Women's Nomination Belt Mural

History & Art - Driving Tour of Tompkins County

Women's Nomination Belt Mural

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Ithaca Heritage


**This mural was demolished in 2021 due to the renovation of the Green St. Parking Garage**

The Women’s Nomination Belt Mural, located on the Green Street Parking Garage, was painted by Brandon Lazore of the Onondaga Nation in 2014. In the artist’s words, “It is dedicated to the feminine side of the Haudenosaunee culture, and people can have a better understanding of how important the women in our culture is to our society.”

The mural is dedicated to all Haudenosaunee women, with depictions representing many aspects of women’s roles within the Haudenosaunee community. The mural title is inspired by the Nomination Belt, which is a wampum belt bestowed on women as a symbol of their authority to choose, nominate, confirm, and superintend the chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. It also confirms their right to choose the names of their children, and for children to be born into the clans of their mothers. The belt depicts six human figures, arms extended and joined, with a square between the two central figures representing the council fire. **As of 2020, the painted figures depicted in the Nomination Belt mural have begun to fade, although their significance remains.

A silhouette of Sky Woman is also included in the top right corner of the mural. Although versions vary widely from community to community, the Haudenosaunee creation story is essentially the story of the Sky Woman, who fell through a hole in the sky and was caught by birds, who set her down on the back of a turtle. Animals brought mud up to form land on the back of the turtle, forming the earth the Haudenosaunee call Turtle Island. Sky Woman planted many things on Turtle Island and gave birth to twin sons. One twin was drawn to positive creation, the other twin desired destruction and worked to corrupt his brother’s positive creations. It is through the twins' competing efforts that the world was built. The Haudenosaunee believe that the twins’ competing natures for creation and destruction keep the world in harmony and perfect balance.

In the mural, Sky Woman is holding roots of the Three Sisters, Corn, Beans, and Squash, the plants that grew from her hand and hair when she fell from the sky. The Three Sisters were, and are, important crops for Haudenosaunee agricultural practices because, when grown together, they have a symbiotic relationship that deters pests, enriches the soil, and provides a balanced diet.

The three women in the painting represent three generations of Haudenosaunee women: a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter. Strawberries, also known as "heart berries" to the Haudenosaunee because of their shape, grow at the bottom left of the mural. Strawberries are an important part of the Gaiwiio, which is the “good word” (gospel) of the Seneca prophet Handsome Lake, representing blessings and thanksgiving. Lazore included them in this mural for their medicinal significance in connection with the maternal theme “mother’s love is medicine to a child.”

The moon, shown in its various phases in the mural, represents fertility. It is included because of the significant role that the cycles of the moon play in a woman’s life. The cycles guide and influence planting, harvesting, hunting, and other aspects of everyday life in Haudenosaunee culture, whose yearly calendar is organized by thirteen moon cycles.

Brandon Lazore is a member of the Snipe Clan of the Onondaga Nation. A graduate of Onondaga Community College, he has been painting murals around New York State since the mid-90s. His work “celebrates Haudenosaunee culture and serves as a learning tool for passersby.”


This point of interest is part of the tour: History & Art - Driving Tour of Tompkins County


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