Mohawk Elder & Author Tom Porter Thomas R. Porter (Sakokweniónkwas or “the one who wins”), is a member of the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, an Iroquois territory located on the St. Lawrence River. He is married to Alice Joe Porter who is Choctaw. He has six children and eleven grandchildren. Mr. Porter was acting Bear Clan Chief in the traditional longhouse movement, opposite the state-sanctioned Tribal Council and has served numerous positions on the Mohawk Nation of Chiefs Council for over 25 years.

Tom Porter is one of the last generation of his people to be raised as a Mohawk speaker from birth. Like his ancestors, who listened to traditional stories during the long winter months by the fire, Tom was weaned on the teachings of his great-grandparents’ and his grandparents’ generation. This unique background paved the way for him to become a champion for the revitalization of First Nations languages and traditions. Now a respected elder, he has devoted his life to educating both Native and non-Native people about the true history, culture and spirituality of the Iroquois or, as they prefer to call themselves, the Haudenosaunee. In the words of his cousin, author and award-winning journalist Doug George—Kanentiio, “He has, over the past four decades, become one of the most respected cultural teachers among the Iroquois, a spiritual leader welcome across the continent for his sincerity, wit and knowledge.”

Mr. Porter has been a nationally recognized figure in Indian Country since the 1960s when he co-founded the White Roots of Peace, a group of Iroquois Elders who toured the country sharing traditional teachings and encouraging Indians to embrace their respective Native traditions. Recognizing that Mohawk language and culture were dying out, he also co-founded the Akwesasne Freedom School for grades K-8, with a curriculum entirely in Mohawk.

Since 1993, Tom has been the founder, director and spiritual leader of the traditional Mohawk Community of Kanatsioharè:ke, located in the homeland of his ancestors, near Albany, New York. For the story of that community and how it came to be, see his previous book, Tom Sakokwenionkwas Porter: Kanatsiohareke: Traditional Mohawk Indians Return to Their Ancestral Homeland. 

In 2008, Tom Porter published the book And Grandma Said… Iroquois Teachings, in which we get to see in print a lifetime of teachings and memories, in words direct from the heart of, in Doug George’s words, “a person who has devoted his life to preserving the heritage of his Nation & Iroquois Culture. For more information, visit www.mohawkcommunity.com


Laura Turner SeydelEco-awareness is a way of life for Laura Turner Seydel. Years of earth-friendly living and community involvement have fueled her desire to “live green.” As a national environmental activist, speaker and eco-living expert, Laura’s mission is to educate families, youth and individuals alike about the opportunities and benefits of earth-friendly living.

Her many leadership responsibilities include:  National eco-living speaker and green product advocate for Laura Turner Seydel, LLC, Chairman of the Captain Planet Foundation, which provides grants to groups conducting environmental projects with elementary, middle, and high school students, Co-founder of Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy group that works to raise public awareness of issues related to the Chattahoochee River and secure measurable improvements in its health, and Co-founder of Mothers & Others for Clean Air, an organization that raises awareness about the link between asthma and air pollution.

As an extension of her environmental dedication, Laura and her husband Rutherford built EcoManor, the first Gold Certified LEED Home (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in the Southeast. EcoManor illustrates the opportunities and benefits of eco-friendly building and energy-efficient living through a mix of progressive new products, including solar energy, geothermal heating and cooling, rain water reclamation, and in-home gray water system. Serving as an educational tool, EcoManor has reached builders, architects, designers, landscapers, vendors, educators and homeowners to promote green living, conservation, and improved residential building practices.

Laura resides in Atlanta with her husband, Rutherford and their three children, John R, 15, Vasser, 13 and Laura Elizabeth, 11.  For more information about Laura visit: www.lauraseydel.com