Though ANIMALS 24-7 friend Ray Fadden died nearly 15 years ago, we often remember him.
This is his story.
Ray Fadden-Tehanetorens, 98, died on November 14, 2008 at the Iakhihsotha nursing home in Akwesasne, the Mohawk nation located on either side of the U.S. and Canadian border near Massena, New York, and St. Regis, Ontario.
Born in a farmhouse five miles east of Onchiota, New York, Fadden met his wife Christine Chubb while teaching elementary school at the Tuscarora Reservation, near Niagara Falls. Married in 1935, they remained together for 73 years.
Christine Chubb died at the Iakhihsotha nursing home on April 16, 2014,
Around the same time that Fadden met her, he also met and began helping Clinton Rickard, founder of the Indian Defense League of America.
Moving to the St. Regis Mohawk School in Hogansburg, New York, Fadden taught science to generations of young Mohawks by emphasizing outdoor nature study.
“Only feeding the birds at 200 places instead of 300”
Not harming or disturbing animals was central to his teaching.
“He loved animals and passed that tradition on to my sons, myself, and many, many others. He also was a strong advocate for First Nations People, and we continue to carry on his work at the museum he created,” emailed his son, artist John Fadden-Kahiones.
At 90, recalled songwriter Roy Hurd, Fadden admitted, “I’m slowing down. I’m only feeding the birds at 200 places in the woods instead of 300.”
Recalled Plattsburgh Press Republican staff writer Robin Caudell, “In the early 1940s, Fadden created the Akwesasne Mohawk Counselor Organization, designed to educate Mohawk children about Native history, woodcraft, and Mohawk tradition, and to develop a positive self-image. As appropriate educational materials were not available, Fadden published 27 relevant pamphlets and 40 charts himself, many of them still in print in editions produced by other publishers.”
Fadden founded the Six Nations Indian Museum near Onchiota in 1954.
Fadden taught seventh grade science at Saranac Central School from 1957 to 1967, operating the museum each summer, then retired to focus on teaching museum visitors.
Wrote Doug George-Kanentiio, “Without Tehanetorens there would not have been a White Roots of Peace, an Akwesasne Notes, CKON Radio, Indian Time, Freedom School, or Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs. There would be no land claims. The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne would still be the St. Regis Band Council.
“Akwesasne as a place of power would not be. We would still be calling ourselves the St. Regis Indians. The new scholarship which is finally seeing us as we were, and are, would not have taken root. He inspired students from everywhere. ”
But a fiercely expressed central part of his message was less amplified.
“Folks out there didn’t really hear the animal part”
“Folks out there always heard his message about First Nations people,” affirmed John Fadden, “but didn’t really hear the animal part. He undeniably was an advocate for animals, trees, waters, sky, clouds, rocks––all of it. Animals and birds were his first love since he was a child.
“He learned that traditionally among most Native Nations there was a respect for nature, i.e., birds, plants, four-leggeds, etc., and that’s what directed him toward that history and culture.”
Fadden taught that harming animals in any way for fun or profit is profane. Mohawk participation in commercial fur trapping was the sin that destroyed the Six Nations, along with their wildlife family, Fadden believed.
A lifelong opponent of sport hunting and trapping, who for decades fed bears at remote locations to keep them from being shot for seeking food in proximity to humans, Fadden emphasized that it is today moral opposition to sport and commercial hunting, trapping, whaling, and sealing––often rationalized by association with traditional Native American practice––that most honors Native American religious belief.