All My Relations: A Seneca History


Posted By Toyacoyah Brown September 22nd, 2014 Blog

If you're in the Chicago area, you don't want to miss out on this unique collaboration!

The Mitchell Museum is pleased to announce its latest exhibit opening, “All My Relations: A Seneca History” in collaboration with visual artist and dancer Rosy Simas (Seneca). The exhibit will introduce the history of the Seneca culture through milestones in the lives of Ms. Simas and her relations. It will display traditional and modern Seneca artifacts, which over the span of generations, represent the intimate themes of loss, connection and resilience by Ms. Simas and her tribal connection.

Photo by JB Gelle / The Dance Center

Photo by JB Gelle / The Dance Center

The recorded maternal lineage of Ms. Simas extends back to Cornplanter (1750-1836), the distinct War Chief of the Seneca tribe during the time the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794 (a land treaty) was signed by George Washington. Materials from Simas’ grandmother tell of growing up on the reservation, attending boarding school, relocation to urban centers, and the American Indian Movement. Historical maps and unique artifacts including a Seneca basket made by famous artist Nettie Watt will be on display. Video segments highlight the Seneca thirty-year protest to keep Cornplanter’s land from the flooding of the Kinzua Dam erected 50 years ago. The loss of the land during this part of Ms. Simas’ story evolved into her artistic modern dance now touring the United States.

“This installation is the first I have ever made,” said Ms. Simas. “I am primarily a dance maker. My work investigates how culture, history, home and identity are stored in the body and can be expressed in movement.”

The exhibit opens on Saturday, September 27. A curator tour will take place at 11 am, followed by an artist talk with Rosy Simas at 2:00 pm entitled “Transforming a Family History into Dance.” The talk is $10 for members and $12 for non-members. Call (847) 475-1030 or visit www.mitchellmuseum.org for more information.

Photo by Douglas Bealsey / The Dance Center

Photo by Douglas Bealsey / The Dance Center

On October 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00 pm, Ms. Simas will perform “We Wait in the Darkness” presented by The Dance Center at Columbia College in Chicago. The performance is in correlation to the Mitchell Museum exhibit, and is based on her Seneca heritage and the ways ancestry, homeland, culture and history are stored in the body and expressed in movement. Discount tickets are available for visitors that attend both the exhibit at the museum and The Dance Center performance. For more information about “We Wait in the Darkness,” please visit colum.edu/dancecenterpresents.

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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