Akwesasne is among the most storied of all originally-held Onkwehon:we territories. The un-extinguished connection to earlier historical times stands out quite uniquely. There also remain voices in Akwesasne that can speak to this earlier age. This is a special report about the Unknown Akwesasne, from that perspective.
Are there unknown creatures in the waters surrounding Akwesasne? How long have they been there?
The St. Lawrence River defines the “Land Where the Partridge Drums” which is the translation of Akwesasne within the Kanien’keha language. According to the comprehensive historical website The Wampum Chronicles, what is now called the St. Lawrence River Valley was then known as Kaniatarowanenneh, or the “big waterway.”
Any number of mysterious animals and happenings have been observed in the international waterway.
Reports of Nazi German submarines were seen in the river during World War Two. More recently, unknown bright lights have been observed travelling at extraordinary speeds downriver, between Kawehnoke (Cornwall Island) and Raquette Point. These have been called Unidentified Submerged Objects (USOs).
Aquatic animals also have been observed. Some people on the river swear they have seen dolphins or porpoises trailing large sea freighters on the river. Others that live farther downriver point to large Greenland sharks at the river’s mouth. The television series Monster quest filmed an episode on the subject.
The area is also known for large eels that migrate to the area annually. A popular rumor is that famed sea adventurer Jacques Cousteau conducted a study of the area decades ago, but his divers refused to go back into the river due to the size of the wildlife they came into contact with. My own contact with the Cousteau Society ruled out that actually taking place, but I heard the original story from more than one person.
One Akwesasne resident, Judy Thompson of Raquette Point, told me that she was in her yard with some tribal employees decades ago when they all viewed what looked like an upright telephone pole that was moving against the river current. A photograph of the object was taken by the workers but Judy never saw the picture. She did continue to see the unknown creature for years afterward in the same area.
This specific shape was again seen in the water during the summer of 2009 when Akwesasne residents ferried themselves from the Ahnawate Marina to Kawehnoke, during the closure of the CBSA port of entry there. It was explained to me that so much activity was taking place on the river to draw out these animals.
It was thought by some elders that tunnels connected the rivers here with Lake Champlain. The area had originally been the Champlain Sea. Beluga whale remains were found in nearby St. Lawrence County during archaeological investigations in the area. Lake Champlain itself is known for an unknown creature called “Champ.”
Another Akwesasne connection worth mentioning is the story of a seer or medium from the Caribbean who looked upon a postcard of Akwesasne. The psychic mentioned that she saw two giant snakes associated with the reservation, especially with the village of Kanatakon (St. Regis). A certain family was mentioned as having lost many members of their family to the river in unexplained deaths over the years. The seer said that the family had originally made an agreement to feed the snakes but they had not kept up their end of the agreement. The medium said that the snakes were enormous and lived under “the yellow island.”