SARANAC - When John Fadden thinks about his late father, he remembers a man passionate about teaching.
Though many remember Ray Fadden today for his career as a middle school science teacher for the Saranac Central School District during the 1950s and '60s, he was also known for his tireless efforts to break down the stereotypes of Native Americans.
"He did the work of 10 men in that time period," said John Fadden.
Ray Fadden was born Aug. 23, 1910 in a farmhouse east of the hamlet of Onchiota in the Adirondack Mountains. His birth was a mere 20 years after the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota, which saw the deaths of roughly 300 men, women and children of the Lakota Sioux.
"The general idea about the Indians back then was they were to be eradicated, to get rid of them," said John. "When my dad was born, there was a lot of that thinking still there."
Though Ray Fadden passed away in November 2008 at the age of 98, he has left behind a legacy, said his son. The Six Nations Indian Museum that stands the former Mohawk elder's hometown today, is a testament to the hard work in which he invested more than 50 years of his life. The museum, said John Fadden, was established to teach the "true history of the Mohawk people" - a history not found in traditional history books years ago.
Ray Fadden utilized what he learned from relationships he established with other nations like the Iroquois, Onondaga and Tuscarora to not only create the museum, but to publish 27 pamphlets and approximately 40 charts to educate mainstream society about the expansive Native American culture. In the 1990s, the Book Publishing Company of Summertown, Tenn., issued three compilations of Ray Fadden's work - "Legends of the Iroquois," "Wampum Belts of the Iroquois," and "Roots of the Iroquois."
"Whatever he did, he did it big," said John Fadden.
Adirondack folk singer Roy Hurd, who is known throughout the North Country, was one of Ray Fadden's students. Hurd remembered him for his passion for Native American culture and, particularly, of the Mohawk Nation.
"He basically saved the culture of the Mohawk people as far as I'm concerned and as far as what I've read because the children didn't know much about it back then," said Hurd. "Ray completely influenced my artistry. He influenced and touched a lot of lives."
The importance Ray Fadden had in Hurd's life, and the lives of many others, said Hurd, is why he decided to organize a concert in his memory. The concert, which will benefit the Six Nations Indian Museum and the Fadden family, will be held this Saturday, March 7, at the auditorium of Saranac Central High School on Picketts Corners Road.
When John Fadden learned the concert would benefit the museum - the place where his father spent many of his final years - he was very pleased. Raising money for the museum is something he said will have an impact on educating future generations.
"The work that my dad started isn't finished," he said. "That's what we try to follow through with at the museum. It's very important."
This Saturday's benefit concert will be held from 1-4 p.m. and feature performances not only by Hurd, but by Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Joanne Shenandoah, among others. Several Native American storytellers will also be featured during the event, including John Fadden's son, David Fadden.
The cost of admission for the event will be $15 per person at the door or $10 for high school students. Children younger than 12 will be admitted free.