This public art project acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the opening of the St-Lawrence Seaway. It was conceived, organized and curated by my friend and colleague, Ryan Rice, under the auspices of Nation to Nation. Ryan commissioned two artists, Sondra Cross and myself, to create panels that would speak to the history of the relationships Kahnawake Mohawks had with the St. Lawrence River.  Each panel would be placed at a significant site in the community.

I chose the site behind St. Francis-Xavier mission –the Catholic church in which I, my mother, and my grandparents were baptized.  Nor did I forget the countless relatives and ancestors who went to mass, were married, prayed, sang, confessed their sins, and wept at funerals there. It is also the place where the remains of Kateri Tekakwitha are enshrined.

I chose to depict the relationships through several stories and mediums. A drawing illustrates the legend of the dogs who protect the people from the monster that is said to live in the river. The beaded Kateri pin accompanies the story of her journey to Kahnawake. And photographs depict various activities that took place at the water’s edge before reserve land was expropriated for the building of the Seaway. The photos of opening day were taken by my mother.

Created in 2007, the panel, unfortunately, has not survived. However, thanks to the wonders of digital media, it is viewable here. Use the scroll bars to see it at its actual size, or you can zoom out to see the whole thing. There is also a FaceBook page for the project.