Unknown Haudenosaunee artist
Human Figure Effigy, c.1600-1650
Unknown Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) artist
Ball-Headed Club, 18th century
I saw a similar club in the National Gallery of Canada once and they look like they’d really hurt to get whacked with.
Ernest Smith, Sky Woman, 1936
Smith is an Iroquois (Seneca) artist who uses a Western painting style to illustrate the traditional beliefs and culture of his band. This work, depicting the creation story of Sky Woman’s fall to Turtle Island, is one part of a large series Smith created for the Works Progess Administration project.
Jeff Thomas, The Delegate Visits Indian Battle Park, 2008
This work is from Thomas’ Indians on Tour series. On his website he explains:
“The Indians on Tour series expands on the street photographer aesthetic, but from a First-Nations perspective. Would that tradition expand or stay the same? I realized that it could not stay the same if I was going to be able to address the urban Aboriginal experience. The series began to take shape after I received a box in the mail from my friend Ali Kazimi. Inside was a set of plastic Indian figures with a note suggesting that I would find something interesting to do with them. Bear [Thomas’ son] had just moved to the British Columbia and I was left without my muse. I began experimenting with the toy Indians by posing them in my everyday world to see what would happen.”
Unknown Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) artists
Beaded Whimsies, c. late 19th - early 20th centuries
Beaded Iroquois souvenirs, often known as whimsies, were popular as tourist wares in the 19th century and provided a bit of subsistence for those who lost their traditional way of life. Mohawks living around the area of Niagara Falls became particularly famous for their work and it was likely a Mohawk hand that created the above pieces.
These works are interesting since they show a mixture of First Nations and Victorian influences in their design, a result of the artists adapting to the colonial influences that now made up their reality.
Read More: Dolores Elliot, “Iroquois Beadwork: A Haudenosaunee Tradition and Art”, (2002) In Preserving Tradition and Understanding the Past: Papers from the Conference on Iroquois Research, 2001–2005
Eugène Étienne Taché
Study for an Illustration (Jesuit Being Killed by Iroquois), c.1858-1912
The Iroquois is a Highly Developed Matriarchal Society, 1992
Mohawks in Beehives series
From Larry Abbott
Another hand-colored photograph in this series is “The Iroquois Is a Highly Developed Matriarchal Society.” The triptych reveals the photographer’s smiling mother in her kitchen beneath a hair dryer. On the surface it is a playful image of the simple dailiness of living. Her mother is caught au naturel, unposed. The shots are framed on black mat, into which are inscribed Iroquoian beadwork symbols. This triptych in particular stands deliberately at odds with Edward Curtis’ and others’ depiction of “the Native,” which generally portrayed the Indian unnaturally, a reflection of the photographers’ needs and preconceptions.
Beyond this, though, the photograph raises questions about certain aspects of contemporary Iroquois life. On one hand, Niro has written that the photograph “is a play on anthropological notions. It is one of those sentences that I have heard all my life. I wanted to make fun of the acceptance of what other people say about the society that I come from.”
However, she goes on to write:
“Since I come from a reserve where domestic violence is high, I wanted to ask, “If we are a matriarchal society why does all this violence happen? Why doesn’t anyone put a stop to it and really make our society a matriarchal society?”