For years there has stood a plane of glass in a quiet museum rooms between us Rotinonshonni people and our wampum belts. As a fledging loomer and story-collector, I produce historic and contemporary wampum belts which are meant to be handled and investigated as living documents containing our most precious words, stories and experiences.

Dalton LaBarge

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Dalton LaBarge (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe), 32, is a Kanienke’ha 2nd language speaker from the Tehanakarine Bear Clan Family. The LaBarge Family is especially involved in their tribal community, and often supports traditional community events by providing free program supplies. Dalton volunteers for the Akwesasne Mohawk Freedom School and makes traditional wampum belts for community speakers and teachers. He began apprenticing under expert wampum artist Hasewedonih, in October 2022 and has since completed 5 historical reproduction belts, and 5 contemporary belts. For Dalton, his craft provides time for quiet reflection, new perspective, and connection to his ancestors. Currently, Dalton is attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and will obtain his M.D in May 2023.

Dalton’s Dream is to reconnect Rotinonshonni people with each other, their land and culture by producing wampum belts that speak to the important issues brought up by Land Back efforts. Specially these belts will promote thought and discussion on: how communities must reimagine what stewardship of traditional lands will look like in the modern world; how personal and tribal livelihood and sovereignty is inherently linked to the land; how best to reclaim, protect, and reverse effects of climate change on the land. He is passionate about making wampum belts accessible to contemporary Native people, and plans to use his belts as hands on teaching tools, and sharing them with other Rotinonshonni people.

“Art takes things we might experience narrowly in our lives and opens up space for multiple interpretations- which ultimately brings about discussions, learning and more robust understanding of how we relate to one another. Through art we can find beauty in the difficult and quiet reflection within a world that often feels fast-paces, chaotic, and overwhelming. “

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