Barbara “Cookie” Jonathan

Nation/Clan: Onondaga Nation-Canada/Beaver Clan
WPA Indian Arts Project Ancestor: James Jonathan

Artist Statement
Native beadwork is part our culture and a connection to our ancestors. When I bead I think of my relatives who taught me the joy of beading. I teach a beading class to help share the knowledge so that it will not become a lost skill and beading keeps a connection with the young ones who are coming up. My daisy chains are fun to make—so many patterns from a single stitch. My beadwork has a series of numbers incorporated to represent our culture: the three sisters, eight clans, the four directions. The daisy chain starts with making a simple circle, but that circle, repeated several times over makes something beautiful.


Legacies to be Studied and Admired

“When I view the objects that were created during the WPA, I feel a sense of awe and sadness. I guess I feel that way with items from the Morgan Collection as well. The Native people who participated in the WPA were artisans in their own right; and therefore, not just Native crafts people. They were the ones who left their legacies behind to be studied and admired for all time not just for the coming generations, but also for people who visit museums and see the items on display.”
– Cookie Jonathan

“My Grandfather James “So Heh” Jonathan was one of the many Native persons to have participated in the WPA from the Tonawanda Seneca Nation so I feel an affinity when I see those objects that he created. As a Native bead worker, I am in awe of the beaded items created and collected. Like other Native beaders I draw inspiration from the past.”
– Cookie Jonathan