St. Regis Mohawk Reservation

Coordinates: 44°58′26″N 74°39′49″W / 44.973972°N 74.663590°W

St-Regis Mohawk IR
Administration and community building of St. Regis Mohawk Reservation
St. Regis
St. Regis[1]

St. Regis Mohawk Reservation is a Mohawk Indian reservation in Franklin County, New York, United States. It is also known by its Mohawk name, Akwesasne. The population was 3,288 at the 2010 census.[2] The reservation is adjacent to the Akwesasne reserve in Ontario and Quebec. The Mohawk consider the entire community to be one unit, and have the right to travel freely across the international border. The reservation contains the community of St. Regis and borders the community of Hogansburg in the town of Bombay.[3] The Mohawk people dispute the Town of Bombay's claim to jurisdiction within the "Bombay Triangle" as these lands are part of the 1796 Treaty and have never been diminished by the US Congress.

Under the terms of the Jay Treaty (1794), the Mohawk people may pass freely across the Canada–United States border. The two parts of the reservation are separated by the St. Lawrence River and the 45th parallel.

The Mohawk are one of the original Five Nations of the Iroquois, historically based in present-day New York. They were located chiefly in the Mohawk Valley and were known as the "Keepers of the Eastern Door", prepared to defend the Iroquoian territory against other tribes located to the east of the Hudson River.

The St. Regis Reservation, and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal government, adopted gambling in the 1980s. It has generated deep controversy. Broadly speaking, the elected chiefs and the Mohawk Warrior Society have supported gambling, while some traditional leaders have opposed it. Today, the reservation is home to the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.

The elected tribal governments on the New York and Canadian sides and the traditional chiefs of Akwesasne often work together as a "Tri-Council" concerning areas of shared interest, for example to negotiate land claims settlements with their respective national government.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Mohawk people view the reservation as a sovereign nation. It shares jurisdiction with the state of New York and the United States.


The reservation is at the international border of Canada and the United States along the St. Lawrence River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the Indian reservation has a total area of 21.0 square miles (54.4 km2). 19.0 square miles (49.1 km2) of it is land, and 2.0 square miles (5.3 km2) of it (9.76%) is water.[2] It is bordered by the New York towns of Fort Covington (east), Bombay (south), Brasher (southwest), and Massena (west), and by the Akwesasne Indian Reserve to the north in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The nearest city is Cornwall, Ontario, which lies 6 miles (10 km) to the northwest, across the Akwesasne Reserve.


The original settlement was known as Akwesasne, called Saint Régis by French Jesuit missionaries, presumably after Jean François Régis, the martyred priest and canonized as a Catholic saint in 1737. It was founded about 1755 by several Catholic Iroquois families, primarily Mohawk, from the mission village of Caughnawaga, Quebec (now known as Kahnawake). They were seeking better lives for their families, as they were concerned about negative influences of traders at Caughnawaga, where some Mohawk became debilitated by alcohol. The Mohawk were accompanied by Jesuit missionaries from Caughnawaga.[4]

After the United States acquired this territory in settlement of its northern border, relations among the people and the varying jurisdictions became more complex. But by the 1795 Jay Treaty, the Mohawk retained the right to travel freely over the border. The Mohawk on both sides of the St. Lawrence River have lost land and been adversely affected by major infrastructure projects conducted by state and federal authorities; for instance, the St. Lawrence Seaway, what is now known as the Three Nations Crossing bridge, and dams on the rivers for power projects.

