Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Many Trails Symbol and a pdf about the "Folk Art" of Wisconsin Indians

Richard March of the Wisconsin Arts Board (now retired) developed an apprenticeship progran in the mid-1980's that facitated the process of passing along traditional skills also known as folk art.

March and Janet Gilmore proceeded to develop what might be called a pamphlet, now accessible online as a pdf.  The full title is

WOODLAND WAYS: Folk Arts Apprenticeships Among Wisconsin Indians 1983-1993

This blog tends to focus on the Stockbridge Mohicans and the creator of that tribe's "Many Trails" symbol, Edwin Martin, is one of the featured artists.

If you're a Stockbridge Mohican, you already know that the Many Trails symbol has been reproduced in pendants, rings and earrings. (In my web searches for a good pic of the Many Trails symbol I've also seen it as a large tattoo on a woman's back.)  These were depicted in Woodland Ways:

Here's Martin's description of the symbol that he created:
The design symbolizes the endurance, strength, and hope of a long-suffering, proud, and determined people.  The curved shape represents the arms of a man raised in prayer.  the circles represent many campfires.  The lines represent the many trails taken from the time the Indians left their ancestral homes.

There are also a lot of other good artists featured in the Woodland Ways pdf:



Christal Parsons said...

I am very interested in knowing how I can purchase the Many Trails Symbol pendant. My boyfriend is from the Brothertown Tribe and I would love to get this for him as a gift. He already has the symbol tattooed on his arm and mentioned he would love a necklace.

Jeff Siemers said...

They still sell "Many Trails" jewelry at the Arvid E. Miller Memorial Library-Museum.

Use this link to contact them and find out more:

rjzakhar said...

I have found a post that; "The Many Trails symbol, designed by the late Elder Steve Comer, and first rendered in silver by another Mohican tribal elder, Edwin Martin, is the official symbol of the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe."
I have never heard of anyone other than Ed Martin had anything to do with the symbol. Who is Elder Steve Comer?

Jeff Siemers said...


Steve Comer is probably old enough to be called an elder by now.

I wrote one of my earliest posts about him:

Jeff Siemers said...

By the way, I should also mention that Steve Comer had nothing to do with creating the Many Trails symbol.
When I told him about that falsehood that is floating around on the internet he was unhappy about it.

Anonymous said...

Edwin Martin was my father and the designer of the Many Trails symbol. No one else desisnedit.