James Bruchac – Founder and Director of the Ndakinna Education Center [e-mail]
Jim is the son of well-known Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac. A licensed wilderness guide, Jim has been teaching tracking and various wilderness skills for the past twenty years. For more information, please visit Jim’s website.

Ivan M. Erchak – Ndakinna’s Head Wilderness Instructor/mentor [e-mail]
Ivan has studied advanced tracking, wilderness skills, and primitive technologies with Jim Bruchac and The Ndakinna Wilderness Project, Dr. James Halfpenny, Tom Brown, Frank Sherwood, Karen Sherwood and Ed Wentzler. Combined with his past training, Ivan brings with him the experience of travels to places such as Tanzania, South America, India, Morocco, Alaska and Europe. July of 2003 Ivan was featured on the television show, Worst Case Scenario (TBS) where he won their first Survival Showdown.

Mark D. Oppenneer – Ndakinna Education Director & Festival Organizer [e-mail]Mark is an English Teacher at Saratoga High School. He holds a MALS in Mythology and Oral Traditions from Empire State College and has studied the story traditions of people from around the world for many years as a listener and teller. Mark is also a forum moderator for the Joseph Campbell Foundation forums. Before being brought on as Education Director, Mark served on the Ndakinna board for one year.


Phaedra Zoe Stasyshyn – Wilderness Instructor & Youth Camp Staff
A Licensed New York State guide, Phaedra is both an avid outdoorswoman and photographer. Over the years, along with her Ndakinna training, she has completed training in wilderness travel and survival through Outward Bound as well as basic-advanced animal tracking under Dr. Jim Halfpenny. In addition to being a licensed guide, sheis a certified scuba diver and chimneysweep.

Luke McNally – Wilderness Instructor & Youth Camp Staff
Luke has been taking classes at Ndakinna for seven years. Having done extensive training in all aspects of survival and animal tracking under Jim Bruchac and Ivan Erchak, in the Summer of 2005 Luke completed a class under Dr. James Halfpenny (the Yellowstone Grizzly and Wolf tracking Expedition). Luke studies survival, tracking, plant I.D. & usage, awarness, and primitive craft in his apprenticeship under Ivan. Luke is also a living history reenactor and certified in first aid and CPR. Presently Luke serves as the Education Center’s grounds keeper. He mows lawns.

Brittaney Norris – Wilderness Instructor & Youth Camp Staff
Brittaney has been taking classes at Ndakinna for over five years. Having done extensive training in all aspects of survival and animal tracking under Jim Bruchac and Ivan Erchak, in the Spring of 2002 Brittaney completed a class in professional level animal tracking under Master tracker Dr. James Halfpenny. Brittaney is also certified in first aid and CPR.  Recently she was on the PBS Television show Wild T.V.  Besides her wilderness expertise Brittaney is a first degree black belt in Tenkara Karate.

Casey Assman – Assistant Wilderness Instructor & Youth Camp Staff
Casey has been taking classes at Ndakinna for over four years. In the Spring of 2002, she completed a class in professional level animal tracking under Master tracker Dr. James Halfpenny. Casey is also certified in first aid and CPR. She has appeared on the PBS Television show Wild T.V. – and in her free time, she has earned her Brown belt in Tenkara Karate.

Eric Jenks – Eric has worked or volunteered at Ndakinna since 2000. He is skilled at animal tracking, wilderness survival and at Native American Storytelling. Eric has studied under James Bruchac, Vince Walsh, Ivan Erchack, Jim Halfpenny, John Stokes and others.  He is certified in wilderness first aid, and CPR.  Besides working at Ndakinna, Eric has shared his skills at other locations in the area, including Camp Northwoods, at Skidmore College, and the Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops of Schuylerville.  Eric is currently pursuing degrees in Environmental Studies concentrated in Biology and Music at Skidmore College.


Elle Dietemann –  Fascinated by birds since early childhood, writer/naturalist Elle Dietemann was initially guided and inspired by the writing of Thornton W. Burgess. In 1997 she began an intensive study of animal tracking at the Ndakinna Wilderness Project, and later as an intern with Susan Morse of Keeping Track, Inc. Since 1999 Elle has published monthly nature essays for Hudson Valley Newspapers reflecting her unique experiences as a naturalist exploring the wild places that endure in rural/suburban America. Elle shares her knowledge of birds, plants and animals and the soulfulness of her extensive explorations in the wild through guided walks for private groups and community organizations.