Since 1762, mills and dams were built by private, non-Native interests on the St. Regis River at what developed as the village of Hogansburg, now within the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. In 1929 Erie Boulevard Hydropower built an 11-foot-high dam at the site to generate hydroelectric power. It disrupted the annual salmon fish run from the St. Lawrence, depriving the citizens of the reservation of one of their staple foods, and adversely affecting the populations of salmon and other migratory fish. By 2010 the dam had been uneconomical and would have cost too much to upgrade, including providing for fish passage. The owner gave up their federal license.[5]

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal government applied to FERC take over and dismantle the dam, which they did in 2016. Based on restoration of fisheries after such dam removals in other locations across the country, they expect salmon and other migratory fish, such as walleye, to return to the region: 275 miles of the St. Regis River has been reopened to migratory fish that spend part of their lives in the Atlantic Ocean.[5]

In 2013 the tribe received a $19 million settlement from "GM, Alcoa, and Reynolds for pollution of tribal fishing and hunting grounds along the St. Lawrence River".[5] The companies have undertaken cleanup of the pollution. The tribe intends to use this money to redevelop the former dam site as "the focus of a cultural restoration program that will pair tribal elders with younger members of the tribe to restore the Mohawk language and pass on traditional practices such as fishing, hunting, basket weaving, horticulture and medicine, to name a few."[5]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20143,248[6]0.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]

As of the census[8] of 2000, there were 2,699 people, 904 households, and 668 families residing in the Indian reservation within the US boundary. The population density was 142.2/mi² (54.9/km²). There were 977 housing units at an average density of 51.5/mi² (19.9/km²). The racial makeup of the Indian reservation was 97.41% Native American, 2.07% White, 0.07% from other races, and 0.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.74% of the population.

There were 904 households out of which 44.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 23.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.0% were non-families. 22.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.97 and the average family size was 3.44.

In the Indian reservation, the population was spread out with 34.1% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 7.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.2 males.

The median income for a household in the Indian reservation was $32,664, and the median income for a family was $34,336. Males had a median income of $27,742 versus $21,774 for females. The per capita income for the Indian reservation was $12,017. About 19.4% of families and 22.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.3% of those under age 18 and 14.9% of those age 65 or over.


Drug and human smuggling

Because of the latitude of this area, rivers freeze in winter, providing shortcuts for the Mohawk crossing the international border. This situation also makes the border more porous for smugglers of many items, including liquor, cigarettes, drugs and people.[9] The New York Times covered this issue in February 2006 in an article headlined "Drug Traffickers Find Haven in Shadows of Indian Country".[10]

The Akwesasne police and government spokespersons have defended their work, saying they have had to take on an unfair federal burden of border enforcement while not receiving additional funding. Due to a quirk in the law, they were not eligible to receive grants from the Department of Homeland Security that were available to local jurisdictions. The chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk police noted that drug smuggling was a problem that extended along the Canadian-US border and was not limited to Akwesasne. In March 2006, the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation was awarded a $263,000 grant from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Legal Services, in order to "fight drug use, violent crime, and drug and human smuggling."[9]

Collection of state sales tax

New York state has threatened to collect sales tax from sales of gasoline and cigarettes on Native American reservations but has not done so. The legislature often passes such a resolution[11] but the federally recognized tribe says that it has sovereign authority on its reservation and does not need to collect the state tax. New York citizens fail to report their applicable use taxes; this has become a problem both here and at areas surrounding other Indian reservations across New York. Merchants near the reservations complain that the tax-free sales constitute an unfair advantage for Native American-owned businesses. People on the reservation tend to respond that this is the only advantage they have, after years of discrimination and being dispossessed of their land.[12]

While the government officials argue, a Zogby poll commissioned in 2006 by the Seneca Nation of New York, allies of the Mohawk, showed that 79% of New York residents did not think sales taxes should be collected from reservation sales.[13]

In popular culture

  • The reservation is the setting for the 2008 movie Frozen River. It depicts smuggling of illegal immigrants by Mohawk and associated Americans across the international border between Canada and the U.S. The film was shot in Plattsburgh, New York.
  • The reservation was the setting for a Tom Swift children's book series (1910–1941).

