Native American Technology and Art

From The Fourth World Documentation Project

Story of the Corn Husk Doll

This legend is told by Mrs. Snow,
a talented Seneca craftswoman.

Many, many years ago, the corn, one of the Three Sisters, wanted to make something different. She made the moccasin and the salt boxes, the mats, and the face. She wanted to do something different so the Great Spirit gave her permission. So she made the little people out of corn husk and they were to roam the earth so that they would bring brotherhood and contentment to the Iroquois tribe. But she made one that was very, very beautiful. This beautiful corn person, you might call her, went into the woods and saw herself in a pool. She saw how beautiful she was and she became very vain and naughty. That began to make the people very unhappy and so the Great Spirit decided that wasn't what she was to do. She didn't pay attention to his warning, so the last time the messenger came and told her that she was going to have her punishment. Her punishment would be that she'd have no face, she would not converse with the Senecas or the birds or the animals. She'd roam the earth forever, looking for something to do to gain her face back again. So that's why we don't put any faces on the husk dolls.

From: Our Mother Corn Mather/Fernandes/Brescia 1981

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