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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Donates $100k To Akwesasne Freedom School
by Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Chief Eric Thompson and Chief Beverly Cook were proud to present the Tribe's annual contribution of $100k to the Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS) on Ohiarihkó:wa/July 8, 2016. Receiving the check on behalf of AFS was Friends of the Akwesasne Freedom School Manager Elvera Sargent, a non-profit organization that helps support the school.
Akwesasne, NY — On Ohiarihkó:wa/July 8, 2016, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council presented the Tribe's annual contribution in the amount of $100,000 to the Akwesasne Freedom School. The amount is dispersed in two payments of $50,000 during the year to support the school's Mohawk language immersion instruction. "The preservation and strengthening of the Mohawk language, culture and traditions are important to our community because of the values it provides and instills in our youth who are the foundation of our future," said Tribal Chief Eric Thompson. "The Freedom School continues to be an integral part of what makes Akwesasne distinct and unique, as a community and as a people."

The Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS) is a full Mohawk language immersion school that offers year-round instruction for grades pre-k to grade nine. It was founded in 1979 at Racquette Point by Mohawk parents who expressed concerns with local public schools, at that time, lacking cultural and linguistic services. As a result, the school offers a culturally based curriculum to ensure Mohawk people do not lose their identify through the loss of their language.

"We are pleased to continue the Tribe's support of the Akwesasne Freedom School and all it has accomplished through the years," stated Tribal Chief Beverly Cook, who accompanied Chief Thompson in presenting the donation to Friends of the Akwesasne Freedom School Manager Elvera Sargent, a non-profit organization that helps support the school. Chief Cook noted, "We realize the school's importance and appreciate the amount of time and effort that families put into operating and raising funds for the school."

The Akwesasne Freedom School is dedicated to preserving the Mohawk language, continuing Mohawk traditional cultural practices, promoting the principles of Kaníkonri:io (good mind), Skén:nen (peace) and Ka'shatsténhshera (strength). It helps prepare students to be active participants in both our traditional community and contemporary society by encouraging students to have pride in Rotinonhsón:ni customs and values.

"The Freedom School plays a critical role in ensuring that our Mohawk students have a solid foundation and identify," said Tribal Chief Ron Lafrance Jr. He added, "My father would be very proud knowing that the school he helped form in 1979 is continuing to do their utmost in helping to keep our Mohawk language alive and our culture practices strong."

Graduates of the Akwesasne Freedom School achieve what one 1970s Mohawk education leader termed a "200 percent education"—where they have a 100 percent Mohawk education and a 100 percent mainstream education.

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