Presentation at The Rockwell Museum*
Part of a two-week juried series called Bare Bones Café
Sunday, May 6, 3:30-4:30 PM
A matrilineal way-of-life is one in which women and men are equal and share power equally, often in different spheres. Women pass on the lineage, name and clan to their children and are in charge of the all things having to do with the earth including agriculture and wildcrafting. Men represent the tribe to the external world. You can imagine how Europeans were confused by this when it came to land use and treaties with native American chiefs.
Three women who have been interacting with or living inside a matrilineal culture will be presenting the program for their audience’s consideration: Sally Roesch Wagner of Syracuse, Ronnie Reitter of Victor and Destiny Kinal of Waverly, NY.
Sally Roesch Wagner’s book, Sisters in Spirit, documents the influence Haudenosaunee way-of-life had on our early women’s rights foremothers—Gage, Anthony and Stanton. Roesch Wagner’s book is largely responsible for a growing awareness of the international women’s movement’s debt to the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois women. A professor at Syracuse University and Founder/Executive Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in Fayetteville NY, Roesch Wagner will be introducing a new suffrage anthology to be published by Penguin Classics in February 2019, foreward by Gloria Steinem.
Sally will be joined by Ronnie Reitter (photo at right), a Seneca seamstress, cornhusk doll maker and storyteller who recently retired from Ganondagan, the cultural center in Victor, NY that interprets the traditional way-of-life for young native people and for visitors from European, African and Asian lineages who consider themselves allies or are learning about this native American way-of-life. Reitter worked at Rochester Museum and Science Center for 4 years before being recruited to be Peter Jemison’s assistant at Ganondagan for the past 17 years. Reitter will comment on what matrilineality looks like from the inside and speak about the stresses the outside world puts on the tradition.
Destiny Kinal will facilitate the conversation. Author of the Textile Trilogy, a series of novels that examines daily life in the 19th century here in the east, places Roesch Wagner’s findings in novel form on-the-ground. As two families—one native, based loosely on the Montour family and one French Huguenot silkmakers—begin to operate as one family metis, tensions between their values and practices begin to test them. While the first books Burning Silk (2010) and Linen Shroud (October 2017) are released, the Textile Trilogy will conclude with Oil & Water, set on the planet’s first oil fields in Western New York/Pennsylvania.
A reception will be hosted immediately following the event at Soul Full Cup, 81 West Market Street, Corning, NY. The Rockwell conversation with the three women will continue informally and refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome. Books can be purchased and signed and a selection of Ronnie Reitter’s hand crafted pieces and cornhusk dolls can be seen on display. The books will continue to be sold at Card Carrying Books at 15 East Market Street in Corning, as well as Riverow Bookstore in Owego and other bookstores in Ithaca.
*The Rockwell Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, presents Bare Bones Café – a community-sourced museum experience. 2018 marks the 125th birthday of the Museum’s home, Old City Hall in Corning. To celebrate, artists and performers from the greater Corning community have been invited to use an empty gallery as their laboratory and creative gathering place, April 27 – May 12, 2018. At the heart of this pop-up gallery is a challenge – how can an artist present their vision with only bare bones staging? The Rockwell provides the space and limited equipment – the artist brings the space to life.
Bare Bones Café is a museum experience included with regular admission prices and open to any visitors of the Museum. A short-term “bare bones” membership may be purchased for those wishing to attend throughout the entire program. Coffee, tea, and refreshments will be available to guests as part of the experience.
Find the full schedule of events at rockwellmuseum.org/bare-bones.
Housed in The Rockwell’s permanent collection is a new gallery dedicated to Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) art and culture.
Haudenosaunee, which translates to The People of the Longhouse, refers to the six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy—Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Tuscarora, and Mohawk. This gallery at The Rockwell features a blend of art and objects of material culture of many different Nations, from pre-contact tools to 19th-century clothes, toys, dolls, baskets and bowls, as well as contemporary fine art by artists including Shelley Niro, Peter Jemison and Richard Glazer-Danay.
For more information about this stunning exhibit visit The Rockwell Museum website.
Sex, Time and Prophecy: why women evolved to envision and how that learned ability can lead us toward a livable future
Prophecy is the ability to learn from time.
Social scientists and anthropologists Leonard Shlain, Helen Fisher and Marija Gimbutas have reconstructed the importance of women in how the human species has evolved to this moment.
Men who have been raised by feminist mothers to be nurturing are sharing the work of living equally with their female partners.
Evidence shows that before the sky gods installed their patriarchies starting about 6000 years ago, which despise women and people of color, we were matrilineal people with both genders sharing power and responsibilities, often with different roles. We live beside the Haudenosaunee and Lenape who have lived a matrilineal way-of-life–where men and women are equal–for time past remembering. In a matrilineal community, Mother Earth, the co-equal of Father Sun, is revered as a source of power and human communities reflect this reverence and respect.
Now that we find ourselves in a cul de sac, with petroleum products poisoning everything that is alive, and Earth herself being seen as dead, her resources objects for exploitation, it is our privilege and solemn responsibility to take the lessons of deep time as building blocks for a livable future.
Those of us who CAN see, see that we must focus, not on dystopian prophecy, but on restoration and return to a positive and sustainable life. People despair: everything is made of plastic, we are engaged in perpetual war, women are still despised and people of color persecuted. But we evolved in the past 12000 years in small, agricultural, craft-based communities. Surely this is our comfort zone. Quite possibly the elements of reconstruction can be found in the way we evolved recently to marry with the best of modernity to construct a livable future for all species.
We are surrounded by farmland and our region—the Twin Tiers of NY and PA and Finger Lakes abutting the Great Lakes, a region that neatly fits inside the Longhouse Bioregion defined by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy—is rich with craftspeople.
But our communities are riven, no longer operating fully as communities. The history of industrialization and rampant consumerism, together with other factors have resulted in a poverty line that includes almost half of the population.
There is repair work to be done. The role of indigenous neighbors who have lived on this continent for millennia will be important.
Our salon will begin with Destiny Kinal delivering her thoughts for our consideration. The salon will continue with individuals in the audience offering their thoughts. Open discussion will ensue.
The proceedings will be recorded and edited and a transcript will be available for those who weren’t able to attend. Possibly a structure for continuing the inquiry, like a study group, will form to continue the inquiry into a livable future in the Twin Tiers/Finger Lakes/Great Lakes region.
Part of the Original Work series at Community Arts of Elmira
Original Work is a series that celebrates original work of poetry, prose and songwriting through featured artist readings and performances. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments are available.
Considering Matrilineality: an alternative to patriarchy
In New York State, we are privileged to live with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Nation as neighbors. They, and others like the Lenape, have been matrilineal for untold time; a way of life where men and women share power equally, sometimes in different spheres.
Now that the origin of the three sky god religions that brought the subjugation of women to our world (Judaism, Islam, Christianity), has been described and understood, it is time to reinstate an equal reverence for both male and female principles. The exploitation of Mother Earth is consistent with the exploitation of women and people of color. Enough is enough!