Keena – Native Indian Artist – 1949 – 1995
Keena was born to a Mohawk father and French-Canadian mother in 1949. She was given up to be adopted and, until she was a young teenager, grew up in an orphanage. She was taken in as a foster child to a strict French-Canadian home. She always knew she was native although she had never been told this. Keena said she was from the bear tribe. She began working with red clay when she was in her twenties and this small beginning translated into creating a world of colourful figurines in different tribal costumes. A favorite theme of hers was mother and child and she eventually had three children herself. She often incorporated this into her bigger sculptures with other creatures like the wolf, the eagle, the bear and the turtle. She hand-sculpted vases and decorated them with ceramic paints and she created a multitude of multi-faceted masks to ward off evil.
In 2005, one of her Nativity scenes was used on a Canadian 85 cent stamp and this year another of her Nativity scenes is being displayed at St. Joseph’s Oratory.
Permission to show Keena’s works by her daughter, Yanishka Beljaars.