Dr. James Halfpenny – A scientist and educator Jim’s background is mammalogy and ecology including polar, alpine, long-term specialties. Jim has been tracking since 1957 and teaching tracking since 1969. Jim is author of many books, articles, and videos.  He has conducted research and led expeditions to the four corners of the world including both polar regions, the deserts and mountains of China and Africa, and the forests of the tropics. Learn more about Jim here.

Gary Marchuk – Noted Adirondack Guide and Director of Bear Cub Adventure Tours, Gary adds his expertise during various Ndakinna Adirondack Adventures. One of nine guides featured in the Adirondack Life Magazine article The Guiding Life, Gary has dedicated his life to sharing his knowledge of the Adirondacks with others. 
Clark Hayward – Director of Adirondack Wilderness Medicine, Mr. Hayward has over 40 years of outdoor recreation and guiding experience. Currently he is a practicing paramedic with Saratoga Emergency Medical Services and the Lower Adirondack Wilderness Medical Rescue Team as well as an instructor and instructor trainer for the National Ski Patrol Outdoor Emergency Care Program, a New York State Licensed Outdoor Guide and a member of the Wilderness Medical Society.


Carol Bruchac – Treasurer
Without Carol, we would not have Ndakinna (or for that matter, its Director, James). She is a constant source of guidance, organizational support, and wisdom. Along with her husband, Joe, she is the founder and Co-Director of the Greenfield Review Literary Center from which The Ndakinna Education Center evolved.

Joseph Bruchac – Executive Director
Joseph Bruchac lives with his wife, Carol, in the Adirondack mountain foothills town of Greenfield Center, New York, in the same house where his maternal grandparents raised him. Much of his writing draws on that land and his Abenaki ancestry. He holds a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.A. in Literature and Creative Writing from Syracuse and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the Union Institute of Ohio. With his wife, Carol, he is the founder and Co-Director of the Greenfield Review Literary Center from which The Ndakinna Education Center evolved. For more information, please visit Joe’s website.

Marge Bruchac – Advisory Board Member
Marge specializes in interpreting northeastern Native colonial history, oral traditions, material culture, and cultural exchange. She has an M.A. in Anthropology, teaches in Anthropology, American Studies, and Native Studies, and has a number of scholarly articles in print. She performs traditional Algonkian and Abenaki songs, stories and dances with her husband, Justin Kennick, and has also performed and recorded with her brother Joe and nephews Jim and Jesse Bruchac as part of the “Dawnland Singers. Ms. Bruchac serves as an advisor for the Wampanoag Indigenous Program at Plimoth Plantation, a Trustee for Fort Ticonderoga, and a consultant for many other New England museums. [website]

John Conroe – Board Chair

John grew up in the north country and backpacked the Adirondacks year round as a teenager and adult. Along with his interest in scuba diving, wilderness survival and tracking, he has extensive canoeing and kayaking experience with trips throughout the Adirondack park and into northern Canada. John not only brings his love for the outdoors to the board, but also his years of finance and banking experience and his involvement in community organizations. He is presently an AVP/Investment Officer with the Adirondack Trust Company.

Robin Conroe – Board Member

Marjorie King – Board Member

Joseph Kulin – Board Member
Joe brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our board. He recently retired as Publisher of PARABOLA: The Magazine of Myth, Tradition and the Search for Meaning. During his 20 years there he also developed the Parabola Video and Audio Series, acquired distribution rights to such classics as “The Power of Myth,” and Peter Brook’s “The Mahabharata,” and produced an award-winning collection of audios and associated books, “The Native American Storytime Series.” More recently, he launched and directed “Cinema of the Spirit Festivals” that have played in a half dozen major cities, and he continues to be involved in producing independent spiritual film festivals. He serves as an advisor to Land is Life, an international organization which advocates for the land and human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Michael Lambert – Board Member

Kate O’Connell – Board Member

Kay (Ionataiewas) Olan – Board Member
A Wolf Clan Mohawk, Kay grew up on Long Island in New York State. Her summers were spent at Akwesasne (a Mohawk Reservation located under the New York/Canadian border) where Kay’s mother was born and raised. Kay completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at SUNY, New Paltz where she earned a B.A. and an M.S. in Education. She taught elementary school for 33 years. Upon retiring from teaching, Kay relocated to the Traditional Mohawk Community at Kanatsiohareke where she worked as Director and as assistant to Mohawk Elder, Tom Porter, for 3 years.


