Authentic insight to Haudenosaunee life through Corn Husk Dolls

Vistors to Six Nations of the Grand River checking into the Six Nations Tourism building are being introduced to the Confederacy of Chiefs, the Gei: Niwage and other aspects of authentic Haudenosaunee culture via the beautiful work of Six Nations Corn Husk Doll maker Betts Doxtator.

Doxtator’s epic work “Encircling Everything” depicting the confederation of the 50 Haudenosaunee Chiefs and 49 Clanmothers of the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga and Seneca is now on display at the Six Nations tourism building for those visitors looking for insight into what it means to be a Haudenosaunee.

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“This will set the tone when visitors come to the community.” said Connie Jamieson, Manager at Six Nations Tourism. The new display is part of an initiative within Six Nations to bring together local artisans to put together a hub of authentic talents and stories respecting cultural protocols within Six Nations to properly put forward the story of Haudenosaunee history and life to date for visitors travelling to the territory.

The tradition of corn husk doll making runs deep in Haudenosaunee traditions. Doxtator previously shared the legend of the Corn Husk Doll saying, “She was instructed to play with all the children and keep them entertained. She traveled to many villages and the children loved her. Many people would comment on her beauty. Soon the doll forgot about her duties and spent long hours by the water, admiring her reflection. Her face was removed to remind the people to remain humble and not to become obsessed with appearance, as true beauty is found in fulfilling your commitments. To this day, the cornhusk doll remains faceless.”’

Doxtator’s work at the Tourism building also includes the use of cornhusk dolls depicting the scenes of the Four Ceremonies that mark the Haudenosaunee ceremonial calendar.

“We want to do more for the school boards, our own and abroad so they come here and they know the story and then they can see [the community].” said Jamieson. Jamieson said that Tourism is also seeking other local artisans who would be interested in participating in forming that new display who might not have a gallery space to show their own work and host tour buses. “We would be the avenue, almost like a co-op.” Jamieson said it is a good opportunity to highlight the work of local artisans doing authentic works while Tourism assist with things like marketing and advertising.

Jamieson said that the new display will be in place for a year and that any other artists interested in sharing their talents and works to form the educational display can contact Tourism for more information.

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