the Adirondack Museum. The Adirondack Museum on Blue Mountain Lake is an expansive and well maintained history museum in the Adirondack Park, which until recently has included minimal information on American Indian presence in the region. However, there is a new Native American Heritage Exhibit (to be permanent), as part of ‘Life in the Adirondacks’ which opened July 1st, 2017. 

Fig 2.5


Entering the Native American room, it is shaped in circles, perhaps to evoke traditional ideals of the circular path of life. “Peopled Wilderness” is the name of the exhibit, not sure how I feel about the name, I think the idea was to imagine the wild Adirondacks with its original inhabitants. The exhibit showcases Abenaki and Mohawk heritage, but does not discuss Mohican stories. The exhibit includes some main sections with different segments within each: Language/Archeology, Artisanal Displays, Traditions Video, Contemporary Art Wall, and Local Materials/Sustenance. Overall, it was refreshing to see the detail and construction of this exhibit. It gave recognition to Native American presence prior to European arrival. I specifically found the map showing major archeological finds across the Adirondack Park and saw that a marker was placed in Newcomb where Santanoni is located.

     Fig 2.6

Fig 2.7

 The language interactive gave me something more tangible in thinking about the name Santanoni. There was a digital screen in which you could listen to Abenaki and Mohawk traditions in the tribes’ languages. Hearing Abenaki and thinking about the possible transformation of Santanoni from San Antoine to Santanoni was quite fascinating and is something I look forward to discussing at the Abenaki Heritage Festival in Vermont on September 1st. I also appreciated the recognition of cultural appropriation of Native American culture, albeit a small mention. Nevertheless, the exhibit has a totem pole which is from Pacific Northwest cultures. This discrepancy is mentioned in the plaque on appropriation but then when looking at the actual totem pole you do not readily realize this issue as a passerby.

However, the exhibit had its flaws. It was small compared to the expensive and technological exhibits that followed this room. Based on the fact that most of the museum discussed Adirondack history starting in the 1800s, “Peopled Wilderness” is only scratching the surface of what could be represented in a museum of clearly sufficient recourses.[1] Nevertheless, the videos on living culture, the recognition and placement of Native America in the larger Adirondack narrative, shows positive signs for the future. There were less interactive exhibits but there was an activity in the ‘Woods and Waters’ exhibit on how to make a traditional Native American basket where you could place straps around a frame. Yet, when exploring the Logging and Boating exhibits after the modest Native American exhibit, there are much higher numbers of people and more use of sensorial activities.  

I spoke with a museum employee who was studying visitor flow patterns in the exhibit. He said the exhibit seems to be doing well but it is brand new. I asked him who researched the information in the exhibit and he said it was a mixture of mostly staff curators and collections collaborating with academic specialists, specifically a professor from the University of Syracuse, which is located just two hours from the the heart of the Adirondack Park. I asked him more about the exhibit and he directed me to a basket weaver displaying her work and methods of creation.

Basket weaver and artist Robin Lazore is from the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, just north of the Adirondack Park. She introduces herself as Mohawk, most likely because it is more recognizable to White audiences. She explains, “I have been coming here for four years and I just love it” (C.1.30.44). Robin has a positive opinion of the museum. I told her I was interested in public perception of Native American Heritage in the Adirondack region and she laughed and said, “Oh, you are way ahead of me” (C.1.30.47). But I told her that was nonsense and that “it’s your opinion I want to hear.” I asked her what she thought of this new exhibit, “Peopled Wilderness”: She stated, “This is wonderful. Very well done” (C.1.30.50). Robin explains it is exciting to have an actual exhibit specialized in her own people’s heritage. Robin makes a living selling her work and demonstrating how it is done to various audiences. She said she makes enough to live comfortably and pay for her sons’ sports activities. Robin explained that she enjoys practicing the art, but few know basket weaving like she does anymore. The elders who were the best have passed and it is not being passed down. She also told me she speaks her traditional language as does her husband and children. It was great to hear that her young children can speak Mohawk and use it regularly.



[1] Based the sheer size and quality of the other museum exhibits

4.2 Analysis of Ethnographic Data

            As one can see in the fieldwork, among the interviewees at Santanoni, most knew little on Native American history in the region. Some mentioned information gained from education platforms, either as a teacher in New York State, as a Commissioner of Education, or being a student in the Adirondack region where they had a specific chance to learn more detailed history of the Park. Others had visited the Adirondack Museum or read books on the region over the years, be they non-fiction or of historical fiction genre. Others knew hardly anything to nothing at all. Some common but isolated pieces of information mentioned include the meaning of Adirondack being bark-eater, a nod to Iroquois presence, and the fact that the Algonquian and Iroquois were enemies.

  Fig 2.8

Fig. 2.8 (Courtesy of Daniel Way)

While few were close-minded to the idea that Native Americans were in the Adirondack region, some did present the impression that they would not have been in the region due to climate or other factors. The confidence of this belief was perplexing based on the fact that no one had a natural sciences or anthropology background. Based on the data, I argue if they did have such knowledge, inaccurate theories many continue to consider fact about the Adirondacks could essentially dissipate. A librarian in the town of Long Lake offered me this same confidence but more proudly than any of the interviewees. I asked the librarian if there were any books in their collection on Native American history in the Adirondacks or Upstate New York generally. He responded that there were none but that is mainly because American Indians were not really in the region. He stated they would have been more along Lake Champlain. I then discovered while still at the library, an archeological site had been found in Long Lake and I told the man this information. He responded that while he supposed there was a summer hunting period, Indians would have left when the cold weather arrived, making them merely temporary settlers.

This idea of temporary settlement among many Euro-Americans, has become difficult to break in considering American Indian heritage in the Adirondacks. As discussed in Stager (2017), the belief that Indians were not really using the region because their settlement was not year round and thus White men could take it, has remained over the centuries. Furthermore, the confidence in such statements about Native American settlement is dangerous as it places Euro-American control on the narrative. In the town of Schroon Lake (within the Adirondack Park), a municipal employee offered much information on Native American history in the region, demonstrating her keen interest in the topic. However, even this woman stated with assurance that anyone who thinks Indians lived in the Adirondack mountainous areas and not by large lakes, clearly does not know the region’s history. Yet even here, while this opinion is backed in local knowledge, her statement is controlling the narrative by assuming her information is definitely the correct information. However, she is neither an archeologist or a natural science expert.  

