Ndakinna Staff

James Bruchac – Founder and Program Director of the Ndakinna Education Center

Jim is the son of well-known Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac. A licensed wilderness guide and ropes course instructor, Jim has been teaching tracking and various wilderness skills for the past twenty years. For more information, please visit Jim’s Website at www.jamesbruchac.com

Joseph Bruchac – Executive Director

Joseph Bruchac lives 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. 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, www.josephbruchac.com.

Jesse Bruchac – Youth Camp Assistant Director

Jesse Bowman Bruchac (born 1972) Began worked as a guest performer and instructor at the Ndakinna Education for over twenty years. This year he has joined the Ndakinna staff as a full time instructor. He brings with him many skills that are close to our core mission including Native American storytelling and music. He is an accomplished musician with several albums of Native flute, drum and rattle music. Another new element that Jesse will bring to Ndakinna is is experticce in the Abenaki language. He is a fluent speaker and has been teaching it most of his adult life. Using simple interactive activities and songs, Jesse will introduce participants in camps at Ndakinna to the original Native language of Ndakinna (an Abenaki word meaning “our land.” Jesse is also skilled in outdoor skills, having attended The Tracking Project’s Hawkeye training throughout his youth in New Mexico, is certified in our ropes course and has taught along side his brother, Ndakinna director James Bruchac for decades.Among his notable accomplishments Jesse created and acts as webmaster of WesternAbenaki.com, a free online language learning portal. He has worked as composer for the operetta The Purchase of Manhattan (2015), a translator for the AMC hit show TURN (2014), a short film by Alanis Obomsawin When All the Leaves Are Gone (2010) and as translator, dialect/dialogue coach and composer for the National Geographic movie Saints & Strangers (2015), a film which includes over an hour of translated dialogue in the Western Abenaki language and two months of on set actor training and filming in South Africa with over two dozen actors. He has traveled throughout the United States teaching both the Abenaki language and culture. The Ndakinna Education Center and teaches wilderness survival classes. He also is an active martial artist, an instructor and black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Eric Jenks – Associate Director

Eric has worked or volunteered at Ndakinna since 1998. He is skilled at animal tracking, wilderness survival, Native American Storytelling and photography. As the Associate Director, Eric is involved with social media, press releases, community outreach, our camps, grant writing, and more. Eric has studied animal tracking and wilderness survival under James Bruchac, Vince Walsh, Jim Halfpenny, John Stokes and others across the country for more than twenty years. Besides working at Ndakinna, Eric has run his own photography business for over a decade (www.awasos.com), and shared his outdoor skills at other locations in the area – including Camp Northwoods at Skidmore College, and the Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops of Schuylerville. He has also worked as an outdoor educator for C5 Los Angeles while based in Hyattville, WY. Eric graduated from Skidmore College in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies concentrated in Biology, with a second major in Music.

Executive Officers & Board Members

Joseph Bruchac – Executive Director (see bio above)

Jesse Bruchac – Treasurer (see bio above)

Simon Ouderkirk – Board Chair

Simon is a product of the New York State public education system, holding multiple degrees from the Binghamton campus. Since graduating he has worked across industries, becoming an award winning journalist, a father, and an IBM recognized analytics innovator. Simon currently works as a data scientist with Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com.

Dr. Nicola Marie Allain – Board Secretary

Dean of the School of the Arts and Humanities, and a tenured faculty member in the arts, digital media, and learning and emerging technologies at SUNY Empire State College. Nicola is also a dancer/choreographer specializing in Asia/Pacific traditions. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Ottawa, Canada; a master’s degree in dramatic art with a dance and music emphasis from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Ph.D. in Media and Communication from the European Graduate School in Switzerland. Born in Great Britain and raised in Tahiti, French Polynesia, she is a former dancer and choreographer specializing in Asia Pacific and Mexican folkloric traditions. Her performances and creative works have been featured at arts, dance, music, cultural and storytelling festivals in the United States and Mexico. Her creativity is nurtured by the stories from her Polynesian ancestry and rich family history, which she shares in narrative memoir poems. Nicola also translates French poetry and philosophy, and researches Ancient Tahitian history, mythology, performance traditions, and ways of knowing to honor the memory of her ancestors. This research focuses on Asia/Pacific and Oceanic philosophy, culture, and performance traditions.