Nanatasis Bluto-Delvental – Nanatasis Bluto-Delvental is of the Turtle Clan of the Western Abenaki people. Originally from northwestern Vermont, she spent most of her life on Lake Champlain living in Burlington and Grand Isle.Trained by her clan mother and numerous elders, Nanatasis lives traditionally and shares her teachings with those who come to learn a life of harmony and balance. Nanatasis is also an herbalist working with wild plant medicines as well as those organically cultivated.

Brad Bonaparte – A Snipe Clan Mohawk, Brad Bonaparte is a well known Iroquois storyteller, singer, educator and artist. From his brilliant illustrations and paintings to his traditional shoulder bags, Brad’s artwork is strongly grounded in Iroquios culture. As a storyteller and walker of the high steel Brad keeps alive both past and present stories and traditions of his people.

Tatjana Donovan – Tatjana is of the Turtle Clan of the Western Abenaki Nation. Trained by her clan mother, she helps people learn about their heritage and cultural traditions. Until October 2005, she served as Executive Director of Ndakinna Incorporated, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the quality of life for Abenaki and other Native Americans in the Northeast. Her hand-made gourd bowls and rawhide rattle are on permanent display at the Fairbanks Museum.

Peter Jemison – A Heron Clan member of the Seneca Nation of Indians Peter is the Historic Site Manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site, the site of a 17th century Seneca Indian town located in Victor, New York. Along with his vast knowledge of Iroquois history and tradition Peter is a professional artist, who in 1998 was honored for Excellence in Iroquois Arts by the Governor of New York State.

Andree Newton – Following the example set by her father Maurice P. Dennis, Andree (Abenaki) not only shares, but has helped keep alive the unique Abenaki folk art of woodcarving. Her carvings in her own words “represent a rememberance of what was and what is today: The people of the dawn have become few yet their spirit is very much alive.”

Roger Perkins – A Bear Clan Mohawk, Roger Perkins is a well known Iroquois potter, traditional singer and educator. Along with his highly acclaimed clay pottery Roger Perkins’ educational programs have gained much popularity across the East. Through a combination of drum songs social dances and historical dialog Mr. Perkins brings to life the past and present histories and traditions of the Iroquois.

Jason Reitter – Jason is a Wolf Clan member of The Seneca Nation as well as a student and practitioner of primitive skills, wilderness survival and animal tracking. Working as an interpreter for Ganondagan Seneca Historical Site Jay educates all ages about past and contemporary Seneca culture. Having worked as an Assistant Wilderness Instructor at Ndakinna for over three years Jay adds his expertise in many areas of wilderness skills including wigwam construction and Seneca culture. Presently Jay is student at Paul Smith’s College.

Ronnie Reitter – A Cattaraugus Seneca from the Wolf Clan Ronnie specializes in making traditional regalia such as ribbon shirts, women’s outfits, shawls and soft No Face Dolls in complete Iroquois attire. Ronnie also creates cornhusk dolls and beaded birds. Along with bringing in the use of storytelling in her presentations Ronnie is also A singer with the Iroquois Women Singers. Presently, Ronnie works as an administrative assistant and interpreter in the Bark Longhouse and trails at Ganondagan State Historic Site.

Chief Jake Swamp (Tekaronianeken) – Traditional Mohawk Wolf Clan Cheif, representative on the Grand Council of Iroquois Confederacy and Founder of the Tree of Peace Society. Chief Swamp is also the author of the childrens book “Giving Thanks, A Native American Good Morning Message.” In 2001 Cheif swamp opened Ndakinna’s first Continuing The Circle event with a telling of the story of the Peacemaker and followed by the planting of a white pine.
Powhatan Swift Eagle – Of Pueblo Apache ancestry, Powhatan Swift Eagle is an extremely gifted storyteller, musician, silver smith and flute maker. Besides Having shared his tales at numerous Ndakinna events, as a professional storyteller, Pow has performed across the United States and abroad.

