Online Exhibition

Tsi Kiontahsawen / In the Beginning

The Haudenosaunee Creation Story Told in a Quilt

The Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University is pleased to announce the purchase of an extraordinary quilt by Akwesasne Mohawk artist Iakonikonriiosta. Produced in conjunction with the fall 2020 North Country Art, Land, and Environment Summit, sponsored by SLU’s Arts Collaborative, the quilt illustrates part of the Haudenosaunee Creation Story.

Iakonikonriiosta writes that the quilt depicts “the moment the spiritual Water Birds and Water Animals watched as the Sky Woman, heavy with child, gave thanks and placed primordial soil filled with life onto the Great Turtle’s shell.” The artist also writes, “The One Dish One Spoon wampum belt depicted in the middle of the quilt reminds us that all of Earth’s resources are to be shared by all life, not to be hoarded, not to be fought over, and not to be over used. One takes what is needed and no more, always ensuring that there are resources left for those that follow.”

Measuring 96 x 86 inches and made of cotton, wool, leather, and polyester thread, the quilt was conceptualized and designed by Iakonikonriiosta of Akwesasne Territory and machine-quilted by Robynne Dorion of Cornwall, Ontario.

Iakonikonriiosta is a mother and grandmother of a large family. She currently works at the Akwesasne Museum and quilts as an expression of love and life. She uses her quilts to share her insights, often speaking to gatherings of people interested in art, quilts, or indigenous culture.

Gallery Director Catherine Tedford states that the quilt is one of the most significant art acquisitions in the 30 years she has worked at St. Lawrence and an excellent example of Haudenosaunee culture represented artistically using innovative sewing techniques. The quilt will be displayed on campus to be shared with the community and to be used for teaching and research.


Artist’s Statement