State and local leaders meet to discuss Tribes Hill Heritage Center project


How to help the Tribes Hill Heritage Center achieve it’s grand vision of a multi-building historical, cultural, and educational facility was the topic of discussion for state and local leaders who met at the Montgomery County Business Development conference room in Fonda on Thursday.

The project is spearheaded by founders Marjorie Dacing Wind Heacock and Terrie Robbins. Their vision is to create facility that will be a cultural and economic driver for the region. Heacock gave an overview of the project to over a dozen attenders at the meeting. Current plans call for a variety of buildings to be built on a 49 acre plot of land off of Route 5s in the Town of Florida, just east of the City of Amsterdam. The property is close enough to be connected to the city’s sewer and water system. The organization originally sought to purchase land in Tribes Hill, but abandoned those plans due to zoning issues.

The center plans to construct buildings that will facilitate the teaching of various Native American craft and leather-working skills, shops to sell handmade goods, a restaurant and culinary school, a building to facilitate large events, and spaces to accommodate Native American powwows.

After Heacock’s presentation, much of the discussion centered on how to fund the project. Heacock estimated a total of approximately $34 million to construct all the planned buildings and infrastructure. According to Heacock, the center’s most immediate goal is to purchase the property for $770,000. The center currently has an option to buy the property through June 30.

City of Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa asked how the center would raise funds for the construction. Heacock said it would take a combination of state and federal grants, as well as private donations. According to MCBDC CEO Ken Rose, the center would need to secure approximately 80% of the cost of any project before seeking a grant from the state. County Executive Matt Ossenfort recommended breaking the project down into smaller pieces in order to build the project incrementally.

In regards to funding, United States Department of Agriculture Area Specialist Sanford M. Loucks Baer said, “Getting some really known names, foundations, and groups interested and starting to work towards this and being able to use their resources and their connections, both business, political, and other audiences…is exceptionally important for something like this.”

Elected officials attending the meeting included New York State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbra, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort, District 5 Legislator Daniel Wilson, and City of Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa. Brityany Kolbe, district coordinator for New York State Senator George Amedore was also present. Other officials attending included MCBDC CEO Ken Rose, United States Department of Agriculture Area Specialist Sanford M. Loucks Baer, BBL Construction Services Executive Vice President Jonathan H. deForest, Pyramid Brokerage Company Associate Real Estate Broker Michael Sampone.

For more information about the Tribes Hill Heritage Center, please visit their website at

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.