IACA Journal, Summer 2014 - page 16

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IACA Journal | Summer 2014
the unrivalled foundation of the art form. The
scarcity of raw material raises concerns not
only about the loss of a traditional expression
that has long united family and community,
but the extinction of the vast cultural knowl-
edge that accompanies it.
North of Akwesasne at Kahnawake, inter-
nationally recognized artist Donald “Babe”
Hemlock creates museum quality cradle-
boards that include a myriad of stories and
beliefs that serve as a kind of “community
portrait.” In
Walking in Two Worlds,
Hemlock
honors the generations of Mohawk ironwork-
ers who preceded him and expertly navigated
the precipitous balance between not only sky
and earth, but a life divided between city and
reserve/reservation. In addition to their gift
for carving cradleboards, ironworking is a
skill of which Mohawks rank among the very
best.
Since 1886, when Haudenosaunee men
were first hired to build a bridge over the
St. Lawrence River, generations of Iroquois
have been heavily engaged in ironwork. Most
major construction crews in New York City
featured Haudenosaunee ironworkers on
projects including the George Washington
Bridge, the Empire State Building, the United
Nations, and the World Trade Center. Hem-
lock’s cradleboard is a tangible representation
of the physical, historical, and philosophical
challenges that Haudenosaunee continuously
encounter and the deeply held traditions that
nourish and sustain their commitment to the
future of their nations.
From Six Nations to Santa Fe, Haudenos-
aunee artists continue to do what their people
have done for eons—respect, adapt, and in-
novate. They speak of beauty and sovereignty
in the steadfast maintenance of rich tradi-
tions. They invite all to think about the world
we share. And, armed with a dynamic new
language of communication and connection,
they charge all to live in health, harmony and
peace—an original Haudenosaunee principle
with imperative contemporary applications.
Submitted by Colette Lemmon, Museum Specialist
and Maria Vann, Director (Iroquois Indian Muse-
um). To learn more about the art, beliefs, stories and
traditions of the Haudenosaunee people, visit the
Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, New York
or online at
Walking in Two Worlds,
Donald “Babe”
Hemlock, mixed media, 2012
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