'Skydancer' film screening at Canton's TAUNY Center tells story of Mohawk high steel workers
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 5:27 pm

CANTON -- From the depths of the rural riverbeds to the heights of the city skyline, Mohawk ironworkers have helped build it all.

The community is invited to join TAUNY, Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, for a special presentation of "Skydancer," a film about the Mohawk ironworkers who regularly commute from Akwesasne to New York City to work on the “high steel,” building the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

The program will take place Saturday, Oct. 14, from 7-9 p.m. at The TAUNY Center, 53 Main St. The showing will be followed by a Q&A with special guests Sky and Bear Fox, who are featured in the film. Light refreshments will be served. There is a $5 suggested donation for this program.

This 2011 film by Academy Award-nominated director Katja Esson follows ironworkers Jerry McDonald Thundercloud and Sky Fox as they shuttle between the hard drinking Brooklyn lodging houses they call home during the week and their family lives, a gruelling drive six hours north back home to Akwesasne on the weekends.

Through archival documents and interviews, it also explores the broader history of the Mohawk skywalkers, presenting the nuanced and visually stunning stories of these renowned men who, over six generations, have been traveling to New York City to work on some of the biggest construction jobs in the world.

While the film focuses on more recent work on construction projects in the city, it also helps shed light on an important--and often stunning--aspect of the work that went into shaping the Raquette River as we now know it. In the oral histories conducted for TAUNY’s current exhibit, “‘Look Down, You’ll See Our Tracks’: Raquette River Dam Stories,” many spoke of the incredible skill and courage of the Mohawk ironworkers who helped construct the dams and powerhouses. Though few of the Mohawk ironworkers involved in the 1950s power project around Colton are living today, many of those who worked on the Raquette River facilities also did the high steel work featured in this film, and for many families this type of work comes down through multiple generations. Along with illuminating the incredible accomplishments of these ironworkers, the film provides a framework for exploring vital questions about the variety of experiences and cultural perspectives that play into the story of the Raquette River power project.

This program is an American Craft Week event and is part of the program series for TAUNY’s latest exhibit, “‘Look Down, You’ll See Our Tracks’: Raquette River Dam Stories.” This exhibit tells the stories of people involved in or significantly affected by the construction of the hydroelectric dams and powerhouses along the Raquette River. The exhibit will be on view at The TAUNY Center until October 21, 2017. Additional information about this and other programs in the exhibit program series can be found at tauny.org.