A Celebration of Iroquois Culture through Art

This Fall, some libraries in the Adirondacks are hosting events with the Tsi itsenhtha Plattsburgh Art Project to celebrate and educate the local non-indigenous population of Iroquois culture. The Tsi itsenhtha Plattsburgh Art project consists of both Iroquois and non-Native members, and at the libraries, they will host events that include crafts, singing, storytelling, and film-screening. These events are taking place from September through November to correspond with Indigenous People’s day on October 10th and because November is Native American Heritage Month. Actual event dates are listed at the end of this Adirondack Almanack article.

This project aims to connect the current indigenous population of the Adirondacks (around 4000) and the non-indigenous residents together, along with educate the general population of Iroquois history and culture in the ADKs. The local libraries support the project because it allows the community to learn about a generally erased population from Adirondack history and to support the local libraries.

An poster for the September 15th event at Dannemora Free Library

In the Mohawk language, Tsi itsenhtha is “where one scoops water,” or the original name for Plattsburgh. The name Tsi itsenhtha Plattsburgh Art Project bridges both the Mohawk and English names of the area, which symbolizes the goal of the project. One story that will be told during the event is the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Creation Story. For the Iroquois, the creation of the world occurred when “Sky Woman” fell from the sky (their previous home since there was no world). Through the help of animals such as swans, otters, muskrats, beavers, and a Great Turtle. This Great Turtle ultimately carried the world on its back and helped create the natural world we experience. Through their creation story, the Iroquois demonstrate their positive relationship toward animals, as they believe animals were crucial toward the creation of the world around them.

The Tsi itsenhtha Plattsburgh Art Project reminds me that while much of indigenous history and culture has been erased from Adirondack history, there are many people today that want to both be informed of others’ values and beliefs and allow for new historical perspectives. If I were able, I would love to visit one of these events this Fall.

4 thoughts on “A Celebration of Iroquois Culture through Art

  1. That’s awesome! Collective efforts to re-ignite the life of indigenous history and culture give me hope for a future in which colonialism doesn’t dominate the world. Also, the idea that animals were crucial to the creation of the world around them reminds me so much of our reading for today and this week of ecology in general. They really thought about the inner workings and interdependence of all life in nature! Maybe they were the first ecologists on the planet.

  2. I loved your post! I agree, I would love to attend one of these events this fall. I support the spirit of indigenous and non-indigenous people working together on a project that celebrates the region’s culture and history.

  3. Thanks for sharing! The Iroquois creation story is unlike any I’ve heard before. It gives a lot of great insight into their culture and how important nature is to them. I hope we have a chance to learn more about the Iroquois during our field trip!!!

  4. I was looking back through old blog posts to see if anyone had blogged about art, as Heather and I are doing our final project on the artist Winslow Homer. While the museum we visited had a gallery under construction, I was under the assumption that most artworks in Adirondack museums are from white artists. This was very exciting to see that more indigenous work was being celebrated in the ADKs.

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