Michael Albert Tarbell (Wahrare) – Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan, Mike has dedicated his life to the study of the material culture of pre-contact Iroquois people, designed around careful replication of everyday tools such as bows, arrows, knives, warclubs, spears, and atlatls. In replicating these tools, Mr. Tarbell also engages in speculative consideration about the thoughts of the makers of the original tools. He draws on oral and written sources for this, as well as his own experience in making a specific item. Since 1996 he has been working at the Iroquois Indian Museum as Educator.

Tina Chrisjohn-Wyant – Oneida, Wolf Clan, Tina Chrisjohn-Wyant was born and raised in the Hudson Valley of New York by Oneida parents Richard G. (Dick) and Florence Chrisjohn. Tina was raised with a background rich in Iroquois culture. Her parents and her culture influenced much of her art work. Making crafts for her mother and observing her father carve at an early age taught her the patience used in creating her art.
Aaron York – Abenaki artisan Aaron York has dedicated his life to the construction and preservation of one of the most culturally signifigant Algonquin arts, the maskaiolagwag (birch bark canoe). Due to the importance of his craft, one of Aaron’s first canoes is on perminant display at Ndakinna.



Roy Hurd – Considered by many to be the Adirondacks most famous musician Roy “Poncho” Hurd is a dynamic performer and a world class singer-songwriter . In the years he has been performing, Roy has played his brand of mountain music nationally, and has developed a following unparalleled in the Adirondack Mountains. Roy’s song Adirondack Blue has become a modern-day Adirondack anthem, and his recordings are regional best sellers. Although Roy is a legendary regional treasure for the Northwood’s area, his music has impact far beyond its mountain borders.

Bill Smith – As one of the North Country’s most popular storytellers, Bill Smith’s presentations draw on his experiences growing up in the Adirondack region. Whether it be his days as a small boy listening to stories or his experiences running trap lines, making baskets, snowshoes, and rustic furniture or working as a forest ranger, outdoor educator and guide Bill’s multi-faceted presentations make it come alive. Author of the book Tales From The Featherbed: Adirondack Stories and Songs Bill has been the subject of nunerous articles, and featured in films and videos about the Adirondacks. Still an avid outdoors man Bill lives with his wife Sal in Colton, NY.

John Kirk – John Kirk is best known for his great voice and has always made his living as a musician. He sings, calls dances, fiddles and also plays mandolin, banjo, and guitar. john has his own recordings and has played on many more. The Dixie Chics recorded his song “Long Roads”. He teaches music at Bennington College in Vermont, and is a dynamic emcee, clogger and jokester.

Trish Miller – Trish Miller has been teaching and performing Appalachian clogging since 1981. She toured with The Green Grass Cloggers from Ashville, NC, has danced with John Kirk since 1988 and appears occasionally with other groups. Trish calls square dances, plays banjo, lap dulcimer and gives workshops on North American folk dance in schools.

Ed Lowman – Ed Lowman is a multi-instrumentalist and singer. Old-time and Cajun fiddling, bass, guitar, mondolin and carpentry are his trades. In addition to working with John and Trish since 1984, Ed has appeared with several groups including the St. Regis Stringband. He is known for his authentic rendition of early country songs, yodeling like Jimmie Rodgers, and Ed has worked as a studio musician on several recordings. For over two decades he has been the Schroon Lake dance coordinator.


Susan Shanley – A teaching artist, Susan recognizes that for many Native peoples, art, life, and spirituality are one. At Ndakinna, she collaborates with young people and adults to create art that celebrates the natural world and the traditions and culture of Northeastern Native peoples. Susan sees art as a powerful tool for connecting people to the earth, to themselves, and to each other.

Jack Zucchini – Musician and songwriter, Jack Powel, is a member of the nationally renowned group, The Zucchini Brothers. Known for their work in schools, theaters, and festivals throughout the country for the past 13 years, The Zucchini Brothers are winners of the NAPPA Gold Award and the Parents’ Choice Gold Award and have received critical acclaim for their albums “In Your Garden,” “Live! At The Clubhouse,” “Safe & Sound.” A year-round volunteer at The Ndakinna Education Center, Jack is a student of Native American studies, primitive skills, wilderness survival, and animal tracking.