SARANAC LAKE — Dave Kanietakeron Fadden stood next to the favorite of his paintings in the gallery at BluSeed Studios on Friday, speaking to a crowd gathered in a semi-circle around him about the history of residential schools.

Behind him were hundreds of sullen faces in black and white. He spoke about how these schools in the U.S. and Canada — which were largely established by Christian missionaries and operated by Christian churches with government funding — stripped Indigenous people of their culture for over a century, taking off their traditional clothes and putting them in military uniforms, cutting their hair and severely punishing them if they spoke their native language.

It is a painful part of his history, one which nearly destroyed that language, he explained.

“But this is where we are now,” Fadden said, sweeping his arm across the image. At the right-most edge of the canvas, there’s an explosion of vibrant color, braided hair and laughter.

“We’re coming out of that dark period,” he said. “We’re able to practice our culture. We’re able to wear our traditional outfits, go to our ceremonies. We have self-determination of our own future.”

Read the full article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.