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The Forest Theater, Ticonderoga, New York
Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American | No Comments
Near the shore of Lake Champlain stands a beautiful pine and hemlock grove, the site of an ancient Indian village. Here, every August, is held an Indian pageant based on the lives of famous Six Nation Chiefs and warriors. This Indian pageant has grown from a handful of actors to a cast of as high as a hundred and twenty five. Thousands of people travel many miles to see these pageants. As they watch the actors they are taken back to the days when the Six Nations held sway over the beautiful Ticonderoga Region.
The festival owes its birth and growth to a friend and adopted brother, Thomas. D. Cook or better known as Ka-hon-hes ‘A Long River’ because like a growing river his good work widens and covers much territory as be goes along in life.
Since a boy, Ka-hon-hes has been filled with pity and shame at the treatment accorded the Indian by the white race. Mr. Cook, as a keen student of Indian history, was still more disgusted knowing that the average white person continued to believe erroneous, false notions that the Indian Race was made up of bloodthirsty, sadistic people. To bring home the truths about the Indian, and particularly the Six Nations, to as many people as possible and in the most convincing manner Tom Cook developed the Indian Pageants. Each of the several pageants has been written by himself. Each has been studied by officials of the New York State Historical Association who have sent back word that the pageants are, in every detail, absolutely authentic and accurate.
In these pageants are scenes contradicting the belief that the Iroquois were savage, uncultured, cruel and bloodthirsty. They point out the early Indians were a cultured people. Based on early records the audience is shown that original Iroquois lived a happy, balanced and religious life. These pageants show the Iroquois as a kind, hospitable and generous race, that they were almost fanatical in their honesty and determination to fulfill a given pledge. A Six Nation Chief who saw one of these pageants said, “The Ticonderoga Pageant is the greatest contribution white men have made to the Indian Race.” The Stockade Theatre, The Long Balk House, Ka-hon-hes and his Indian Pageants are living memorials to our people, they of the Kayanerenhgowah!
From the Forest Theater the Akwesasne Warriors headed south and followed beautiful Lake George to its head. There, in Lake George Park, they saw a monument erected to a great Mohawk Chief, Aroniateka ‘Fiendich’. This chief was known as King Hendrick. The Society of Colonial Wars erected this monument to commemorate the victory of the colonial forces under General William Johnson and his Mohawk allies under Chief Hendrick over the French Regulars commanded by Baron Dieskau.
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