Patent income

In 2017, the tribe entered into an agreement with Allergan Plc, under which Allergen transferred intellectual property rights to the drug Restasis to the tribe in an attempt to shield those patent rights from legal challenges. Allergan will pay the tribe $13.75 million, plus $15 million a year in annual revenues.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Lossing, Benson (1868). The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812. Harper & Brothers, Publishers. p. 378.
  2. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001), St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, Franklin County, New York". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 2, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Coit Gilman, Daniel; Thurston Peck, Harry; Moore Colby, c. 1904., Frank. The New International Encyclopedia. 15. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d Karen Graham, "Hogansburg Hydroelectric Dam Taken Down by Native American Tribe", Digital Journal, 11 December 2016;accessed 20 January 2018
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Archived from the original on May 23, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  7. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Shannon Burns (March 17, 2006). "BIA grant to help Akwesasne combat border drug smuggling". Indian Country Today. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
  10. ^ Sarah Kershaw, "Drug Traffickers Find Haven in Shadows of Indian Country", New York Times, 19 February 2006; accessed 20 January 2018
  11. ^ "Publication 750: A Guide to Sales Tax in New York State" (PDF). New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
  12. ^ Graham, Mike (April 25, 2006). "New York Company States American Indians Supporting International Terrorists". American Chronicle.
  13. ^ Staba, David (March 21, 2006). "Analysis". Niagara Falls Reporter. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  14. ^ Koons, Cynthia. "Casinos Aren't Enough as Native Tribe Makes Deal on Drug Patents".

External links

Aboriginal title in New York

Aboriginal title in New York refers to treaties, purchases, laws and litigation associated with land titles of aboriginal peoples of New York, in particular, to dispossession of those lands by actions of European Americans. The European purchase of lands from indigenous populations dates back to the legendary Dutch purchase of Manhattan in 1626, "the most famous land transaction of all." More than any other state, New York disregarded the Confederation Congress Proclamation of 1783 and the follow-on Nonintercourse Acts, purchasing the majority of the state directly from the Iroquois nations without federal involvement or ratification.New York is the source of several landmark decisions concerning aboriginal title including Oneida I (1974), "first of the modern-day [Native American land] claim cases to be filed in federal court," and Oneida II (1985), "the first Indian land claim case won on the basis of the Nonintercourse Act." New York was the site of nearly all remaining Native American possessory land claims when the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Cayuga Indian Nation of N.Y. v. Pataki (2005) that the equitable doctrine of laches (duty of "timeliness") bars all tribal land claims sounding in ejectment or trespass, for both tribal plaintiffs and the federal government as plaintiff-intervenor. Since the ruling, no tribal plaintiff has overcome the laches defense in a land claim in the Second Circuit.There are currently 10 Indian reservations in New York: Allegany Indian Reservation, Cattaraugus Reservation, Oil Springs Reservation, Oneida Reservation, Onondaga Reservation, Poospatuck Reservation, St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, Shinnecock Reservation, Tonawanda Reservation, and Tuscarora Reservation.


The Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne ( as-wuh-SAS-nay French: Nation Mohawk à Akwesasne) (alternate spelling Ahkwesáhsne) is a Mohawk Nation (Kanien'kehá:ka) territory that straddles the intersection of international (United States and Canada) borders and provincial (Ontario and Quebec) boundaries on both banks of the St. Lawrence River. Most of the land and population are in what is otherwise the present-day United States. Although divided by an international border, the residents consider themselves to be one community. They maintain separate police forces due to jurisdictional issues and national laws.

The community was founded in the mid-18th century by Mohawk families from Kahnawake (also known as Caughnawaga), a Catholic Mohawk village that developed south of Montreal along the St. Lawrence River. Today Akwesasne has a total of 12,000 residents, with the largest population and land area of any Kanien'kehá:ka community. From its development in the mid-eighteenth century, Akwesasne was considered one of the Seven Nations of Canada. It is one of several Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk), meaning "people of the flint" in Mohawk, territories within present-day Canada; others are Kahnawake, Wahta, Tyendinaga, Kanesatake, and the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation (which includes several subdivisions of Mohawk, the other five nations of the Iroquois League, and some other Native American tribes), founded after the American Revolutionary War.

