iiši-kiišihenciki minohsayaki ‘How They Were Created’

Interpretation by Scott Shoemaker

Historically, the painting of hides with geometric and abstract designs is not limited to Myaamia or Inohka communities and can be seen in many forms throughout much of the eastern half of North America. There is no doubt influence from those who were our neighbors, namely other Algonquian speaking relatives and Chiwere and Dhegiha Siouan speakers. These painted hides were part of a much larger and broader visual vocabulary. Perhaps the most well known of these traditions comes from the Innu of what is now Canada. Artists from these communities employ a plethora of special bone tools and templates to paint exquisitely precise and visually stunning designs using various pigments. Based upon the consistency of the patterns on this minohsaya, I am almost certain that similar types of tools and templates were used in the making of this particular one as well as a very similar one that was likely made by the same artist using the same tools and palette. Rather than providing answers, this minohsaya raises many more questions. It makes me curious about the relation of the artists to the acquirement of the hide and its processing. How and from where were the pigments obtained? Perhaps the most important question is how did the artist acquire the knowledge and the right to make minohsayaki?

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