SIX NATIONS – While not professing to be an expert in studying the Great Law, local author and business owner Elizabeth ‘Betts’ Doxtater launched her new book at a joint book launch last week with her friend and fellow author Sara General, who launched a book of her own titled Sprit and Intent.
Doxtater’s book titled Art of Peace is a personal, honest and heartfelt reflection on what the Great Law means to her and how it continues to actively play a role in her life journey; General’s book is a collection of her own short stories and other writings. While unrelated at a glance, the two books share some of the same core values.
“It wasn’t intentional at all, but my book and Sara’s both talk about the same character a few times,” said Doxtater. “It kind of worked out really well and that’s part of why we decided to launch the books together.”
The books were launched at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford on Friday, November 25 where friends, family and colleagues heard a synopsis of each book and had the chance to meet the authors and have their books signed.
“I don’t want people to think that I think I’m an expert in the Great Law now,” she said. “I’m not an elder, I’m not a historian, this is just me sharing what I’ve learned learned for myself and what has worked for me.”
Doxtater said she was in a very bad car accident roughly 10 years ago and while she was healing she really drew near to the teachings.
“I was always told that everything you need is found within the Great Law,” she said. “It’s something that I always knew and had been implanted in my brain since I was very young, but it didn’t really mean anything. So I thought, well, if it’s really true, then let’s try and figure out how to use it.”
She draws the connection to a bottle of Tylenol: “It’s like buying a bottle of Tylenol, we all know what it does, but if we don’t read the bottle and find out how to effectively use it, by taking one every two hours, it’s useless.”
Doxtater begins her book with an apology of sorts to the ancestors.
“I feel the need to apologize for not having my Native language,” the introduction reads. She knows she has had the resources and some time to study the language in order to attain a reasonable level of fluency and she has not used those resources efficiently and she wishes she could say the opposite.
“Those of us who are non-speakers may share the same appreciation for the dilemma that we face as we try to learn the teachings in a foreign language, English.”
She titled her book Art of Peace because it is art, based on the teachings of peace, and her book deals with topics like; decolonizing; mixing the old and the new; identifying trauma; words of thanksgiving; and more.
Doxtater, the owner of “Everything Cornhusk”, a corn husk doll and art store in Ohsweken, also retells a version of the Great Law and the story of the Peacemaker using the medium of cornhusk in her book. The book showcases an installation of more than 100 cornhusk dolls representing the 50 Haudenosaunee chiefs and clan mothers, along with the historical figures; the Peacemaker; Tsikonhsase; Thatataho; and Ayonwatha.
“I did my best,” she said. “And you don’t have to agree with it — or even read it — it’s just that this book was important for me to write, for myself, and for some of the people who have shown interest in my thoughts and what I was researching.”