With settlement of the border between Canada and the United States in the early 19th century, a larger portion of the territory was defined as being within the United States. The portion in New York state is known as the federally recognized St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. The portion in Ontario is referred to as Akwesasne Reserve No. 59, and the portion in Quebec as Akwesasne Reserve.

The name Akwesasne in Mohawk means "Land Where the Partridge Drums", referring to the rich wildlife in the area.

Akwesasne 59

Akwesasne 59 is a First Nations reserve in Ontario. It is part of Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, which includes Akwesasne Indian Reserve in Quebec and St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in New York. As Akwesasne Mohawk Territory is independent of the federal and provincial governments, this division is largely for statistical purposes.

Chief Running Deer

Chief Running Deer may refer to:

Donald F. Malonson (1917 – 2003), Wampanoag tribe chief from Aquinnah, Massachusetts known as Chief Running Deer.

Frederick "Chief Running Deer" Sasakamoose (born 1933), the first Canadian indigenous player in the National Hockey League (NHL), playing in 1954.

Chief Running Deer (~1840s), war chief of the Cheyenne Indian tribe

Earl "Running Deer" Bass (1909-1996), Nansemond/Rappahannock chief

John Deer, known as Chief Running Deer, (born in 1834), on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in Canada was the last hereditary chief of the Mohawk tribe.

Chief Johnny Running Deer Bright, a historian and elder member of the Cherokee Nation

Colleen Shannon

Colleen Shannon (born April 14, 1978) is an American DJ, actress, and model known as Playboy magazine's Playmate of the Month for January 2004 and the magazine's 50th anniversary Playmate.

Ernest Benedict

Ernest M. Kaientaronkwen Benedict (July 14, 1918 – January 8, 2011) was an educator, activist and chief of the Mohawk Council.

Fort Covington, New York

Fort Covington is a town in Franklin County, New York. The population was 1,676 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from a War of 1812 fortification. The original name of the town was French Mills.

The town is on the county's northern border, which is also the Canada–United States border.

Hogansburg, New York

Hogansburg is a hamlet, in Franklin County, in the Town of Bombay in New York state, United States. It lies on NY 37 near the Canadian-US border at the confluence of the St. Regis River with the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Hogansburg borders the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.


Kanatsiohareke (Gah-nah-jo-ha-lay-gay) or Kana’tsóhare is a small Mohawk/Kanienkahaka community on the north bank of the Mohawk River, west of Fonda, New York. The name means "The clean pots" and is derived from Canajoharie or "Upper Castle", one of the two major towns of the Mohawk nation in 1738. Kanatsiohareke was created to be a "Carlisle Indian Boarding School in Reverse", teaching Mohawk language and culture. Located at the ancient homeland of the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk), it was re-established in September 1993 under the leadership of Thomas R. Porter (Sakokwenionkwas-"The One Who Wins"). The community must raise their own revenue and frequently hold cultural presentations, workshops, and academic events, including an annual Strawberry Festival. A craft shop on site features genuine handmade Native crafts from all over Turtle Island (North America).

The primary mission of the community is to try to preserve traditional values, culture, language and lifestyles in the guidance of the Kaienerekowa (Great Law of Peace). Kanatsiohareke, Inc. is a non-profit organization under IRS code 501c3.

Thomas Porter is a member of the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. (Akwesasne, also known as the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, straddles the Canada–US border near Massena, New York.) He is married to Alice Joe Porter who is Choctaw, and has six children.

Katsi Cook

Sherrill Elizabeth Tekatsitsiakawa “Katsi” (pronounced Gudji) Cook is a Mohawk Native American midwife, environmentalist, Native American rights activist, and women's health advocate. She is best known for her environmental justice and reproductive health research in her home community, the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne in upstate New York.She is the director of Running Strong for American Indian Youth and founder of the organization's Woman is the First Environment Collaborative which supports community-based health projects seeks that seek to empower Native women of all ages and increase knowledge concerning reproductive health. She has founded a number of organizations serving the Akwesasne community, including the Women's Dance Health Program, the Mother's Milk Monitoring Project, and the Konon:kwe Council.

