WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Students from the
Akwesasne Freedom School will travel to Washington to receive a
regional award for the Presidents Environmental Youth Awards
The students include Ranakarakete McDonald,
Teiohonssiakwente Skidders, Teioswathe Cook, Kanaratahawe Jackson,
Tekawitha Lazore, Kawennahente Cook, Kawennakwas Mitchell, Karonhiota
Skidders, Aronhiaies Herne, Iohowaawi Fox and Westine Herne. The
students studied the importance of wetlands with their teacher Elizabeth
Perkins while in grades six through eight at the year-round Mohawk
language immersion school. The school curriculum is based on the
traditional teachings of the Haudenosaunee people, which include
respect for people, community and all of creation.
In 1999, students, their families and
teachers worked in collaboration with the Akwesasne Task Force on
the Environment, a community based not-for-profit organization,
to restore a 50-acre degraded wetland on the schools property.
Patrick Sullivan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National
Resource Conservation Service helped through an USDA Wetland Reserve
A focal point of the project was the reconstruction
of a small island in the wetland in the shape of a turtle. The turtle
is one of the three major clans of the Mohawk Nation and has a central
role in Mohawk creation beliefs, where it is seen as providing support
to the rest of nature. Deer and mallard ducks have already begun
to return to the natural habitat of the restored wetland.