Moreover, because the literature is varied in the information regarding Native American presence, it is no surprise that the knowledge of the sample of heritage tourists varies from the belief that Natives Americans were not in the region, to arguing they need more representation. As seen in the Literature Review, some authors disregard their presence all together, based on minimal research conducted on the topic. Others, who reveal much more thorough research and at least some interest in the subject, offer a dramatically different narrative for Indian presence and influence on Adirondack heritage. Oddly, it was often easier to find information (of varied accuracy) about Indians in the region in dated sources than those more recently published, which reveals concerning modern day hesitations in expanding heritage representation. With this discrepancy in the literature, it becomes continually challenging to educate the public of accurate and authentic Adirondack heritage. Furthermore, as seen in the fieldwork here, there are not many considerable outlets for learning about American Indians in the Adirondacks, nor is their influence addressed or distinguished when discussing the region’s history.

The new exhibit at the Adirondack Museum, “Peopled Wilderness,” is certainly a step forward as it provides accurate information which is easily accessible to the public in a popular site of heritage education. I was also informed that there was an exhibit running in Lake George, “Ancestral Lands Lost and Reclaimed,” which I was unable to attend, that focuses on American Indian presence in the region.  A heritage site which accomplishes the opposite is in a place of appropriation at Great Camp Sagamore on Raquette Lake; a woodsman’s estate owned by both the wealthy Durant and Vanderbilt families. There is a building on the complex which was named the ‘Wigwam.’ When taking a tour of the camp, I was told it was named this as a nod to Indians who once dwelled in the region.  The structure was a playhouse for the proprietor to drink with male friends, have female escorts over, and be away from the wife and children. The ‘Wigwam’ of Camp Sagamore was in itself this continued use of Native inspired iconography, specifically here in the link between masculinity and adopting Indian stereotypes. Yet the irony remains, as in the Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls, that there was a believed sense of respect in appropriating American Indian culture.

Nevertheless, not all attend museums nor take the time to read labels or study objects on display.  Not even all read or will lean towards fiction or non-fiction, but not both. Moreover, as will be discussed in the succeeding chapter, archeological evidence is kept in the academic realm, preventing hard data of Native American presence from informing the general public’s perception of Adirondack heritage narratives. More universal platforms may be the only truly effective way to change the narrative.

         As studied in the Literature Review, the Adirondacks continues to appropriate stereotypes of Native Americans in material culture and popular practices. Speaking with two visitors to Santanoni, they openly shared that as Boy Scouts in New York in the 50s and 60s, it was normal and celebrated to dress up as Indians and enjoy special rituals, dances, and badges. Today, if one is simply in the region, he or she will see home décor that appropriates American Indian cultures including fabric prints (often Navajo in design, which is a nation of the Southwest), beaded headdresses, snow shoes mounted on the wall (an Indian invention), and even Indian portraits used for thematic decoration. Willa Sweeny, a New Jersey resident who was visiting Santanoni with her family, stayed at the popular hotel, The Hedges on Blue Mountain Lake where she was disgusted to find Indian portraits hung on the wall with other ‘Adirondack’ images. The hypocrisy of this trend reveals this continued Euro-American detachment between appropriating stereotypes of Native American cultures and acknowledging their influence on Adirondack cultural heritage.

So what is the significance of asking (and answering) the following research question: What is the public perception of Native American presence in the Adirondack Park compared to the representation in relevant literature?  Firstly, asking this question reveals the reasoning behind the miseducation and lack of information of American Indians in the Adirondacks. In exploring what resources are available versus what people know and tell you, offers insight into how people learn, if they know anything, and how it affects their ideas of Adirondack culture in our modern day.

With this in mind, if we relate the introspective responses of Question 9 in the Santanoni interviews (Do you see cultural identity as connected to landscapes that surround you and your community, past and present?) to the overall lack of detailed responses for Native American knowledge in the Adirondacks, one can begin to see a Western control when considering other forms of cultural heritage, not only in the Adirondacks, but across the globe.  The fact is, no one seemed to recognize their love and respect for the region’s abundant natural beauty and resources was in actuality an initially ingenious practice in America; a practice and relationship that was cultivated years before European arrival as well as after it. One begins to wonder, why could participants articulate their sense of identity in the landscape, but not connect this understanding with Native American heritage in the region? Because Santanoni is such a quiet and intimate experience with the lakes, forest, and mountains of the Adirondacks, the people I spoke with unsurprisingly felt very close to the natural world of the region. While this analysis does not offer hard data, it does present lasting perceptions and disconnects when appreciating and identifying cultural landscapes in the United States. And this is the basis for important qualitative research.

Moreover, the lack of association in considering American Indian spirituality in the landscape with the participants’ own reverence of the region, can be deduced as a part of the cultural dominance continuum. The lack of education in recognizing cultural landscapes, overwhelmed with the fact that environmentalism is often disconnected from spiritual identity in the United States, becomes evidently a main reason for the misrepresentation of American Indian presence and influence in the Adirondacks today. One can argue, this reverence for the Earth is an appropriation of American Indian ideals in that its structure is key to their cultural identity, yet the acknowledgment of this is not present in the minds or actions of Euro-Americans when shaping relationship to the Adirondacks.  The next chapter will consider how we can, and must, alter this control on the mindset perpetuating misrepresentation, with the thoughts and experiences of trained archeologists, natural scientists, Indian leaders, curators, and performers laid before the reader. 


















                                                 Chapter Five

Ending Western Cultural Heritage Dominance in the Adirondacks


5.1 Analysis of Research Question Two: How do we expand and educate the public of accurate Native American heritage in the Adirondacks?


            The scholarly literature and primary sources have revealed while there is considerable misrepresentation of American Indian heritage in the Adirondacks, there are various methods of halting the cultural dominance continuum. In addressing the disconnect of culture to landscape presented in the heritage tourism fieldwork, evident also from the literature, this chapter seeks to explore information from individuals with actual knowledge and tangible materials which present a larger narrative for the Adirondack Park. Listening to various persons with knowledge, American Indian or white, offered one of the best ways to understand fact from fiction in deconstructing the Adirondack narrative. Translating their knowledge to the wider public then, would perhaps close divides in the region’s sense of cultural identity. 