Lou Bruce

Louis R. Bruce (1877–1968) was an American Major League Baseball outfielder. He played for the Philadelphia Athletics during the 1904 season.

The son of a Mohawk chief from the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in upstate New York, he attended Central High School in Philadelphia, where he excelled as a student while playing baseball. Discovered by Ed Barrow, he played for the minor league Toronto Maple Leafs from 1900 to 1903, where he was a two-way player, pitching and playing the outfield and finding success in both roles. He also attended the University of Pennsylvania Dental School during those days, and after retiring as a player, earned a degree in theology from Syracuse University.

He was one of the first Native Americans to reach the major leagues, following Chief Sockalexis, Bill Phyle, his teammate Chief Bender and Ed Pinnance.He was a practicing minister for many years and a promoter of education and citizenship for Native Americans. His son, Louis R. Bruce, was a politician who served as Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Mary Leaf

Mary Leaf (1925–2004) was an Akwesasne Mohawk basket maker, who lived on the border between Canada and the United States. Leaf specialized in basket making, having learned customary basketry techniques from her mother. Her work can be found in the collections of the Newark Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian.

NYC Ya Basta Collective

The NYC Ya Basta Collective was a group of anti-globalization activists, based primarily in NYC, active from roughly October, 2000 through October, 2001.

Initiated in October, 2000 by L Fantoni and TFG Casper on the heels of the anti-IMF / World Bank protests in Prague, a collective soon formed and developed its own variation of the Tute Bianche tactic of the padded block. The collective organized several actions and events highlighting the inadequacy of borders, in support of immigrant rights, and against racism and racialist hate groups.

In April, 2001, this collective, along with the Direct Action Network, was active in organizing, after invitation, a Canada–United States border crossing over the Seaway International Bridge, in cooperation with the Akwesasne Mohawk Warrior Society, at the St Regis Mohawk reservation, leading up to the anti-FTAA protests in Quebec City, Quebec. An estimated 500 anti-globalists, along with a few Mohawk warriors, challenged the legitimacy of the border. The collective never made it to Quebec.

The NYC Ya Basta Collective has not officially disbanded.


Quillwork is a form of textile embellishment traditionally practiced by Native Americans that employs the quills of porcupines as an aesthetic element. Quills from bird feathers were also occasionally used in quillwork.

Raquette River

The Raquette River, sometimes spelled Racquette, originates at Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. 146 miles (235 km) long, it is the third longest river entirely in the state of New York.

The river is a popular destination for canoeing and kayaking. It passes through many natural and man-made lakes to its final destination at Akwesasne on the Saint Lawrence River. The river is the source of 27 hydroelectric plants operated by Brookfield Power, which at capacity can produce up to 181 megawatts of power.Historically, the river was a part of the "Highway of the Adirondacks", by which it was possible to travel hundreds of miles by canoe or guideboat with short stretches of portage connecting various waterways. This route is still followed by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a 740-mile (1,190 km) canoe trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent in Maine. It is also the basis of the route of the Adirondack Canoe Classic, a three-day, 90-mile canoe race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake.

Saint Regis, New York

Saint Regis is a hamlet in the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in Franklin County, New York, United States. It lies on the NY 37 highway near the Canada–United States border, at the confluence of the St. Regis River with the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

St. Regis Indians

The St. Regis Indians were a Senior "A" box lacrosse team from St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, New York on Akwesasne Island. The Indians played in the Major Series Lacrosse Senior "A" Lacrosse League from 1998 to 2009.

St. Regis River

The St. Regis River is an 86-mile-long (138 km) river in northern New York in the United States. It flows into the Saint Lawrence River at the hamlet of Saint Regis in the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. The Saint Regis River basin includes Upper and Lower St. Regis Lakes, and Saint Regis Pond in the Saint Regis Canoe Area. It's a great fishery for trout.

Municipalities and communities of Franklin County, New York, United States


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