Within minutes, I can tell that I will be learning more about Akwesasne in one hour than in two years of living near the cross-border reserve. My guide is Joyce King, who has played many roles here for more than 15 years. This isn’t going to be just a quick spin around the exhibits at the Native North American Traveling College, the community’s cultural hub.

Tourism in Akwesasne has come a long way since the NNATC began operating out of a VW van in 1969, travelling between Indigenous communities with a mission to support cultural preservation. Today the institution occupies a permanent home on Cornwall Island, and is the first stop for visitors interested in learning about Mohawk and Akwesasne culture.

Akwesasne, the territory, comprises land in Ontario, Quebec and New York. But despite this imposed geographical complexity, residents (Akwesasronon) consider themselves to be one community. In Canada, visitors get the foundations of Akwesasne culture at NNATC – which includes a museum and an art gallery – and, on the U.S. side, at the Akwesasne Cultural Center.