Mohawks Express Gratitude for Akwesasne Health Advocate
A former New York State wildlife pathologist and longtime advocate for the health of Mohawks, especially at Akwesasne in Hogansburg, New York, Dr. Ward Stone, recently suffered a series of strokes and is currently staying at Albany Medical Center.
His tireless efforts helped prove that the bodies of young Akwesasne Mohawk adults have twice the levels of the industrial pollutant polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as the national average. PCBs are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), commonly called endocrine disruptors. EDCs mimic or block hormones and disrupt the body’s normal functions. They are also linked to some cancers and have been found to have adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system and nervous system. Indian Country Today Media Network examined the issue in-depth in the article: Akwesasne Mohawk Youth Are Still at Risk of Industrial Pollutants.
Here, Tom Sakokwenionkwas Porter, the Spokesman and Chief Spiritual Leader of the Mohawk Community of Kanatsiohareke (Ga na jó ha láy:gay) in Fonda, New York, and Kay Ionataiewas Olan, a masterful Mohawk storyteller, share their appreciation for the dedicated environmental activist and his work:
We would like to take this opportunity to express our utmost gratitude to Ward Stone for all that he has done to help the Mohawk people. He has been a strong advocate for the health of Mohawks, especially at Akwesasne. In the 1980s, a midwife from Akwesasne, a Mohawk reservation located not far from Massena, New York, named [Tekatsitsiakwa] Katsi Cook, got in touch with Ward Stone and expressed concern about the effects of industrial pollution on the health of the people who reside there. Stone found extremely high levels of PCBs, insecticides and other toxins in area fish and wildlife. His work led to irrefutable proof that the dumping of contaminants by nearby factories was responsible for the high level of PCBs found in mother’s milk at Akwesasne. As a result, the people at Akwesasne are benefitting from the awareness of what needs to be done to maintain a healthy environment for the generations to come.
Ward Stone has worked tirelessly not only as a strong and dedicated spokesperson for the animals, insects, fish, birds, water, air and Mother Earth, but he has also spoken up for the health and welfare of the people of the Northeast.
Niawenko:wa (thank you), Ward Stone.
Tom Sakokwenionkwas Porter, Bear Clan Mohawk
Kay Ionataiewas Olan, Wolf Clan Mohawk