Ronnie Reitter | Regalia and Cornhusk Work
August 15–16, 2013, from 10:00 am–5:00 pm
Veronica (Ronnie) Reitter (Seneca, Wolf Clan) specializes in Haudenosaunee regalia and cornhusk work. She is also an accomplished storyteller. Ronnie designs and sews traditional clothing or “regalia” worn by Haudenosaunee families for dance competitions and other occasions. For women “we have an overdress usually made of calico - a small-print design, a dark skirt, a set of leggings trimmed with ribbons and beadwork.” She also sews traditional ribbon shirts, which are long-sleeved shirts decorated with silk ribbons, appliquéd designs, and beadwork. Her exquisite shawls, appliquéd with designs such as clan symbols or strawberry motifs, are much sought after.
Ronnie is also known for her traditional Seneca cornhusk dolls. She brings her skills in sewing and designing regalia to the art of “dressing” her cornhusk dolls. She learned to make cornhusk dolls by observing Mattie Young and Lillian Kane, Seneca elders and traditional artists revered for the quality of their cornhusk dolls. More recently, Ronnie has learned how to create other kinds of traditional Haudenosaunee cornhusk work, such as cornhusk mats, moccasins, salt bottles, tobacco baskets and containers.
Ronnie grew up in a non-Native foster home in upstate New York. As an adult she re-connected with the Haudenosaunee community, found members of her family who still live on the Cattaraugus Reservation in western New York, and became deeply involved with learning and teaching Haudenosaunee traditional art. In her journey to discover her roots, Ronnie learned that her grandfather, Adelbert Steeprock (Seneca), was a traditional artist who participated in the Works Progress Administration Indian Arts Project at the Tonawanda Reservation in the 1930s. As an employee of Ganondagan State Historic Site, she has been able to observe and learn from the many traditional artists who come to Ganondagan to give workshops.
About the Series: Fenimore Art Museum welcomes Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) artists to spend two days in the museum galleries and outdoors at our Native American Interpretive site Otsego: A Meeting Place. Artists teach and create unique artwork and crafts. Engaging conversations with these artists offer a delightful, insightful way to learn about traditional Native American art skills that have been handed down for generations.
Admission to the Native American Artisan Series is included with regular admission to the Fenimore Art Museum. Admission is free to NYSHA members. Become a member today!