5.1.1 Individual Interviews for Case Study

(1) Curt Stager           

Speaking with local academics who have studied and excavated Indian archeological remains, offers some key insight on the subject of Native American presence. I first spoke with Professor Curt Stager on the phone, who authored the article discussed above, “Hidden Heritage.” As eluded to earlier, Stager is not a practicing archeologist or anthropologist. Yet he explains, as a Natural Science professor at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks, his work has made it impossible to ignore Indian heritage in the region. Stager centrally studies climate change and evolution; two things he argues that can be difficult to convince people of. He says, “It can be frustrating and then you add in Native American history...Older white men seem to be the most stubborn” (C.2.1.10) Stager states he became particularly interested as Native American history became intertwined in his studies in natural sciences. He visited the Six Nations Museum in Onchiata, New York and saw an Iroquois-made dugout canoe and became very interested in learning more. Stager says people only seem to be interested in history of people who are related to them and look like them, and will continue to disregard the growing database of archaeological sites in the Adirondacks. Stager also adds that understanding the concept of history in its thousands of years in span is often difficult to imagine: “People have a hard time with time” (C.2.1.15) Stager includes that he is interested in environmental reconstruction, which would shed increased light on the earlier climates of the Adirondacks and its first human inhabitants, but funding and previous archeological surveys are scarce in the region.

Stager admits he too is exasperated with the literature out there.  I mentioned some of the authors in the literature review who offer sweeping statements with little research and he stated it is almost always these “scholarly white guys” (C.2.1.23). He goes on to explain that there is overwhelmingly evidence which dismantles most to all myths perpetuated in the Adirondacks. Stager’s own study of the glacial ice ages, the forming of the Adirondacks, and the stages of human evolution in the region, present that during the Late Archaic period specifically, habitation would have been habitable for Native Americans. He also points to written records. While stating many are inaccurate or too biased to decipher fact, there are details included at times, which offer evidence regarding Indian presence. He includes the example of the famed tale of Father Jogues and the naming of Lake George. Jogues was captured by the Mohawks and as the story clearly says, he was taken in the winter, and the Mohawks were traveling with children and elderly. Stager asks, “Why would they do that if they were a hunting group?”(C.2.1.20). While evidence like this could be seen as minor, it combats considerably confident ideas on American Indian presence in the Adirondacks. Lastly, Stager states that there is still a sense of shame to some of Native American ancestry. He mentions a few of his co-workers have told him years after knowing him, that they are Abenaki or Mohawk. One co-worker who is Abenaki told Stager how upset she is that people do not think the Abenaki were in the Adirondacks, in so stating that it always regarded incorrectly as solely Iroquois land.

(2) Tim Messener

Tim Messener is a Professor of Anthropology at the State University of Plattsburg, which is located right outside of the Adirondack Park. For the last five years, he explains he had been increasingly interested in Adirondacks because other academics, simply have not been. As we talking informally on the phone I asked him how he became involved in the study of Native American presence in the region. Messener stated that he was listening to the radio, a show called Adirondack Attic. The host, Flynn, explores Adirondack history in each episode, especially through a material culture lens. This inspired Tim to engage with other forms of material culture as an archeologist. Messener has found driftwood remains which indicate ancient Native American presence and these artifacts have been curated at the Adirondack Museum. He also discussed through regional excavations, he and his students have found pottery remains, leading one to think about more permanent settlement of American Indians. At a dig at Tupper Lake, they discovered a 5,000 to 7,000-year-old camp/settlement. Messener and his students found spear points, food processing tools, and net sinkers for fishing among other smaller artifacts. His other main dig has been at Speculator Lake, which dates to around 1350-1400, placing Americans in the region close to European arrival. The site was originally found by an amateur archeologist in 1980s, where it was determined a settlement, and pottery with decorations, of Haudenosaunee culture most likely, was discovered.

Tim discusses the issue of public misconception of Native Americans in the Adirondacks. This idea of bark eater meaning Adirondack is something Tim states many are quick to point out, but this only has a short history to it. It is linked directly to the Adirondacks being temporary hunting grounds for Natives and a place they faced starvation. Tim identifies there is difficulty in finding significant research and archeological evidence since modern archeology only really begins in 1930s and later in the 1950s for Adirondack region. However, Professor Messener explains another form of studying American Indian history in the Adirondacks. He discusses a term, “experimental archeology.” With this he means alternate forms of learning about and from materials of the past. He has had his students make stone tools, objects with plant fibers, and make teas with local chaga fungus (high in Vitamin C and immune boosting). He also organized a traditional foods event at TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) in which students made pancakes with pine bark flour and white pine powder, challenging this notion of bark-eater and its connotation of starvation and minimal settlement in the Adirondacks before European arrival. Furthermore, these activities connect students in a tangible way to other forms of using and appreciating the Adirondack landscape.

I asked Tim where he would like to see his studies go next. He states, “I want to find evidence in mountains, like they have found in the Andes of South America” (C.2.2.17-18). Messener explains there is certainly possibility of finding archaeological remains in the Adirondacks, but the greatest portion of history is of hunters and gathers, before agriculture. This could have led many to dwell much closer to the peaks than previously believed. While Messener is sometimes frustrated like Stager, Tim thinks, “We are just getting warmed up” (C.2.2.19).  As archeology is fairly new, especially to the region, Tim thinks it is time to change people’s understanding of the past and the controls which dominate Adirondack heritage today.

(3) David Starbuck

            David Starbuck is a Professor of Archeology at Plymouth College in New Hampshire, though is from the Adirondack Park originally.  Starbuck and I spoke in late August on the phone. He conducts considerable excavation in and around the Adirondack Region and was recommended to me by the New York State Museum. Starbuck has published books on the Lake George region, specifically in studying the European conflicts which took place there. While Starbuck expresses his interest in Native American archeology, he explains funding usually goes to projects with guaranteed finds, and so the Indian artifacts and research he has conducted has come from studying sites for Euro-American history, and discovering American Indian artifacts in the process. Nevertheless, Starbuck states, “I am amazed at how little people know about Native Americans [in the Adirondacks]”(C.2.3.11). He states that people if they do know anything, it tends to Iroquois history as it is included in New York education in the 4th grade.

