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]
Brant Journal: How long have you been making
Doxtator: I don't know. A long time, since I was a kid,
Brant Journal: Where did you learn to make
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
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
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
National Museum of the American Indian
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