Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-4289


Sunday, October 19, 2014

The TAUNY Center

Downtown Canton, NY

The Salute

Each year, the North Country Heritage Award is presented to individuals, families, and community groups who have mastered traditional arts or customs identified with our region, and have remained committed to passing them on to future generations. Photos and information about the recipients of the award are added to the North Country Wall of Fame gallery in the upstairs classroom at The TAUNY Center.

Research and documentation of these North Country Legends has been carried out by TAUNY founder, Varick Chittenden. Photography by Jason Hunter. The 2014 Salute is made possible by generous support from The Sweetgrass Foundation and the Corning Incorporated Foundation.

Island Chapel

Interdenominational Services

Upper Saranac Lake

In 1889, three lawyers from Plattsburgh purchased a one acre island in the southern end of Upper Saranac Lake with a commitment to build a chapel for Christian worship there within a year. Island Chapel, on Chapel Island, began as a Presbyterian mission served by legendary “lumberjack sky pilot” Rev. Aaron Maddox and has held interdenominational Sunday services each July and August since 1890.

The first chapel, a small Victorian structure, burned in 1956 and was re- placed shortly after with the present structure. All who attend arrive by boat, including many on the chapel-owned Chapel Bound, a pontoon boat that de- parts from Indian Carry. The chapel is a popular spot for weddings and other summer gatherings.


Akwesasne Women Singers

Traditional Mohawk Music


What began in the 1980s, when female members of the Swamp fam- ily first organized the Women’s Singing Society of Akwesasne, has become an important cultural group for the Mohawk people. In Haudenosaunee culture, singing societies, until recently all men, are charged with the responsibility of giving assistance and support to those in the commu- nity who have suffered a loss of some sort.

A major goal of this group has been to help to keep the Mohawk language alive through song. Whether sung for traditional ceremonies in the Longhouse, for social occasions in their community and beyond, or for teaching their own children, most of the songs are written and performed in Mohawk. These wom- en believe that through their songs they honor Mother the Earth, Grandmother the Moon, grandparents from every generation, and the Great Law of Peace. With as many as 14 women and girls and a core group of 6 or 8, they per- form traditional songs and new compositions by their leader, Theresa Bear Fox. The singing is occasionally accompanied by rattles and water drums. They have produced several CDs.

Polish American Citizens Club of Lewis County

Polka Dances


In the early twentieth century Polish immigrants migrated from the coal mines of Pennsylvania seeking healthy fresh air and work on farms in southern Lewis County. By the 1920s, a Catholic parish named for patron Saint Hedwig was established in the hamlet of Houseville. At about that same time the Polish American Citizens Club, typical of ethnic social clubs of the era, was formed, as a place where people could keep their language and other traditions alive.

Local newspaper accounts from the 1930s and 40s frequently publicized dances at the Polish American Club Hall in Glenfield, a building that was still maintained until 1993. Joint picnics with the Hungarian American Club could attract as many as 500 people.

The club today, though smaller, sponsors polka dances several times a year, with local dancers teaching polka lessons before each one. For their fall dance each year, they also include a complete dinner of traditional Polish dishes made by local families.

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