            He has and continues to study Fort William Henry, of the French and Indian War in Lake George, and Roger’s Island at Fort Edward, which is along the Hudson, right outside of the Park’s borders. In 19991, Starbuck says he found a Native American skeleton, just one year after NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act) had been passed, making the discovery an ordeal involving NY State Police Forensics as well as unwelcome media attention. We discussed the ethics of Native American archeology (from an unavoidably White perspective) in that the practice offers much information upon excavation but the disrespect of digging up graves of deceased American Indians is considered to many of Native descent, hurtful and placing their culture as specimens to Western academia. However, Starbuck leaned more towards wishing NAGPRA was less strict as he believes it sways institutions to focus less on sites of Native archeology to avoid the legal headache.

            In discussing public perception of Native Americans in the Adirondacks, he too has heard the classic claims: ‘did not live here’ or ‘only seasonal’ and ‘farther south would have longer growing season.’ While Starbuck states certain aspects of these beliefs could be true, to completely dismiss Mohican, Mohawk, and Abenaki histories is inaccurate. He also identifies that the Mohawk have made it seem they tended to be the only nation in the region which he disagrees with in conducting his own research.  Starbuck states that is often about pride. This can be seen in the way Euro-Americans dominate the narrative, or at least made no real effort to consider other voices/cultures in the narrative. However, he believes times are changing and the Adirondack region cannot ignore its authentic past. Nevertheless, he emphasizes the importance of scholars to publish their work, and to promote their findings to wider audiences in ameliorating widespread miseducation of the region.

(4) Charles Vandrei, DEC

The next two interviews are from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). While not academics, they offer a closer insight into the makeup of managing and understanding the Adirondacks’ heritage. Charles or Chuck Vandrei, who met me at Camp Santanoni to converse, holds a unique position with the DEC. He has been working with the State organization for approximately 34 years. When he began, he worked as an Environmental Specialist in the Cultural Resources Department. He now holds a position which reviews permit submissions in the Park, which need to be analyzed for environmental and cultural impact before being approved.  He states he must, “Balance cultural resources versus green space surviving, especially in analyzing the impact on freshwater” (C.2.4.6-7). I also spoke with Vandrei because he acts as the DEC Officer who consults and works with the New York State Office of Historical Preservation (SHIPO), which means he manages Camp Santanoni; sites of National Register Listing but also on New York Forest Preserve land in the Adirondack Park. He says for this aspect of his job, he “speaks both languages” (C.2..4.10) but states, at least for Santanoni, “SHIPO does not want to really get involved” (C.2..4.10-11)

Vandrei has a background in archaeology and has participated in French and Indian War as well as Revolutionary War reenactments, explaining his interest in the time period. In partaking in such activities, as well as through personal research, he knows of their era’s contact with Native Americans and their roles in the European conflicts. However, his knowledge of Native American presence and influence in the region remained minimal, based solely on his knowledge during times of Euro-American history. Vandrei did mention though, when I then asked him how he thinks Native Americans could be furthered include in land preservation decisions, that New York State is one of the first to include Indian consultation in land management legislation. It is a fairly new program and does not always succeed, with communication issues and time restraints, yet he does present the initiative as a step forward which in the near future, could yield positive results for all parties involved.

(5) Tom Lake, DEC

I first heard Tom Lake talk at the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb, New York, which is run by the State University of Environmental Studies and Forestry in Syracuse. Lake studies the environment of the Hudson River as his DEC position is in the Estuary Department, though he also has a background in archeology. The Hudson River runs through Newcomb and Tom was offering a lecture on the first inhabitants of the Hudson River (before European arrival). He was the first scholar I encountered who articulated the presence and prolonged settlement of the Mohican nation in the Adirondacks. He presented to the audience a similar narrative of the Hudson seen in the Adirondacks, in articulating the phrase “1609-2009, Celebrating 400 Years of the Hudson.” Here Lake states that the date of the region’s heritage is claimed to begin with Henry Hudson,[1] while Lake goes on to present Mohican heritage in the region spanning thousands of years of history.

Lake told me he prefers email to phone and so we emailed in discussing his knowledge, ideas on public perception of Native Americans, and the future of the Adirondack heritage. I first came to him with the complaint that he only mentioned Iroquois and Mohican in the Adirondacks, while I have often seen Abenaki in various forms of research. Originally he responded he considered them a Canadian nation, but I articulated this idea is too narrow in definition. So while he offered much on the less known Mohicans, the Abenaki were less considered in his narrative.

Lake writes that, “Public perception often has little to no knowledge of Native American history in the region and the popular opinion is that it was simply hunting grounds for temporary to spare use by Natives” (C.2.5.34-36). He taught a lesson at the elementary school in Newcomb on Native American prehistory in the region and explained both teachers and students knew barely anything. He says one way he tries to change young minds on Indians is by taking them (mostly 4th and 5th graders) to sites of Indian archeology and letting them feel the place as he explained some stories of the site. Yet some teachers he encountered try to get him to take blame from Europeans and keep things simple, not even wanting to explain history before European arrival. Young people have been hard to access in telling the whole story of Native Americans in the region, but Tom states college aged students are much easier to work with on certain aspects of the topic.

Lake speaks largely of the Mohican Nation, stating “There is a sharp contrast between the "cultural memory" of the two major tribes in our area: Mohican and Mohawk. The Hudson Valley had much value for commerce in Colonial times and the…colonists needed to remove the Native People. As a result, the River Indians (Mohicans) lost (via disease/war/disenfranchising) almost all of their remembered culture” (C.2.5.60-65). He explains that before the 1800s, the value or use of the Mohawk territory was minimal to Whites and they were able to keep their cultural memories alive. On cultural landscapes, Lake writes, “These places were the "Cathedrals" for their culture. When I hear of one being destroyed for development, I wonder how well it would go over if developers tried to raze Saint Patrick's Cathedral for another skyscraper?” (C.2.5.76-78).  As Tom concluded his thoughts, he identified the lasting power of stereotypes in harming accurate representation of American Indians. Moreover, oversimplification coincides with Western dominated ideals of progress, what Lake refers to as “Time’s Arrow” or a linear image of progress. For Indians, Tom claims, progress is a cycle, yet Europeans saw this as weak and static existence.

