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Tewarontanonhna (We guard the tree)

Tewarontanonhna (We guard the tree)

Carrie Hill
With assistance of cousin, Kai

The Tree Protection Zone on Hart House Commons encompasses many kinds of trees, both introduced and Indigenous. Hill chose to work with the sole white pine, which in Akwesasne tradition represents the World Tree at the centre of things. Black ash basketry is a traditional art form that combines deep environmental knowledge with community-centred care practices—both vital aspects of the anticolonial work done by Haudenosaunee women. By applying a stencilled weaving pattern to the hoarding, Hill honours this lonely World Tree with a protective basket and connects the creative labour of basketry to that of world-building. Around the rainbow gradient of this “basket,” symbols of ongoing Indigenous struggles are also brought into that protective fold—red for our missing and murdered Indigenous women and kin, orange for the children taken by residential schools, yellow for cultural resurgence, green for Land Back and all land protection camps, blue for the Water Walkers, and purple for the wampum of treaty belts and the struggle for sovereignty.

About the Artist
Carrie Hill is a Haudenosaunee woman from Akwesasne Mohawk Territory and owner of Chill Baskets. The tradition of weaving Black Ash Splints and Sweetgrass goes back many generations in Carrie’s family, her Aunt being her first teacher. She finds honour and pleasure in teaching Haudenosaunee Fancy Basketry and is proud to pass along this ancient tradition to her children, her community, and the next generations of artistic leaders.

Tewarontanonhna (We guard the tree) is part of Tree Protection Zone, a transformative Indigenous-led public art exhibition at Hart House Commons. See works by other Tree Protection Zone artists: Shuvinai Ashoona, Susan Blight, Christi Belcourt (Onaman Collective), Isaac Murdoch (Onaman Collective), Taqralik Partridge in collaboration with Nils Ailo Utsi, and Que Rock/Manitou Nemeen (Quentin Commanda).