At the confluence of the St. Regis and St. Lawrence Rivers lies the St. Regis Indian Reservation, or Akwesasne, Where the Ruffed Grouse Drums. You’ll see signs along Route 37: This Is Indian Land; Private Property; No FBI, IRS, or Other Agencies. Gas stations selling tax-free gasoline, and mock tepees selling souvenirs strew the roadsides.
Akwesasne is home to about 6,000 Mohawk. The reservation straddles the St. Lawrence Seaway and the United States/Canadian border, and includes several islands.
In Hogansburg, about 10 miles east of Massena , is the large and well laid out Akwesasne Museum (Rte. 37, 518/358-2240 or 518/358-2461, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri. July–Aug.; noon–5:30 p.m. Mon. and Fri., 8:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Tues.–Thurs., and 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat. Sept.–June, adults $2, children 5–16 $1), housed in a big brown building that’s also home to the Akwesasne Cultural Center and Library.
The museum covers an entire floor and contains an outstanding collection of medicine masks, wampum belts, lacrosse sticks, carved cradle boards, water drums, Bibles written in the Mohawk language, beadwork, quillwork, modern artwork, historical photographs, and basketry.
Especially striking are the photography and basket exhibits. The photographs date back to the 1920s and depict a prosperous, pre-Depression Mohawk community bustling with shiny cars, sturdy baby prams, women in white dresses, and men in hats. The basket exhibit contains everything from a wedding basket, which looks just like a cake, to a thimble basket.
East of the museum is the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino (837 Rte. 37, 518/358-2222, www.mohawkcasino.com , 24 hours/day). Opened in spring 1999, the casino offers blackjack, craps, and roulette tables, and hundreds of video lottery terminals.