Showcasing the Arts

Featured Artist:
Susan Mullins
Kwaronhia:wi (Native Name)


 

Susan Mullins Kwaronhia:wi
Learning and teaching about her Iroquois heritage is a way of life for Susan Mullins Kwaronhia:wi. “We learn from the past so we can find solutions to today’s problems.”
Kwaronhia:wi (Susan Mullins) is Mohawk of the Iroquois Nation. Her home is located in Canada in the province of Quebec near Montreal, known as the reservation of Kahnawake. She lived there until she was 11, when she was sent to Brooklyn, N.Y., to attend school with relatives.

This was common practice because French Canadian schools were not interested in teaching Native people. Historically, the Jesuits brought the Catholic Church to Kahnawake around 1625. As time went on, many Native children went to Saint Augustine's Catholic School in Brooklyn.

Keeping Native traditions, Susan and her family went home to the Kahnawake Reservation in Canada on holidays and vacation time in summer. She also kept her heritage alive while studying in the United States. As a child she was taught Native dance, music, storytelling and visual art and craft. Education was a way of life for Susan, and learning the history of the Northeast Woodlands Indigenous people was important to her.

“We learn from the past so we can find solutions to today’s problems,” Susan said. “Our ancestors gave us knowledge to pass on to future generations, leaving positive impressions that can endure for all mankind.”

Susan stayed in Brooklyn after attending Brooklyn College and worked at Morgan Guaranty Trust. In her free time, Susan wrote music and performed at weddings, parties and gatherings for various organizations. She has several Native music scores and translates songs into Native language.

Susan moved to Kentucky in 1984 and currently lives in Berea. She worked as a horse farm manager with thoroughbreds for several years. Her passion was in the arts, so she opened a jewelry store in Berea, making modern style jewelry and Native American turquoise jewelry and crafts. She was also invited to do Native programs in Iroquois Nations history and culture at Sayre School in Lexington.

While doing the program she met Judy Sizemore, who introduced her to the Kentucky Arts Council. Susan applied to the arts council’s Teaching Artists Directory to teach Native programs in schools and other organizations in Kentucky. At Judy’s suggestion, Susan incorporated her music into Native American educational programs and translated familiar children’s songs into her Native tongue.

In addition to music Susan has dance, storytelling and visual arts projects, each with their own story. After several collaborations with other artists, Susan met Arnold Richardson (Tuscarora-Haliwa-Saponi). He wanted her to produce an album with him. He played the Native flute and Susan accompanied with a hand drum. That album, titled “Spirit and Soul,” was nominated for a Native American Music Award.

Susan is the arts community representative on the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission board. She is also a Kentucky Colonel.

Artist's statement:

I try to leave children and adults who participate in the programs with the desire to learn about their own heritage and to compare the differences in cultures. Reading about Native peoples may remain in the subconscious, but hands on experience will be remembered forever. You'll experience the rich and beautiful culture of Indigenous peoples of this land.

 

Susan Mullins
Kwaronhia:wi

Berea, Ky.

Phone: 859-582-9859
Email: dsmul@aol.com