Brownfields Area 2
Area 2 extends from the Quebec/New York border in Akwesasne, south to State Route 37, and extends east from St. Regis Road to the western border of Akwesasne. A large percentage of Area 2 is known as the Snye marshes which include all of the small streams and wetlands found in the northern portion.
You may have seen many cattail plants in Akwesasne, which grow in freshwater wetlands. Cattails have a special place in Mohawk culture because there are legends that include cattails; there is even a whole creation story about how they came to be. Sweetgrass, which is well known for use in Mohawk baskets as well as in smudging, is another wetland plant that is used by native people everywhere.
Because of its special qualities, black ash is the tree of choice for Northeast Native Americans, including the Akwesasne Mohawks, for producing splint basketry. Black ash growth rings are easily separated by pounding with the back of an axe; the splints produced are flexible when moistened and become very strong once woven into a basket and dried. Mohawks produce baskets both for utilitarian purposes and as art. Many people are familiar with the pack baskets crafted with sturdy, tightly woven black ash splints that are used by hunters and trappers. Collectors prize the “sweet grass” basket that makes use of finer, more delicate splints (some brightly dyed) interwoven with braids of an aromatic grass.
From a cultural standpoint, black ash provides a foundation for the cultural identity of the Akwesasne Mohawks through unique designs in artful expression, such as the “strawberry basket,” which is woven into the shape of a strawberry, another important cultural plant. In addition to cultural expression, families and community are literally woven together, with traditions passed on through storytelling and interaction while log gathering, log pounding, splint cleaning and basket making.
The Akwesasne Mohawks, the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry Ranger School, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Collaborate to Plant Black Ash Seedlings