Rebecca Maracle, or KaraKwine, meaning “she brings the light” in Mohawk, is an artist, feathersmith and healer based in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Her shop is located at 840 Highway 49, where she works on her art and meets with people for healing sessions. Rebecca has been at her shop since 2016, but has always been an artist and learning from her family.
“I was born and partially raised on the reserve, I didn’t live here my entire life. We traveled a lot growing up, just because of what we do. But I’m home. I’ve been an artist or working in this capacity as an artist my entire life—literally. I’m fourth generation: I’ve grown up with my grandparents and my parents, travelling all over, creating and selling. It’s how we’ve made our living. And it’s how I’ve raise my children and husband. This is my contribution to our household, by working in my shop and creating my artwork. I’ve lived more of my life on reserve than off and raised my kids on the territory, raised in tradition and culture. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I love where I live: this is home.”
Rebecca is part of the Bear clan, one of the three (Bear, Turtle and Wolf) of the Mohawk people in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.
“Bear clan people are the medicine people. Each clan holds an area of gifts to help the people, [those] in our traditions and societies and community. We all come together and we all have different roles and responsibilities that we lend to help each other.”
Being a healer, Rebecca lives by many wise teachings and practices.
“I always tell people: everyday you wake up, you open your eyes and take that morning stretch. It’s another gift you’re being given, being here on this earth—what are you going to do with the time you’ve been given? What lesson are you going to learn today that’s going to help you understand who you are and who you are meant to be?”
Her art is one way of reaching people.
“It’s not about only being thankful every day and moving forward, but there’s also that aspect of retrospect that is important. Where we’ve come from, how far we’ve gone, and the triumphs in that. Some people will look at my artwork and say they like it and think it’s pretty. And others will stand in front of a piece and it will strike them with that emotion; some people will cry, and some people will stand back and just be in awe. That’s what I love, because I know that I have done my job to the best of my ability. Because it’s about connecting with people, in a way that I can do it naturally. If I can’t be somewhere to help someone understand something, I can be there with my artwork.”
Healing comes differently to everyone, based on their own situation, but it’s all about progress on an individual level.
“We have to be willing to not be narrow minded about our thinking. People have the ability to be very narrow minded. With that, we put ourselves in these boxes and this is the way we think, this is the way we act, this is how we move, this is where my level of comfort is. And life, whether we realize it or not, is always trying to push us outside our comfort zone. How do we deal with that? Some people do not handle that gracefully, but it speaks volumes about who we are when we recognize those challenges and those obstacles that come into our path. But it’s about how we choose to deal with it.”
Hanging in the back of her shop, Rebecca has a sign saying, “A change of feeling is a change of destiny,” which holds great importance to her practice.
“Some people can walk into my shop broken, demoralized, and hopeless, but there’s reasons for it. Have they learned the lessons that they needed to learn in their lifetime up to this point? Just to understand that the things that have happened in our life have happened for reasons, but they do not need to dictate who we become.”
The journey to the healing process can be a long but worthwhile process.
“Our path is our path, that we are meant to walk completely alone, regardless of whether or not we have a partner. Our path is still our path and we have to pay homage to that. We have to walk this path for ourselves first in order to know who we are, and not decide to jump over to somebody else’s boat because we don’t know what our path is. Our responsibility to our self is to ask our self that question. And there are so many people who are not willing to.”
“Whether it’s in medicine or art, whether it’s in an interaction like this, I hope that every time I do that with people, that I’m leaving something good behind.”
For more information on her art and healing visit Rebecca Maracle’s website and Facebook page.