Paul Smith’s College students have completed construction of the Akwesasne Mobile Cultural Center. This new cultural center is a result of a partnership between Paul Smith’s College and the Nia’s Little Library – a nonprofit that promotes literacy and preserve the Mohawk language.
In 2020, Nia’s Little Library director, Akat Ransom, contacted Professor Deb Naybor at Paul Smith’s College with an idea to design a mobile library and learning center for the Akwesasne community.
In 2022, after a pause in the project due to Covid-19, the Akwesasne Settlement Trust Fund provided funding to underwrite the project. And by September that year, the construction had begun by Paul Smith’s College senior capstone students.
Under the guidance and direction of Professor Naybor, 22 students over the course of this academic year, completed 90% of the building themselves, learning hands on through the process basic construction skills. Built with locally sourced wood as well as recycled or environmentally conscious materials, students learned to make choices that reduce the impact on our environment. In addition, students were awarded a Paul Smith’s College Sustainability Grant for a solar powered system so that the center can be operated completely off grid.
The trailer includes original designs such as a bookshelf for children that looks like branches of a tree, a kitchen countertop made of scraps of exotic and local woods, a tile mosaic of the Mohawk creation story and carvings of the Haudenosaunee clan animals.
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Photo of Akwesasne Mobile Cultural Center provided.