Three Sisters Brooches
Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Knowledge Translation through Beadwork
Student in the Faculty of Education, York University
My name is Kahsenniyohstha Lauren Williams. I am Kanyen’kehá:ka turtle clan. I was born in Toronto, Ontario, and my family comes from Six Nations, Ontario.
I created three brooches to represent each of the Three Sisters, corn, beans, and squash. I included the bean and squash flowers, to remind us of the beauty of their life cycles. These plants provide our delicious nutritional sustenance—Tyonnhéhkhwen, and also bring beauty to our senses with their fresh smells, beautiful colours, the gentle rustling sounds of their leaves in the wind, and the way those leaves brush our legs and shoulders in the garden, reminding us of our relationship and responsibilities to lovingly care for one another.
Ryan DeCaire’s essay reminds me of the ancient relationship my family and ancestors have had with corn, beans, and squash, in loving gratitude and reciprocity that continues in Haudenosaunee gardens and ceremonies to this day. This deep love literally begins at ground level, and will help our communities heal by supporting revitalizing our culture through relationship with the land, language, and growing our sustenance.
As I was sketching these designs, I drew upon teachings the Haudenosaunee Creation story, when these plants first grew on Earth from the body of Skywoman’s daughter. I drew upon teachings of how these plants grow well together as sisters, in reciprocal relationship with one another, each with their unique gifts, purpose, and beauty in each stage of their life cycles. I chose to bead brooches so these stories and reminders can be worn close to the heart, as an inspiration to continue sharing these stories, and loving and honouring our plant relatives.
Beadwork is an important medium for me to express myself creatively and find a peaceful place. I find the regular rhythm of picking up beads and pulling the thread calming, and it keeps my hands busy while my mind is free to listen or think of other things. I am inspired to bead by the intergenerational love of so many skilled beaders who continue to share their skills with new learners.