Lake recognized the role education can play, but it is restricted by age in regards to how much you can say and how you say it. He highlights the central variables this thesis has articulated: miseducation, oversimplification, and policy.  Lake states  Western definitions of progress hinder Native American narratives from becoming more readily known. Furthermore, the disconnect between Euro-American spirituality and Indian sacred places makes it difficult to preserve and educate others of places of cultural importance to Native communities in the United States. He presents the issue of biased public images of American Indians in the U.S. which perpetuate inaccurate and derogatory stereotypes.   However, Lake does offer times of success and the use of creativity in offering authentic information on American Indian presence and influence in the Adirondacks. One example is trying to show students what cultural landscapes mean by taking them to a site and encouraging them to use all of their senses instead of solely vision.

(6) John Fadden

            While the knowledge and experience of the scholars discusses above offer thoughtful reflections and keen interest in increasing Native American heritage in the Adirondacks, at the end of the day, the feedback and opinions of Native voices is required to change the cultural dominance continuum. While this thesis has focused on Euro-American miseducation and bias, its root cause continues to be White control on the narrative, which thus requires non-White narratives in their place.

            The first person I spoke with was John Fadden, who is both Mohawk and Scottish in descent. His father, Ray Fadden, started the Six Nations Museum back in 1954, becoming one of the first public institutions in the Adirondack Park to offer a site of solely American Indian history and heritage. I had been wanting to see the museum often discussed in Curt Stager’s work as well as mentioned to me by some locals, and I wanted to meet John as well. The museum is built to resemble a long house, as the Six Nations traditionally lived in longhouses (Haudenosaunee meaning people of the longhouse).  Considering its less central location, John says the museum still reaches over 1,000 visitors during its summer season. I ask if John has seen the exhibit, “Peopled Wilderness,” at the Adirondack Museum, and his said he has not but some of his and his son’s artwork is included in the exhibit.

            As we discussed the entities in his museum, John pointed to several artifacts which had been given or sold to him which offer considerable evidence of Indians living in the Adirondacks. Pottery shards and flint flakes, John showed me one case, were found by Chateauguay Lake (see Figure 2.10). A flint knife was discovered in the town of Saranac. As he took me around the museum, showing me various archeological remains found in the Silver Lake area, True Brook in the town of Saranac, Bartlett’s Carry between Tupper and Saranac Lake, at the base of St. Regis Mountain, Lake Placid, and Chateauguay Lake, it seemed only a blind man would decipher this information as invaluable evidence of Indians. One larger artifact is a dug out canoe that was discovered in the Lake Placid region and has been dated to be from the late 1600s or early 1700s (see Figure 2.11). On one of the walls, there was an illustrated map locating Indian influence across North America, highlighting foods and traditions which came from American Indians and were adopted and still are a part of Euro-American culture.  Having a map like this in classrooms would be interesting in educating students of some of the less told origins of American cultural identity.



[1] Henry Hudson was an English explorer and navigator who traveled to America with the Dutch. The Hudson River bears his name.


Fig 2.9

Fig 2.10

With this in mind, I asked John how he thinks the public can be better educated on Indian heritage in the Adirondacks, and more widely as well. He tells me he worked with a few others in creating a curriculum guide to be adopted by the New York Department of Education in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, John states, “We ran into a lot of trouble with academics, it destroyed the effort, and it never got published” (C.2.6.26-27). With over 600 pages of written work, the main issue John explained they had with the curriculum guide was that they attributed Iroquois influence to the the forming of the U.S. Constitution, which today is more widely known, but even 30 years ago, it was still a less told piece of history. Even acknowledging influence was seen as too problematic to White academics who were peer-receiving the text.  John said, “It was one of my biggest disappointments…it was going to be in every classroom in New York…overtime it could have had tremendous influence” (C.2.6.29-31). What could have been an incredibly useful and transformative addition to New York education, was dismantled because they could not come to terms with Indian heritage within American heritage.

This is something that has been seen before in the Adirondacks as well. If it came before Euro-Americans, it can be easier to accept, but once it becomes evident that American identity is nothing but a mixture and appropriation of many different cultures, people look the other way instead of celebrating the authentic narrative before them. I also told John of the trend I noticed among Santanoni interviewees in feeling connected to the landscape, but seemingly ignoring they were not the first by any means to feel such a association in the Adirondacks. However, we both concluded by the end of our conversation, education can be a powerful if not the most powerful tool in better representing and preserving Indian histories and their place in larger American heritage narratives.

(7) Chief Don Stevens

            For the reason the origin of the name Santanoni was one of the first indicators I discovered in researching Indian heritage in the Adirondacks, I felt it would be helpful to discuss Abenaki presence with living Abenaki individuals of the Algonquin Nation. I discovered the Nulhegan Abenaki Nation holds a public heritage event annually. I contacted the Chief in charge to see if I could ask him a few questions regarding the celebration as well as his knowledge of Abenaki presence in the Adirondacks.  Don was generous enough to spend some time during the festival to offer his opinions and knowledge of Abenaki presence along the New York border as well as in the Adirondack region.

            The Nulhegan Abenaki Heritage Festival occurred on the weekend of September 2nd and 3rd   in Northern Vermont.[1] I was able to watch and hear traditional drum circles perform prayers to their God(s). The participants were sucking on a root plant which soothes their throats as they sung their prayers, and they asked in me and my friend if we wanted to try the root. While bitter in taste, it really did coat one’s throat in a calming way. People were warm and welcoming to us as Whites and the event allowed me to see one way an Indian community in the Northeast preserves their cultural heritage today. A few people spoke with us told us they were glad we enjoyed the festival. When Chief Stevens was not busy, he sat down with me to answer a few questions. Due to the music and drums and people, we decided to just converse and I take notes based on our discussion.



