Akwesasne Travel, the official Destination Marketing and Management Organization (DMMO) for the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, has now launched in-person cultural tours to promote the region and its heritage. Akwesasne is an indigenous community which straddles the US/Canada international border along the St. Lawrence River, trisected by New York State and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. It is the only destination in South Eastern Ontario and one of the few in Northern New York for visitors to educate themselves about the area’s Indigenous heritage and cultural traditions.
During National Native American Heritage Month, Akwesasne Travel launched three immersive cultural tours hosted by experts in the community that provides guests a chance to learn about First Nations’ history, culture, art and local cuisine.
Come Weave With Chill Baskets (US)
A studio tour of Mohawk basket making with award-winning artist and owner of Chill Baskets, Carrie Hill. Learn about the impressive history of Mohawk basket making in Akwesasne and the intricacies of crafting one of her beautiful masterpieces using mostly homemade tools and locally sourced materials. Visitors will also get hands-on creating their own sweetgrass bookmark using the same ancient techniques.
Traditional Lacrosse Stick Making (US)
Learn how traditional wooden lacrosse sticks are made by the people who invented the game. From selecting the wood to the highly crafted end product, this tour features demonstrations of the six stages of the lacrosse stick-making process. In Akwesasne, lacrosse is not just a game, it is an ancient Haudenosaunee tradition dating back centuries.
A Tour of Mohawk Life (ON)
Be immersed in Mohawk culture with interpretive guides at Native North American Travelling College, a non-profit cultural centre dedicated to preservation, revitalization and education of Mohawk ways of life. This guided Indigenous cultural tour provides guests with a better understanding and experience of the Mohawk peoples’ culture, experiences and storytelling. Learn about the Creation Story, the importance of the Mohawk language, and even handle various objects from the museum’s expansive collection.
Penny Peters, Tourism Industry Development Manager, said: “I am more than excited and certainly proud to be launching Akwesasne Travel. To see all the work our team, our businesses and our community have put into this finally come to life is beyond words.”
Peters continued: “I cannot wait to see how our cultural businesses flourish from this initiative. While we educate each other to understand the importance of the Indigenous tourism ‘family,’ we are seeing the creation of partnerships enhance not only Akwesasne but our entire region as well.”
Tourism in Akwesasne represents much more than educational opportunities and cultural experiences; the creation of a tourism industry in Akwesasne spurs economic growth and a chance to start new businesses for Indigenous people.
This newly developed tourism organization presents an opportunity for a beloved Indigenous community to tell their own side of history in their own words, a history that has been historically misrepresented and ignored for far too long. It is imperative that the history of a people be told by its members in a way that they deem appropriate and authentic.
Akwesasne Travel is also thrilled to be the catalyst in developing new partnerships with neighboring counties and cities to help grow tourism to the area as a whole, including Cornwall, Ontario.
To aid in tourism’s road to recovery, it is important to work together toward a brighter future and Cornwall Tourism has been an integral part of Akwesasne Travel’s launch. The Ontario tourism organization is partnering with hotels and restaurant experiences to create packages that encourage visitors to ‘make the extra mile’ and travel to the island to explore Akwesasne.
Cornwall Tourism and Akwesasne Travel’s partnership demonstrates a big step in the immersion and accessibility of Indigenous tourism experiences in cities, both complementing each other with the ideal services, amenities, and education to give guests a complete experience.
Kevin Lajoie, Tourism Officer with the City of Cornwall, observed: “Our region is rich in culture and history and we are thrilled to be working in unison with Akwesasne Travel to collectively raise the profile of our area as a visitor destination.”
Lajoie continued: “From outdoor adventure and dining to culture, attractions and everything in between, there’s an amazing array of one-of-a-kind experiences waiting to be discovered in Akwesasne and Cornwall.”
Activities and tours in Cornwall include:
Cornwall Food Tour: Guided walking tour of Cornwall’s culinary scene and historic elements, with three different themed tours on offer.
Historic Cornwall SDG Jail Tour: One of Ontario’s oldest jails, decommissioned in 2002, tells many stories from life in prison almost 200 years ago to numerous unclaimed bodies buried in the exercise yard.
Saunders Hydro Dam Visitor Center: Exciting and informative displays showcasing the history of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project as well as great biodiversity stories like the American Eel.
The Riverside Trail: Over 40km of waterfront, traffic-free paved trails winding through Cornwall and Stormont counties passing by many great attractions. Enjoyed greatly by cyclists, runners and hikers.
Hotel Packages: Cycle & Stay, Explore & Stay and Fish & Stay packages are available starting at $149.00 per night for double occupancy and include a minimum of $30 voucher towards local restaurants.
For more on Cornwall, go to https://cornwalltourism.com/stay/promotions/ .
For more on Akwesasne Travel’s in-person and virtual tours, go to https://akwesasne.travel/mohawk-cultural-tours/.
Akwesasne Travel also supports destination marketing, visitor services, retail promotion and tourism infrastructure, while supporting an exceptional visitor experience in both the US and Canada.
Akwesasne Travel can be contacted at (518) 358-4238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .