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Ray Fadden
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Obituary for Ray Tehanetorens Fadden

Ray Tehanetorens  Fadden
Ray Tehanetorens Fadden was born on August 23, 1910 in his grandparent’s farmhouse. Henry & Emma (Gibson) Fadden’s farm was located five miles east of the hamlet of Onchiota in the northeastern Adirondack Mountains. Ray’s childhood was spent in places throughout eastern New York State including Onchiota, Norwich, Ilion, Albany, and Long Island to name a few. His schooling was as varied, and included an informal education about the flora & fauna of the Adirondacks during long summer days in the Adirondacks with his grandfather.
When Ray was older he traveled to various Native communities throughout the state and made friends with elders of those communities. He also visited many northeastern museums to view collections and displays of Native culture. In his travels he met Arthur C. Parker, a noted authority on the Iroquois. Ray struck up an enduring friendship with Parker that was to last until Parker’s passing in the late 1950s. Ray also learned a great deal about the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) from Jesse Lyons of Onondaga. George Nash, an elder of the Tuscarora Nation, was also a source of much information to the young Ray Fadden.
Ray attended Fredonia Normal School graduating in 1934 with a degree in teaching. His first teaching experience was at the elementary school on the Tuscarora Reservation, near Niagara Falls. During this time he met, Christine Chubb, a young woman from Akwesasne who with her family were living in Niagara Falls. Ray and Christine were married during October of 1935.
While at Tuscarora Ray became friends with Clinton Rickard, founder of the Indian Defense League of America. Ray worked with Rickard and with David Hill, a Mohawk from Ohsweken, on the various projects of the League. The primary focus of the organization was to remind the United States and Canada of border crossing rights. These rights were guaranteed to the Iroquois by stipulations in the Jay Treaty and other honorable agreements.
Ultimately, Ray got a teaching position at the St. Regis Mohawk School in Hogansburg. This school served the Mohawk community on the New York side of the international border at Akwesasne. During late December in 1938 Christine gave birth to their only child, John.
Beyond Ray’s classroom experience at Akwesasne, he achieved a number of other accomplishments. In the early 1940s he created a youth group called the Akwesasne Mohawk Counselor Organization. The goal of this organization was to educate Mohawk children in respect to Native history, woodcraft technologies, Mohawk traditions, and in the process to develop a positive self-image. Ray took the club members to locations throughout the northeast to view sites that were historically significant in Iroquois and American history. In the course of extended weekends and vacations, members of the group camped out in the Adirondack. They canoed, hiked and prepared meals over an open fire.
During the early 1940s Ray began publishing a series of educational pamphlets and charts. The subject matter included collections of Iroquois legends, histories of various Iroquois groups and individuals, plus other facets of Native American history. The charts included maps, diagrams illustrating the various reservations throughout the Northeast, and facets of history. One chart that illustrated Native American contributions to contemporary civilization was of particular interest to him. It went beyond the stereotypes of teepees and canoes and spoke of the many food plants, medicines, and innovations produced by Native American culture. Ray felt that all school children should be made aware of these contributions. A total of 27 pamphlets and approximately 40 charts were published. In the 1990s the Book Publishing Company of Summertown, Tennessee issued three compilations of his work: Legends of the Iroquois, Wampum Belts of the Iroquois, and Roots of the Iroquois.
During the first half of the 1950s Ray began the process of creating the Six Nations Indian Museum. The museum is located about sixty-five miles from Akwesasne, and four miles from the place of his birth. The Museum opened for its first summer season during late June in 1954.
Ray left the St. Regis Mohawk School in 1957, and began teaching 7th grade science at the Saranac Central Jr. High School in the fall of that same year. He taught at Saranac for a decade, retiring in 1967.
In his retirement years Ray continued working at the Museum that he created. He was always available to tell an Iroquois legend or speak about the Iroquois government. He would point out that today’s civilization, particularly in the line of food plants, owes much to the contributions of Native America. Ray has always had a deep fondness for birds and animals. During his retirement he was able to devote more time to preparing and maintaining feeding stations for them. Over the years ravens, blue jays, nuthatches, and chickadees, to name a few, have gathered sustenance at Ray’s several hundred sun flower seed distribution sites. Occasional raccoons, coyotes, fishers, and other animals have fed on strategically located feeding sites that Ray has structured as well. For a period of time Ray provide scrap meat, suet and bones to the neighborhood bears, and at one point there were nineteen of them partaking of the offerings. He loved animals, the environment (especially the Adirondacks), the trees, waters…all of it.
On December 11, 2003, Ray became a resident at Iakhihsohtha, a nursing home at Akwesasne, where he died on Friday, November 14, 2008.
He is survived by his wife, Christine; his son and daughter-in-law, John and Eva Fadden, Onchiota; 3 grandchildren, Donald Fadden, Onchiota; David Fadden, Akwesasne and Onchiota; and Daniel Fadden, Lake Clear, NY; 4 great grandchildren, Ian John, Evan, Hailey, and Wisha;
a brother and sister-in-law, Carroll, Jr. and Gloria Fadden, Onchiota; and many nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by 4 sisters, Jean Tanski, Ruth Field, Helen Bashe, and June Cooper, and a brother, Robert Fadden.
A traditional longhouse funeral service was held Saturday at the Donaldson Funeral Home, Massena. His body was cremated following the services.
Memorial Contributions may be made to the Tri-Lakes Humane Society 255 George Lapan Memorial Highway, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.

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