[1] Held at a Boy Scout Campground and Recreation Center, the use of Native American imagery in building where the celebration was held on the day I attended, the 3rd, caught my eye and the  

irony was fascinating considering my literature research



    Fig 2.11

   Fig 2.12   

We asked him how he prefers to have his community referred to, and he told me, like I have encountered before, that Indian is the legal term most used and thus the choice name for him as well. He states, “If you want to be more PC [Politically Correct] about it, you can say Native American, but what does that even mean? We’re native to the ‘Americas’?” (C.2.7.11-12). Since American Indians never called their homeland America, Don suggests the term Native Americans can be in actuality, seen as disagreeable to some.

Don offers some much needed insight into Indian ways of understanding conflict and relationship between the so-called enemy tribes of the Iroquois and Algonquians. His explanation of respected boundaries between nations, in the fact that the Abenaki may have been allowed to come onto Mohawk land could have created some discrepancy in the name Santanoni. As I told him the theory of the name being an Abenaki pronunciation, he says it is possible, but the Mohawk could have had their own name for the mountain which could have also been used in created the name on Euro-American maps. Furthermore, in explaining common claims of climate challenges is dismissing not only Iroquois, but Abenaki presence in and around the Adirondack region, Don says, “We lived all over” (C.2.7.21). Families or clans would spread out and live lifestyles of mobility Euro-Americans may have not, but that does not mean they were not settled or had a connection to the landscape. He goes on to state that people in Vermont as in the Adirondacks would have built homes in protected areas, as in sites with good tree coverage, including the large pine trees, of which the Adirondacks has bountiful amounts of. Moreover, Chief Stevens explains that today Native ancestry does not have to mean you can be traced to the same tribe from centuries ago: “It’s more than just your DNA, it's your community…” (C.2.7.27).  The appreciation and respect in welcoming and preserving Indian cultures and their living members becomes more important than family blood. It is a bond connected to landscape, tradition, and community.

(8) Kay Ionataiewas Olan

            Kay Olan, Mohawk Wolf Clan, was referred to me by John Fadden.  She is an Iroquois story-teller and educator. We talked on the phone of her work, her ideas on the public perception of Native American history in Upstate New York, and the need for refining education curricula. Years ago, Kay was also hired by Clinton County Historical Association to photograph and document artifacts found in the Champlain Valley, at the foothills of the Adirondacks. While working on this, Kay interviewed New York and Vermont archeologists and she learned about dismissal of Native presence in Vermont. Kay said that many people in Vermont believed for a prolonged amount of time that the state Native did not live there. Archeological evidence was later found which did eventually prove that there was considerable long term Native occupancy in Vermont. Similarly, there are many people who did not believe Native people lived in the Adirondacks.  That may be because there was much less archeological research done in the region. There is a reluctance to acknowledge use of a certain land base because there may be a fear that Native peoples would go to court and non-Native peoples would lose their home. In actuality, that rarely if ever.

Western perspective on land were discussed in expanding recognition of Native presence in the Adirondacks. Furthermore, we talked western perspectives on permanent habitation. Kay  asks, “What is permanent? Some Europeans may have lived in the same dwelling all year round” (C.2.8.21). However, many Native people had more than one home: “Some would move one locale to the other based on the season and the availability of food” (C.2.8.23).  Eventually they might return to certain areas when the land and resources had a chance to recoup. The Algonquians moved more seasonally, while Iroquois would tend to maintain a village until the resources and game would be lessened. This kinds of lifestyles were based on the cycles the natural world. For example, a clan may live 15 years in one place, and then 15 years in another and might return to these sites after a period of time. There are archeological artifacts that show Native Americans were using the Adirondacks, yet to be determined of what extent of the habitation. Kay states we must study, “ways of life in cultural and environmental contexts” (C.2.8.27). Native peoples used the land differently than Europeans and did not have this concept of land ownership. They looked at land as their mother, which provided for them and the plants and animals. Kay explains Native Americans have a responsibility to only take what they need and leave the rest for future generations.

            In Kay’s own experiences as an elementary school teacher in New York State and now as a retired educator who continues to present and educate audiences on Iroquois culture, she sees that people are interested and want to learn more about the Native peoples of the Northeast. Many people have little knowledge of the Native peoples of their locale and have been taught inaccurate and stereotypical information. However, more and more are becoming interested in being exposed to more accurate information. Kay wants people to know that there are many Native Americans who live East of the Mississippi. Native people are doctors, lawyers, secretaries, nurses, professors, teachers; they play many important roles in our communities. Some live on reservations, some do not. Most live in houses like the rest of U.S. society. They are real people with lives, responsibilities, goals, and unique cultural traditions.

(9) Roy Hurd  

            Roy Hurd was also referred to me by John Fadden, and is Native descent, of which he is very proud. His ancestry is thus of Indian but also French origins. As we talked on the phone, Roy stated that he learned much of Iroquois culture by John and his father Ray, who actually was his science teacher as a child.  He lives in Redford, New York which is just North of Lake Placid. Roy writes songs of Indian culture and traditions and explains to me that, “All life is sacred, the elements have their own songs” (C.2.9.9). Roy states that there is an important balance with the natural world Native Americans respect and recognize.

            Roy tells me when the American Indian Movement (AIM) was in its hey day, he did partake in some of the protests, but that it became too radical for him and decided to go back to his roots. Roy has been going to local elementary classrooms for years in educating students about the Iroquois in Upstate New York. To him, he sees it as a chance to plant the seed at a young age for students to understand and recognize American Indians in the larger American history narrative. I asked him if he thinks older students, who can hear and understand more thorough and honest information, would be even more effective to work with, Roy stated, “4th graders are the way all humans are meant to be” (C.2.9.11) In this, Roy explained that younger students’ hearts are still open and communicating with them is often more enjoyable and welcomed.

Roy has performed concerts for schools as well as perform sets of songs for school classes over the years. He says he will continue to do such initiatives and teach the children how to pray to the earth and respect the world around them. He credits the Faddens as teaching him much of what he knows of his Native ancestry. Roy desires to break down stereotypes, saying that when he was younger Ray told him the phrase, “An only good Indian is a dead Indian” (C.2.9.13) was commonly something he heard. However, Roy states times are changing and that educating the next generation is always an effective way to continue this progress forward.


