Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Libraries partner with Mohawk art group to offer cultural programming

PLATTSBURGH — The Tsi ietsenhtha Plattsburgh Art Project and North Country libraries are presenting a series of events this fall to help build a bridge between the more than 4,000 Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people who live in Northeastern New York, and those who may be unfamiliar with their rich culture. The events, to be hosted by various local libraries, include storytelling, film, crafts and singing. They are designed to foster communication and understanding of diverse cultures, said Steve Kenworthy, director of the Clinton-Essex Franklin Library System (CEFLS).

“CEFLS is excited to bring these presentations to our three counties,” Kenworthy said. “By sponsoring these programs, libraries foster cultural understanding between diverse populations through education and entertainment.”
Tsi ietsenhtha is the Mohawk name for Plattsburgh, meaning “where one scoops water.” It is also a reminder that the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, were here centuries before Samuel de Champlain “discovered” his namesake lake in 1609.  The Tsi ietsenhtha Art Project is a group of Mohawk and non-Native members which has contributed exhibits and sculpture to public spaces in Plattsburgh, said member Penny Clute. It has also added context and interpretation, from a Haudenosaunee perspective, of the arrival of Champlain and his fellow Europeans.
“The Indigenous people have been poorly and inaccurately represented,” Clute said. “It’s very evident that there is a lot more to know.”

Dannemora Free Library Facebook page photo.

The Haudenosaunee have a sophisticated government, language and culture that are often misunderstood or ignored altogether in American history — to the point that Haudenosaunee people do not always feel welcome in their native land, said Tsi ietsenhtha Art Project and Mohawk member Emily Stacey. Stacey said the library programs will help “open the invisible gate” between the two cultures. “We are more similar than different,” she said. Because Haudenosaunee languages were spoken, not written, history was handed down through art, storytelling and crafts. Among the most striking is the Haudenosaunee Creation Story, which describes how the world was created when Sky Woman fell from the sky. It goes on to tell how a turtle came to hold the world on its back, and North America became known as Turtle Island.
The events will be offered from September through November in an effort to connect them with Indigenous Peoples’ Day (Oct. 10) and Native American Heritage Month in November.
Events in Clinton County were made possible by funds received through the tobacco settlement. The Lake Placid Education Foundation of the Adirondack Foundation funded the programs that will be offered in Franklin and Essex Counties. More events are expected to be announced as they are added to the schedule. Please visit facebook.com/CEFLS or the event calendar at cefls.org for updates. Confirmed events include:

 

Sept. 15 at 4 p.m., Dannemora Free Library: Giving Thanks storytime and crafts hosted by a member of the Mohawk Tribe of the Six Nations.
Sept. 17 at 10 a.m., Chazy Public Library: Giving Thanks storytime and crafts hosted by a member of the Mohawk Tribe of the Six Nations.
Sept. 22 at 10:15 a.m., Peru Free Library: Giving Thanks storytime and crafts hosted by a member of the Mohawk Tribe of the Six Nations.
Sept. 24, time to be determined, Wadhams Free Library hosting at the Adirondack Harvest Festival (Essex County Fairgrounds): The Native North American Travelling College will provide a social with traditional dances and songs.
Oct. 1 at 4 p.m., Tupper Lake Goff-Nelson Memorial Library (Sunset Stage bandshell):Akwesasne Women Singers. Traditional Mohawk music, sharing folk songs and women’s dance verses. In addition, the women will speak about their lives as Onkwehonwe women from Ahkwesahsne.
Oct. 22 at 1 p.m., Mooers Free Library: Akwesasne Women Singers. Traditional Mohawk music, sharing folk songs and women’s dance verses. In addition, the women will speak about their lives as Onkwehonwe women from Ahkwesahsne.
— Oct. 27 at 5:30 p.m., Plattsburgh Public Library: Film Screening of Without a Whisper followed by Q&A with the filmmaker. The film uncovers the hidden history of the profound influence indigenous women had on the beginnings of the women’s rights movement in the United States.
—  Date to be determined, Wead Library in Malone: Perry Ground, Talking Turtle Stories.
Stories from the People of the Longhouse (appropriate for all ages).
—  Date to be determined, Schroon Lake Public Library: Perry Ground, Talking Turtle
Stories.

 

 

CEFLS serves 33 libraries and reading centers in Clinton, Essex, and Franklin Counties through economical resource sharing, continuing education, advocacy, access to comprehensive services, and by serving as a resource for member libraries and their directors.
Photo at top: CEFLS website photo.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com.




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