Michael Lambert – Board Member / Past Chair

Michael is originally from New York City and attended Queens College of The City University of New York where he received both his undergraduate (English and Communications) and graduate (Education) degrees. He retired from the Gloversville Enlarged School District in 2016 after 32 years of teaching Special Education and English. Michael’s lifelong interest in mythology led him, in 2002, to an association with the Joseph Campbell Foundation where he currently handles Rights and Permissions. Michael lives in a log cabin in the forest of Greenfield, NY.

Dr. Himanee Gupta-Carlson – Board Member

Himanee Gupta-Carlson is a writer and associate professor at SUNY Empire State College. She grew up in Indiana as the eldest daughter of immigrants from India, and inherited from her large extended family in India passions for natural healing methods, growing healthy foods, and simple flavorful cooking. She serves on the planning committee for the Greenfield Farmers’ Market and as an active volunteer with the Saratoga Farmers’ Market and the Franklin Community Center, where she coordinates a community garden for food pantry clients, a gathering and distribution program of produce from local farmers to the food pantry, and weekly newspaper and newsletter articles on food and farming projects in the greater Saratoga area. Her book Muncie, India(na): Middletown and Asian America is anticipated to be released by the University of Illinois Press in spring 2018, and she currently is working on a second book exploring community connections between Hip Hop philosophies, local food movements and small scale farming. She also raises goats, chickens, ducks, and a wide array of produce with her husband on their farm, Squashville Farm, in Greenfield Center.

Dr. Menoukha Case – Board Member

Menoukha Case lives in the the lush mountainous area between the mid-Hudson and northern-Housatonic Rivers. She studies, teaches, makes art alone and with others, and gardens. She has an MA in Women’s Studies, an MA in creative writing, and a PhD in English, from the University at Albany. She works as an Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies at SUNY Empire State College.

Brian Brumley – Board Member

Chris Martell – Board Member

Mark Oppenneer – Board Member

Mark is a web developer, veteran, storyteller, mythologist, and bread baker. Until 2018 he directed The Ethnos Project (www.ethnosproject.org), a digital humanities research portal and database that explores the cultural impacts of information and communication technologies on traditional cultures. His research interests include Indigenous knowledge management, storytelling and world mythic traditions, and the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. He holds a masters in Communication & Rhetoric and a masters in Liberal Studies (Mythology & Oral Traditions).

Joseph A.E. Joubert – Board Member Emeritus

Joseph A.E. Joubert, known as Elie, is retired from 20 years active U.S. Naval service, with the rank of Command Chief Petty Officer. He received the Navy Achievement Medal awarded by the Secretary of the Navy. Elie served in a variety of Naval ships and stations throughout his career. After retiring, he established an additional career as NYS Division for Youth counselor at Tryon, N.Y., and was also house manager for ARC’s in Amsterdam and Saratoga Springs, NY. He takes exceptional pride in being an Abenaki Indian, born at Odanak Indian Reservation, P.Q., Canada. He also teaches the Abenaki language and culture in New York and New England. He is a very well respected Elder of his tribe and others of the W8banaki Confederation of Tribes.. He is trilingual, speaking French, English and the Abenaki languages.

Carol Bruchac (1942-2011)

Without Carol, we would not have Ndakinna (or for that matter, its Director, James). She was a constant source of guidance, organizational support, and wisdom. Along with her husband, Joe, she was the founder and Co-Director of the Greenfield Review Literary Center from which The Ndakinna Education Center evolved. Her vibrance, caring nature, and dedication to Ndakinna and her family will never be forgotten.