Mohawk art exhibit opens at the Tahawus Lodge

Mohawk artist Towanna Miller discusses one of her paintings.

Mohawk artist Towanna Miller discusses one of her paintings. Photo by Shaun Kittle.

— The “Mohawk of the Adirondacks” art exhibit opened Sept. 21 with a prayer.

Everyone at the Tahawus Lodge Center in Au Sable Forks went silent as Barbara Little Bear, of the Bear Clan, gave thanks.

Thanks to all of the people of the Earth, and to the small water, the rain, and the oceans.

Thanks to all the roots and medicines that come from the ground and support everything that lives on the Earth, and to the three sisters: corn, beans and squash.

Thanks to the flowers and grasses and to the strawberries, the heart of Mother Earth.

Little Bear recited the prayer in her people’s native tongue, a language her grandmother forbade her to speak as a child for fear she’d be persecuted.

As an adult, Little Bear learned the language so she can communicate with her ancestors after she dies.

Tradition and ancestory are prevalent in the artwork on display, and the colors—vibrant autumn reds and yellows, deep blues and greens, and earth-tone shades of brown and gray—invoke images of the Adirondack wilderness.

The six featured Mohawk artists—Cheyanne Doxtator, Star Horn, Barbara Little Bear, Towanna Miller, Kakwirakeron R. Montour and Natasha Smoke Santiago—also utilize an array of mediums in their work, including soapstone sculpture, beadwork, pottery, jewelry, drawing, moose hair tufting and painting.

“The theme I wanted here is to show how the Mohawk are tied to this area,” said Margaret Horn, the exhibition’s curator. “It’s a bigger objective of trying to reintroduce Mohawk culture.”

Horn chose the artists and the work on display, and is hoping the exhibit can encourage a dialog about her people.

“I’ve lived in Jay with my son and my granddaughter and there is nothing in this whole region that I can identify as a Mohawk group,” Horn said. “We were originally from this area.”

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