2017 Symposium on Woodland Indian Material Culture & Art

Friday, October 20th & Saturday, October 21st 

“Our goal is to promote the appreciation of, and to facilitate better understanding of woodland Indian art

and material culture; both in a historic context as well as a modern cultural tradition”


Keynote Speaker

Jolene Rickard Ph.D. (Tuscarora Nation) - Associate Professor, Cornell University, Departments of History of Art and Visual Studies and Art, and Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program
Indigenous Objects / Objections as Cross Cultural Interlocutors
Materials will be considered as willful agents within artistic processes across key moments in history marking Indigenous place, space, bodies and land. The introduction of multiple modernities structures the shift from art historical framings of form over matter and connoisseurship to viewing materiality as an active process that continues to map larger social processes and transformation.


Michael Galban (Mono Lake Paiute/Washoe) – Curator and Interpretive Programs Assistant - Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan. 
The Last Quilled Bag Left in America
Native American objects from colonial New York are few and far between. Dated and well documented objects are even more scarce. A small, non-descript porcupine quill decorated bag in the Museum of the City of New York has a big story to tell. Art, trade, innovation and history are interwoven stories unveiled when we begin to look at this unique object. 

Alan D. GutchessDirector of the Fort Pitt Museum.
Brass Tacks & Curious Figures: American Indian Powder Horns
With the widespread introduction of firearms into American Indian cultures came the need for an efficient container for the gunpowder used to fire them.  Like Euro-Americans, most Natives found the horns of cattle and bison to the best option available.  This presentation will examine the acquisition, use, and decoration of powder horns by Native Americans.   

Kurt A. Jordan- Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Indian and Indigenous Studies, Cornell University
Haudenosaunee Manufacture and Use of Red Stone during the Peak Era, circa 1650-1750
This presentation reviews Haudenosaunee creation and use of red pipestone and red slate objects, incorporating archaeological information and recent sourcing studies.  Red Stone was used to create beads, pendants, effigies, and smoking pipe bowls. I emphasize Onöndowa'ga:' (Seneca) information during the peak period of Haudenosaunee red stone usage between circa 1650 and 1750.  Although red pipestone and red slate have very different levels of workability, come from geographically separate sources, and required connections with distinct sets of trade partners, they ended up being used in many ways for similar purposes.  Variations in the level of pipestone and slate use and the amount of manufacturing that took place in Onöndowa'ga:' territory appear to be closely related to the state of alliances and the level of military conflict.

Mindy Magyar (Mi'kmaq)-  Assistant Professor, Industrial Design, Rochester Institute of Technology
An Indigenous Industrial Designer’s Perspective on Micmac Souvenirs
By evaluating Micmac souvenirs of the Victorian Era through the contemporary lens of Design, an Indigenous Industrial Designer highlights the creativity of the objects’ makers as well as their influence on her studio practice.

Scott Manning Stevens, Ph.D. (Akwesasne Mohawk Nation)- Associate Professor, Director of Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, Syracuse University
Tomahawk: From Trade Good to Cultural Icon
This paper considers the powerful cultural associations created by Euro-American settlers around the tomahawk. I demonstrate where this is particularly true as regards to Haudenosaunee culture in the setter imaginary.  I will review both the history of actual tomahawks and analyze their appearance in the art and literature from the Colonial Era to the period of the Early Public.

Dr. Nikolaus Stolleauthor, Talking Beads – The History of Wampum as a Value and Knowledge Bearer, From its Very First Beginnings Until Today
Difficulties of identification: Mohawk, Kanienkehaka, knife sheaths before 1800
Little research on material culture before 1850 has been done, and most statements need further investigation. The paper will be dealing on neck and belt worn knife sheath from indigenous eastern North America. In the 18th century two different types were used, the neck worn and belt worn sheath. Most preserved knife cases are highly decorated with porcupine quills and sometimes glass beads.

Event Registration

Register now!

Register online by pressing the link or call and register by phone at (585)742-1690

Early Bird Registration $80.00 until 10/06/17

Early Bird Member* Registration $70.00 until 10/06/17

Regular Registration $100.00

Regular Member* Registration $90.00 


Registration includes continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday 10/21/17

*Members who did not receive a promotional code please call (585)742-1690


Friday October 20th
4:00 PM   Registration opens
6:00 PM   Light Refreshments in the auditorium 
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM   Welcome & keynote speaker – Jolene Rickard (Cornell University)
Saturday October 21st 
8:30 AM   Registration opens
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM   Continental Breakfast
9:00 AM   Welcome & Opening Address 
9:15 AM – 10:15 AM   Kurt Jordan (Cornell University)
10:15 AM – 11:15 AM   Michael Galban (Seneca Art & Culture Center)
11:15 AM – 11:30 AM   Morning Break
11:30 AM– 12:30 PM   Scott Manning Stevens (Syracuse University)
12:30 PM – 1:15 PM   Lunch & opportunity to visit the Bark Longhouse, Gallery, Gift Shop, or see the Iroquois Creation Story Film
1:15 PM– 2:15 PM   Alan Gutchess (Fort Pitt Museum)
2:15 PM – 3:15 PM   Mindy Magyar (RIT) 
3:15 PM -3:30 PM   Afternoon Break
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM   Nikolaus Stolle (Author)

This event was made possible by the generous support of the Rochester Area Community Foundation