5.2 Analysis of Ethnographic Data

            In reflecting upon the following research question, ‘how do we expand and educate the public of accurate Native American heritage in the Adirondacks’, the individuals I spoke with often offered the platform of education. As seen in the heritage tourism interviews, school education policy in New York often was the way some recalled Native American heritage in the Upstate New York and even Adirondack region. However, it was generally articulated as something based in working with younger students, specifically at an elementary school level.  Engagement with the older students was often regarded as inconsequential, moreover, it seemed as if high school age participants would be close-minded in regards to Native American speakers.  While this could be true, younger audiences can only can hear and understand simplified versions of history. Versions of history while often exclude the harsh realities of colonialism, violence, and ethnic cleansing.

            While listening to the individuals above and their experience, it seems time we stop oversimplifying history if we seek real impact on heritage representation in the United States. If both tangible data like archeology and more intangible but equally vital data like sacred spaces, traditions, and language were taught within high school history classes, students would begin to recognize American Indian histories within the narrative and not outside of it. Why can we not consider the possibilities of a more holistic picture of American culture? The goal here is to make sure we do not continue this notion of otherness when educating people of Native American heritage. It is time educators consider the fact that everywhere in New York there were Indians and they left their mark, including many who currently reside in the state.

            While education is clearly an important method of shaping the next generation and how they will translate the importance of Native Americans in the region, there are even larger platforms which could be utilized to challenge the cultural dominance continuum. The relationship between recognizing cultural landscapes of American Indian communities and their lack of visibility in historical narratives and land management, is an issue which must be addressed at a policy level. As discussed in the Literature Review, heritage preservation often separates nature from cultural heritage, allowing the continued dismissal of Indian claims to landscapes like the Adirondacks, which to the Euro-American eye, were forever wild before White Man’s arrival. Government policy which requires historic preservation, environmental management, and academia to analyze and consult land not just for graves and stolen artifacts, but in its role of cultural identity, could protect and educate the United States of much more detailed narratives. This then could create a public perception which is based on equality in facts and a sense of cultural understanding that goes beyond Western America.


   Chapter Six


The Adirondack Park has been a challenging region to study in regards to Native American heritage. Long-standing attitudes, stereotypes, and institutions appear in the story of the Adirondacks, with a strong Western hold on how the past is told. New York State prides itself in historical preservation awareness as well as agreeable relations with Native communities in the state. Yet the Adirondacks is almost always kept separate from these initiatives, remaining a place of environment and Euro-American relations to it. Changing the way we think about cultural heritage and cultural identity is something that must be explained to students, the general public, and U.S. government increasingly if real change is desired.

 The Adirondacks is an important place of history, landscape, and preservation, yet it is presented as this way only for White Americans. When one explores the region, with its majestic mountains, hallowing loons, deep blue lakes, and thick forest terrains, it becomes impossible to believe this land was not cherished and utilized until a few hundred years ago, even less for the American culture. This thesis asks, can we as a nation, continue to ignore a culture in our shared landscape? Do we truly wish to live in a country where we deny thousands of years of history in fear of expanding the American heritage narrative? It is time historic preservationists realize their role in social justice is integral. This is not to make equal heritage representation seem a moral crusade; it is a necessary cause. In a country with so much convoluted racial history, Americans today often do not understand why we cannot move forward. It is because we still tell the past like a story only Whites own, which is as far from the truth as the idea that colonialism is dead.

Through the fieldwork and literature, it became clear that these assumptions of the past play a large role in the self-proclaimed sense of ownership that western civilization feels towards Adirondack heritage.  While it is no longer impossible to find tangible evidence of presence of American Indians in the Adirondack Park, Euro-American ownership of the narrative dismisses non-White connection to the landscape, preventing their recognition in education and preservation policy. The goal of this thesis was to analyze the larger trends responsible for this misrepresentation.  Through detailed research and qualitative fieldwork, it became clear that there are a host of variables in the overarching problem of Western dominated cultural representation in the Adirondacks.  In formulating a cycle of influential factors in a cultural dominance continuum, the data presented a set of patterns relative not only to the Adirondacks but seen in the United States as a whole.

The continuum highlights six main themes which appear in the literature, primary sources, and fieldwork in establishing Euro-American (Western) dominance in cultural heritage narratives in the United States, specifically in muting Native American communities. There is no one starting point as it is a cycle, but one may regard stage one as Minimal Research, moving to consequential Miseducation, causing misinformed Stereotyping, leading to cultural Oversimplification, creating Appropriation of Indian ideas and traditions, resulting in a disconnect in authenticity and importance in Policy needed to preserve Native American Heritage. The continuum has proven to repeat in such a sequence as seen in the thesis’s case study.

The continuum starts and stops with education on authentic American Indians, not the stereotypes based in casual appropriation. Yet the path to better education does not rely only on academics but on government policy as well. Recognizing what identity means and its role in human rights becomes a much more complicated interpretation of North American landscapes. It forces a traditionally White controlled America to face its past of violence, conquering, and cultural genocide. Yet if we continue to tell a story of only Euro-Americans, we allow the shame of colonialism to dominate present day dialogues in heritage representation. Swallowing colonial guilt, Western allusions of supremacy, and considering alternate definitions of progress, opens up opportunity for a more united country where people know their home’s past and how it affects today.

In reflecting on the role this thesis can have in changing the narrative, in The SAGE Handbook (2005), scholars Gloria Ladson-Billings and Jamel Donnor argue academics need to start answering the call to take research beyond its comfortable habitat of professors and classrooms, bringing hard data to the real world where it is needed most. They write, “We must learn to be ‘at home’ on the street corners and in the barrios, churches, mosques, kitchens, porches, and stoops of peoples and communities, so that our work more accurately reflects their concerns and interests” (Denzin & Lincoln 2005, 299). Inopportunely, it is common for academics of high ranking to rarely leave the university to apply their critical data. This thesis’s research, the questions asked, and the solutions proposed, are always linked back to their application in real life situations. This thesis sought to steer clear of this pattern and produce valuable ideas and evidence for real change, big or small.

