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Kim Nishimoto

Oneida Corn Husk Dolls
De Pere, WI


Artificial sinew: Waxed thread.
Celestial: (sounds like, sa-LESS-chul) Of the sky or heavens.
Condolence canes: (sounds like, cun-DOE-lense) Special canes that have pegs and carved symbols that represent each Iroquois chief.
Corn husk dolls: Traditional dolls in Oneida culture made from the husks of flint corn.
Flint corn: A type of corn that is very hard. The colors range from white to red. It is the traditional corn eaten by Oneida people.
Heritage: Traditions passed down from earlier generations.
Husk: The outer, protective covering of corn.
Iroquois Nation: (sounds like, EAR-a-kwoy) An alliance of six North American Indian nations: Oneida, Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora.
Kustowe: (sounds like, gus-TOE-wee) A headdress with carved antlers that an Iroquois wears.
Latkas: (sounds like, LAHT-cuz) Potato pancakes.
Oneida: One of the tribes in the Iroquois Nation. In Wisconsin, the Oneida reservation is near Green Bay.
Pow-wows: Gatherings where Indian people from different tribes come together for dancing and visiting.
Revive: To bring back into practice or use.
Three Sisters: The three most traditional Oneida foods: beans, squash, and corn.
Tradition: A cultural activity that members of a group learn and then pass on.
Vertically: In an up and down direction.

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Journal Questions

QuestionIs there something that your family does that shows it’s part of a larger group?

QuestionWhy do you think making corn husk dolls was so special to Kim’s ancestors and still is so special to Kim and her family today?

QuestionHave you ever been in an art class where everyone had to make something out of a certain material, like wood or paint or paper? Did everyone’s project turn out exactly the same? Can you describe how the projects were different? How do the differences reflect the creativity of the people in the class?

QuestionThink of something that you learned to do from someone else. How have you changed it with your own ideas?

QuestionCan you think of an item from your culture that’s changed in meaning or use over the years?

QuestionRemember Kim’s story of why corn husk dolls have no face? Think about a favorite toy of yours. Tell a story of its long ago history.

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Resources For Teachers

The Oneida Nation governments in both Wisconsin and New York maintain very informative websites. They’re worth a visit!

Web ResourceOneida Nation (Wisconsin) website tells of the clans, history, culture and reservation community.

Web ResourceThe Oneida Nation Arts Program features several Oneida artists, including Kim.

Web ResourceTeachersFirst.com gives step-by-step illustrated directions for children to make a corn husk doll.

Book ResourceIroquois Corn In a Culture-Based Curriculum: A Framework for Respectfully Teaching about Cultures
By Carol Cornelius, 1999
A very thorough, interesting and readable resource for teachers.

Book ResourceIndian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal
By Patty Loew, 2001
Excellent resource for information on the Oneida and other Indian peoples of Wisconsin.

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Resources For Students

Web ResourceYou can read about Kim’s mom, Amelia Cornelius on this page from the Oneida Nation Artist Directory.

Web ResourceThis page from the Oneida Nation Art Museum gives good information about the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin.

Web ResourceLearn about the three Oneida clans (family groups), the Bear, Turtle and Wolf clans, from the Oneida Nation website.

Web ResourceWant some great corn, bean, or squash recipes? Then visit the Three Sisters Cookbook from the Oneida Nation in New York.

Web ResourceDo you wonder what the Oneida language sounds like? Listen to samples from the Oneida Nation Language Project (New York).

Web ResourceThe Shako:wi Cultural Center of the Oneida Nation (New York) has many on-line exhibits. Visit their website to see dolls, baskets, beadwork, carvings, pipes, rattles, and much more.

Web ResourceThe Oneida Nation is part of the Haudenosaunee, a group six Indian nations known as the Iroquois Confederacy, or the Six Nations. “Haudenosaunee” means “People of the Long House.” Learn about the other Iroquois nations by visiting these sites:

Web ResourceHave you heard of the game lacrosse? It’s fun and fast! Go to Lacrosse: An Iroquois Tradition” to learn about the game’s Iroquois heritage and find out how it’s played.

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Text written by Jamie Yuenger, edited by Anne Pryor.

Sources consulted include tape recorded interviews with Kim Cornelius Nishimoto by Michael Kline (7/3/98) and Barbara Lau (9/2/97), with the tapes housed at the Wisconsin Arts Board. Also, Iroquois Corn In a Culture-Based Curriculum: A Framework for Respectfully Teaching about Cultures by Carol Cornelius, State Univ. of NY Press (1999; and these websites: Iroquois History and Oneida Nation Arts Program Artists Directory.

Video footage from Wisconsin Folks (1998) produced by Dave Erickson for Wisconsin Arts Board and Wisconsin Public Television.


Wisconsin Folks

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Kim Nishimoto



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