Cocktails with C.Jane

I met Jane in my first year of Grad school. In the time that I’ve gotten to know her, she is one of the kindest, smartest, and most talented people I know. She is part Settler Canadian (German) and indigenous (Mohawk) and through her beadwork, she engages in an important and sacred part of indigenous culture.  Including her work as part of Cocktails with: has been an honour and I’m really excited to share it with you

Cocktails and Ambition| Haudenoshordy

Meet Jane

khwekhwe, yónkyats Courtney Jane. Kanyen’kéha:ka nywakonhwentsyò:ten. Ohswé:ken nytewaké:non.

Hello, I’m Courtney Jane. I’m mohawk nation from six nations of the grand river

When did you start beading and why?

I started beading very recently, around February or March of last year. When I moved to Ottawa, I found it very isolating so, I wanted to go somewhere that would have other indigenous people and found an indigenous art market. They happened to be hosting a beading workshop and decided to try the workshop and I’ve stuck with it ever since. 

How did you come up with the name “Haudenoshordy”?

The name is a pun on the word “shorty”  like, “ yo shorty was up” and Haudenosaunee which is Six Nations. Merging the words was also is inspired by the Anishinaabe nation and their Instagram handle, Anishabae. I always thought that was cute and wanted to do a similar play on words.

Are you mostly self-taught? Did you learn from family members?

I would say it’s a mix, I learned from Auntie’s and elders in Ottawa. The first-ever moccasin I made an indigenous woman from Etsy taught me and my auntie has taught me most things about moccasins, and beading on moccasins.  There’s also a bit of trial and error in the process. So, my learning has been collaboration and I owe a lot of it to other people. 

What is the significance of beadwork and beading to indigenous cultures

It means different things to different people depending on your nation, your community, etc. But from myself, we consider it medicine so traditionally you would not be under the influence when you’re beading.  You would be in a good mindset because how you’re feeling when you bead goes into your beadwork. So, in that sense, it’s very healing.

 Beading is also like a connection to your family members because people will have specific symbols or styles or patterns that are specific to their families, their clans, their nations, or their communities. So it’s a way to keep in touch with your loved ones, your ancestors, and it’s also a way to make connections with other people. I’ve met a lot of people from different nations and different parts of Canada (Turtle Island) through beading.

What is a unique signifier of Haudenosaunee beadwork?

There’s traditional beadwork which people use that term when they’re referring to beadwork that would be more common pre colonialism. And then there’s contemporary or modern beadwork. So in terms of contemporary or modern beadwork, there’s not always much difference by nation sometimes it’s just a person’s individual style. But, traditionally Haudenosaunee beadwork is raised beadwork. A lot of other nations will bead flat to the surface that they’re beading, However, when you do raised beadwork you purposefully keep it raised. For instance,  a rope stitch would be two raised lines of beads wrapping around each other to look like the weave on a rope and that is what we are known for.

Cocktails and Ambition| Haudenoshordy beadwork

How do you keep culture and ceremony alive while adding your own artistic touch?

I would say that it’s different for everyone. Some people when they’re doing contemporary work will literally blend in traditional aspects. They will do traditional patterns or bead styles, but with contemporary imagery, for instance, if you did raised beadwork of a character from Bob’s Burgers. For the most part, that’s not my beadwork. Occasionally I do traditional work, but it’s mostly just straight, traditional or straight, contemporary.

 I would also add that it’s not always the product that is traditional,  It’s the journey and the process. It’s your intention when you’re beading, but it’s also the fact that regardless of what you bead, the techniques you use to bead are learned and passed down from your ancestors. So even if you are beading a spaceship, you wouldn’t be able to do that without the traditions of your ancestors.

When people come across your work what would you like them to get from it?

I would want them to realize that Indigenous people exist. We’re not stuck in the past, we are still creating beautiful things today.  I would want them to know that beading, not a hobby. It’s not just a business, even if beaders sell your work, it’s an extremely sacred practice, and that people should treat it as such when they are either, commenting, liking or even purchasing the work.

What are culturally sensitive ways that non-indigenous people can engage with your work and those of other beaders?

I think that can be a sensitive topic. Some people feel that if you are not indigenous, you should not wear the beadwork at all.  I don’t personally feel that way but I can’t say that sentiment doesn’t exist. So, first and foremost, I would say, in whatever way you’re looking to engage with the beadwork, receiving proper protocols and permissions from people before you do anything is extremely important. So, talk to the person whose work you want to share work or feature. 

Personally, you can always share the work, I think that’s important as lot of people rely on it for their livelihoods so, giving exposure is great. Purchasing is also great as long as you know the person you are purchasing from. Make sure that you know their nation, you know a little bit of their history so that if someone stops you on the street and they ask where you got a piece from you don’t just say “oh from some native girl”. You should be aware of what you’re wearing and why you’re wearing it and you should also double-check that it is not in any way a sacred or ceremonial item because those should not be worn by non-indigenous people.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve created so far?

It’s hard to pick because when you bead it feels like everything you make is just a piece of your soul and it takes so much time and energy. So, I love all the little babies that I created. If I had to pick I would choose the bleeding hearts I created recently. I love them because they were traded, which is a traditional economic practice of indigenous people, and also I had never seen anyone bead bleeding hearts before. I’m sure someone might have but I’m not aware of it so, it feels nice to have created something that possibly no one has thought of.  They are cute and original and they took me about 9 months to create so, I truly feel like they are literally my babies. 

Cocktails and Ambition| Haudenoshordy

Where can people find you?

you can find me on Instagram @Haudenoshordy