Whetung Ojibwa Centre
Jake Thomas False Face Masks
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JACOB (JAKE) EZRA THOMAS
Hadajigre:ta' (Desending-Cloud) 1922 - 1998
The late Jacob "Jake" Thomas was a leading proponent and interpreter of Iroquoian culture: craftsman, condoled Cayuga Chief, longhouse speaker or official "faithkeeper", singer, preacher of the Code of Handsome Lake, master of the Condolence Ceremony, authority on the Great Law of Peace.
Cayuga Chief, Orator, Language Advocate and Artist. Jake was a Hereditary Cayuga Chief, and a member of the Sandpiper Clan. As a speaker and advocate of the five original (Onondaga, Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca) Hodenosaunee Hodin/hs/:ni 608* languages, Jake became a proponent and interpreter of Iroquoian culture through his roles as interpreter, teacher, and orator throughout the Six Nations communities.
He was a well respected cultural leader, craftsman, singer, dancer, orator, and medicine man ritualist-ceremonialist who founded two institutions mandated for the maintenance of cultural integrity among the Iroquois, worked as a Museum Curator, and an Assistant Professor with the Department of Native Studies at Trent University.
Jake hand-made many different types of arts objects to support and preserve the oral tradition of passing on the longhouse speeches he learned to recite during his life time, including explanations of international agreements between the Hodenosaunee 608*, neighboring nations and colonizing nations in North America.
Facing a critical era in language and cultural attrition among the Iroquois, Jake dedicated a lifetime to instilling the importance of Hodenosaunee 608* world view - one person’s commitment to local culture as well as public awareness of Native contributions to society at large – particularly a message of environmental consciousness through Ganohonyonk Ganóh/ny/hk 631* (Thanksgiving Address), moral and prophetic message through Gaiwhiio Gaihwi:yo: 631* (the Code of Handsome Lake); and through Gaianarhi kowa Gayan+hsra`gó:wah 642* (the Great Law of Peace) among others.
*English-Cayuga Cayuga-English Dictionary, 2002
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