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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Elizabeth Doxtator
by David Harris Sharpe - The Brant Journal

Elizabeth Doxtator's Encircles Everything is a diorama telling the story of the Great Law of Peace. The diorama is the focal point of Doxtator's Everything Cornhusk Gallery. Every nook and cranny of the small space is packed with Doxtator's cornhusk creations, posters and educational material.

A whole wall of the space tells the Journey of the Peacemaker. Informational cards are provided that explain the episodes of the story. The space is as much a museum as gallery.

Doxtator fills the important role of both preserving and vividly expressing traditional Haudenosaunee culture. "I wanted to study the Great Law and understand it, said Doxtator. "I also wanted to make something to document what I was learning."

A diorama is a model representing a scene with three-dimensional figures. Large-scale dioramas were popular attractions for museums in the nineteenth century. Doxtator's diorama Encircles Everything resembles a stage set in a great outdoor theatre. The cornhusk dolls are the actors in a play directed by Doxtator.

Brant Journal: Why cornhusk dolls?
Doxtator: "I make cornhusk dolls and the dioramas of the stories because I saw old paintings like the Last Supper or the Mona Lisa and I started connecting the dots. We didn't have oil or acrylic paints [Doxtator said about her Haudenosaunee forebears]. If we were going to document our story what would we use? That's where the idea for making these dioramas [using cornhusk dolls] came from."

Brant Journal: How long have you been making cornhusk dolls?
Doxtator: I don't know. A long time, since I was a kid, forever (laughs).

Brant Journal: Where did you learn to make cornhusk dolls?
Doxtator: From my parents. We grew up making all sorts of crafts.

Brant Journal: Your paintings are beautiful. Is that something that is more recent or is that something you've always pursued?
Doxtator: Pursue? I painted. If people needed a prize for a raffle, that kind of thing, I'd whip up a painting, but I got more into it in the last eight years. I'm trying to branch out into different media."

Doxtator seemed amused by my choice of words. Painting is obviously as natural vocation as making cornhusk dolls is for her.

A visit to Doxtator's gallery is worthwhile for anyone interested in learning more about Haudenosaunne culture. Everything Cornhusk is located in the Iroquois Plaza in Ohsweken and is open every Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

"One of the most important events that shaped the Haudenosaunee was the creation of the Gayanesshagowa (gaya-ness-HA-gowa), the Great Law of Peace. It guides the Haudenosaunee through all aspects of life. A full rendition of this epic, which takes several days to tell, reveals the ways in which the Peacemaker's teachings emphasized the power of Reason, not force, to assure the three principles of the Great Law: Righteousness, Justice, and Health. The Great Law of Peace provides the Haudenosaunee people with instructions on how to treat others, directs them on how to maintain a democratic society, and expresses how Reason must prevail in order to preserve peace."

National Museum of the American Indian

Peacemaker and Tsikosaseh

Peacemaker standing behind the council fire is clutching the five bound arrows symbolizing the Five Nations: (east to west) Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca, united as one mind and one head, one heart, and one power.

The belts from left to right are:

The Thatataho Belt represents the fourteen Onondaga chiefs.

The Two Row Wampum (Second belt at Peacemaker's feet) reminds and reaffirms equality between genders and nations.

The Five Nations or Ayonwatha Belt (In Peacemaker's hand).

This belt symbolizes the territories now joined as in 'one longhouse.' This belt is the national belt of the Haudenosaunee. This belt records when the Five Nations buried their weapons of war to live in peace. Each square represents a nation and the line connects each nation in peace.

Dust Wing Fan or Ever Growing Tree Belt (beside fire). Its white roots, have spread out, one to the north, one to the east, one to the west, and one to the south from the Haudenosaunee territory.

Women's Nomination Belt (Held by Tsikosaseh the Mother of Nations/Queen of Peace.) This belt records the rights of nomination given to the women/Clan Mothers.

Dish With One Spoon (In pottery). The hunting lands of the Haudenosaunee are to be shared and there should be no hunting disputes, 'they will have one dish and the food which belongs to no one will belong to all.'


Washing Corn
Fields That Continue

Cornhusk Dolls

Journey of the Peacemaker
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