Racing for freedom in Akwesasne

The Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS) challenges all Haudenosaunee communities to participate in the Annual AFS Survival Race event on August 23rd. The race is $150.00 per team with great prizes being awarded. The hope is that every Haudenosaunee community will send representatives to compete for such a worthy cause.


Elvera Sargent, Interim Manager for AFS, informed the Two Row Times that the event includes; a half mile swim, a 6 mile canoe, 10 miles bike ride, 40 lbs female or 80 lbs male one mile back pack run and finally a 6.2 mile run. The race doesn’t promise to be easy but it does promise to be fun.

Volunteer and parent, Crystal Henry, tells us each team is a maximum of 6 members with at least one member being female. Henry recalls that a young man, Stewart Peters, was determined to complete the entire race by himself, and so the committee made an exception. He, unfortunately, didn’t place for a money prize but the Freedom School was so moved by his gesture they gave him a honorary mention.

The Survival Race is part of a two day fundraiser for the schools Annual Dinner Event; day one is the Survival Race and day two is the popular Quilt Auction. There will be a variety of vendors, silent auction, Mohawk auction, games and entertainment featuring Larry Omaha.

Prizes for the race are as follows; $1,000 for first place, $500.00 for second and $250 for third. The quilts are auctioned to the highest bidder, who is given the opportunity to make a 10% deposit and 6 months to pay the remaining balance.

“The Freedom School,” as outlined by Sargent, “has been hosting this event for over 30 years [proceeds are] always for the benefit of the school to ensure the future generations of Kanienkehaka ratiksa’okon:a will have the opportunity to learn their language, culture, and traditions.”

survivalrace1In 1979, parents reclaimed their right to educate their children. AFS started out as a parent driven initiative and remains as such. The AFS and the people who have dedicated their time throughout the years have been the champions of language revitalization. Some current students are the grandchildren of the early year’s students.

Sargent also informed Two Row Times about two new immersion programs; the Language Nest and a high school. These new programs are a continuum of language supports by starting the children earlier and keeping them longer. It has created a demand for more Mohawk teachers. Thus, if you love children and love the language you can apply to the AFS.

A tax deductible donation can be made out to Friends of the Akwesasne Freedom School, PO Box 290, Rooseveltown, NY 13683. For further information please call Elvera Sargent @ 518-358-9146 or email at bela@westelcom.

Related Posts