Paul Smith’s College Students Complete the Akwesasne Mohawk Mobile Cultural Center

May 18, 2023 | News

Tours of the Mobile Cultural Center will be held at the College’s Tomkins Garage on May 20 from 9am to 11am and is Free and Open to the Public

Paul Smith’s, NY –Paul Smith’s College students have completed construction of the Akwesasne Mobile Cultural Center. This important 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. See previous story here:

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.

“When two like-minded people get an idea to create a place of learning that can be shared with the community, it can have a powerful impact on multiple communities,” said Interim President Dan Kelting. “I congratulate Professor Naybor, Director Ransom, and our wonderful Paul Smith’s College students for constructing a wonderful center to better preserve the cultural and history of the Akwesasne people.”

Dr. Deb Naybor, professor of natural resources and sustainability stated, “The students are so proud of this project.  It has given them a sense of accomplishment and a way to help a community which has many challenges.  This is what Paul Smith’s does; we take an idea and turn it into experiential learning that leads to a positive end product.”

All the hard work culminating in a trailer, physically much larger than anticipated, will have a lasting impact on communities for years to come. The public is welcome to join for a tour of the Cultural Center for Learning on Saturday, May 20 from 9am to 11am at Paul Smith’s College, Tomkins Garage. 


At Paul Smith’s College, it’s about the experience. As the only four-year institution of higher education located in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York, Paul Smith’s provides real-world, hands-on learning in fields such as business and hospitality, culinary management, forestry, environmental sciences and natural resources. We are able to draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. Our community of resourceful, enterprising, supportive and adventurous individuals collectively provide experiential education, student support in the classroom and beyond, and meaningful opportunities for our alumni. We pride ourselves on research and advocacy on issues that improve our planet and the lives of the people who inhabit it. Learn more at »



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