Nevertheless, these controls on heritage, reflected in the Case Study, show us that dominance is often ingrained in ways we do not notice. Some scholars have become too comfortable in writing off Native American history because they think their status in historical writing will not be questioned. New York elementary school education has minimal requirements in discussing Iroquois and Algonquian history yet the information gathered is simplified and mystified for younger audiences, in which they do not learn the darker truth to the story. Appropriation and stereotyping continue to occur in shaping American cultural identity, teaching kids and adults alike that Indians are dead and unimportant to the United States today.

My own conclusion is that social studies curriculum reform is needed to shift the cultural dominance continuum. This must be at a State level but also could reach federal reform as well. Alongside education, historic preservation must consider it is Western-minded in its heritage management policies. This presents to the public that history is in built environment and artifacts but not in non-Western cultural landscapes. This makes places like the Adirondacks seem vacant of non-White heritage because of how we recognize the term. These two facets of Euro-American dominance work together to create lasting miseducation, which makes oversimplifying American Indians too easy to do, making the cultural dominance continuum complete.

If one student can identify the patterns controlling the narrative so can professional policy makers and education providers.  Some academics have begun using archeology and natural science to convince the public of a Native America in the Adirondacks. Indian curators, performers, and educators reach out to those interested in sharing their culture and presence. Yet for those at the top, making the decisions, is must become a priority to consider the power of the past on the present. It is not enough to make a day, week, or even month for non-White heritage, it is time we place all histories as equal in the minds of American citizens. These old American claims of freedom, equality, and opportunity will continue to be myths unless the past is recognized and challenged in the present.





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Interview with the League of Extraordinary Adirondack Gentlemen

(24) Rick Davidson, (25) Tom Bessete, (26) Daniel Way, (27) Bill McKibben (28) Richard P. Mills (with Peter Hornbeck and Mike Prescott)

 Lia: How far did you travel to come to Santanoni?


Rick: 30 miles

Tom:50 miles

Daniel: 50 miles

Bill:140 miles

Richard:100, 60 miles

What drew you to come today?

All: We call ourselves the League of Extraordinary Adirondack Gentlemen. We having ben on paddling/canoe trip and have been camping at Fish Rock lean-to on the Santanoni Preserve. Wanted to come see the Great Camp too. Wanted to learn about the history of the place.

Lia: Yes Mike Prescott told me your name! I like it. And may I ask what are your professions?

Rick: Restaurant Owner

Tom: College Teacher of Computer Science

Daniel: Doctor

Bill: Writer and Professor at Middlebury College

Richard: Retired NY Commissioner of Education

Lia: What is your age range?

Rick: I’m 56

Tom: 59

Daniel: 65

Bill: 72

Richard: 56

Lia: Adirondack Architectural Heritage, who manages Santanoni, believes it presents a balance of nature and culture at its camp and preserve. Do you feel you experienced this balance? If yes, how and why? If no, how and why?

Bill: I definitely associate this site with its unique Japanese heritage, the cedars and mist on Newcomb Lake really have the look of a Zen Buddhist garden so I say yes, absolutely a mix!

Rick: Yes, because it is has been left, and I there is a sense of coming back to nature.


Richard: It truly blends the outdoors and indoors seamlessly, which is very different than Durant great camps.

Lia: Ok, and I was wondering are any or all of you familiar with the phrase of Adirondack environmentalism, Forever Wild? If yes how do you feel about it and what it means?

Bill: I feel anxious, because I fear that it is under threat. It is becoming harder and harder to maintain the idea that any place in this world is wild,” makes it “all more precious”

Tom: We know places you can get far away from a road…a more than a day’s walk from a place you can park a car and development will ruin all of that.

Peter: It is amazing that such legislation could be passed, and I say it is good for business.

Mike: Peter makes light weight canoes people all across the Adirondacks use and love.

Lia: next question…Do you know any Native American history in the Adirondack region?  If yes, how did you access this information?

Bill: I known the idea of bark eater because I stayed in a place called Bark Eater, but the Native American History is under developed here. People have subscribed to this myth that there weren’t really Native Americans here in the Central Adirondacks but there are many living links to that history

Daniel: I know of the guide Mitchell Sabattis, which is the origin of the name of the town of Sabeil, something a patient told me about, there is this wonderful publication called “Into the Woods.” It’s a 1859 guide book. The author lived with Sabattis, and the guide talked of Mohawk language and its importance in the region.

Rick: I have read historical fiction books by authors Walter Edmonds & Kenneth Roberts. They did research when verbal stories still existed and wrote Revolutionary War historical fiction. The books talk of Indian divisions during war.

Richard: When I was Commissioner of Education we had various meetings with the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. They would have certain traditions before we would start our meetings. I always noticed the women were the leaders. There would be long prayers in their language.


Mike: The totem pole on display at the Adirondack Museum is part of the miseducation. You really got to look for the label that it is not of tribes here, but was commissioned to be made by a Native person living in the Park. I complained to the curator that a casual observer is not going to notice this discrepancy. I feel like the exhibit is something one passes through, an after thought

But I suppose anything is great yet I do know for some time Natives were not sure they wanted it.

Lia: Does anyone know the origin of the name Santanoni?

All: No (I explained in the tour earlier as Bill had asked)

Lia: Okay last question, do you feel cultural identity is something connected to landscape? And if yes, is this a connection more part of the past/history or more part of present day? This can refer to the Adirondacks or where you are from…

Daniel: I worked in Adirondack for many years so I feel like an Adirondacker. Once you get up either go away or become an Adirondacker. I am grounded by being in the Adirondacks.

Rick: I can’t move because it will mean the Adirondacks is not close by. I live outside Albany so its just under 2 hours away. I have been camping in the Park since the 1970s. It is the Adirondacks that created my love of the outdoors and wilderness.

Bill: I mean look at Pete, he has built the biggest boat business perfect for the Adirondacks, it’s not established, it’s a living tradition that continues to grow.

Richard: I have always loved being outside. When I was a child, my mother would reead me the Mother West Wind Fables and I became convinced that animals could talk. I was go outside everyday and just listen. I was bribed with baked potato to come inside every night. I have to be out here!

Lia: Thank you all so much, it was pleasure to talk with you!

All: Thank you!