The Great Seneca Chief Fan
11/o Czech and Japanese glass
beads, copper beads, antique trade beads, green lip mussel, Narrangansett
turkey tail and coverlet feathers, Beautiful Cebu shell, hand-cut quahog
wampum shell beads, Lake Erie clam shell, St. Lawrence River clam, crow wing
pointer feathers, raw silk, purple-blue dye, deer skin, oak, synthetic sinew
fan span: approximately 14" x 72" length
"Rusty" Zarbo was a young boy, his Dad would always bring home pheasant and
ruffled grouse he and his brothers or friends had shot in the south towns
below Buffalo. While the family was always excited to see these exotic birds
in the sink for cleaning, Rusty was fascinated if not amazed by the
iridescent neck feathers of the pheasant or the natural op-art patterns of
the Fall season ruffled grouse tail feather designs. For him, it was a
chance to get close to some of G*d's and the birds' magical gifts, the
feathers. He doesn't remember seeing the birds being cooked. Those feathers
blinded his memory.
His Dad would always tell him about a Native American Seneca
chief that would grant his Dad, family and friends permission to hunt on the
Seneca reservation lands. For young Rusty, Native Americans were spiritual
in a way that for him at that age seemed deeper, more sincere than the
Sunday church duty he was brought up in and told to pray through. So it was
with great anticipation that one after-church Sunday afternoon, his Dad,
already close to Angola, New York, suggested the family go and visit his
friend the chief so his son could meet "a real Indian chief".
From the moment the Oldsmobile entered south town regions
Rusty was unfamiliar with, the car floated, soundlessly, to the reservation
gates. The family exits the car, while his Dad approached the cabin
doors..."No, he's not here today; he's gone out into the fields - not sure
where he is..." was the woman's answer, and though the words couldn't be
heard that was the message delivered a few minutes later when Dad returned
to the open car doors and his stretching, yawning family.
Rusty never did get to meet the Seneca chief that day, but he
never forgot how close he got, and he never forgot the kindness extended his
father, family and friends those times when he was given permission to hunt
on Native lands.
This fan is in remembrance of that Seneca chief.
In addition to the Czech and Japanese 11/o glass seed beads,
the copper beads and deer skin, an especial material featured on this Great
Seneca Chief Fan is the hand-cut true quahog clam wampum made by Cayuga deer
Haohyohno, whose exceptional work may be seen at
the Canada Museum of Civilization, the New York State Museum, the Seneca
Iroquois Museum, and the Plymouth Historical Museum in Michigan, among
There are additional clam shells that are part of this fan;
the larger pink one connected to the upper fringe is a pre-zebra mussel clam
shell from Lake Erie, over forty-years old, as well as a clam shell disk
also attached to the fringe and cut from an old blue-silver clam shell found
in the vicinity of Alexandria Bay-1,000 Islands in the St. Lawrence River.
The crow feather wing pointers were added as a symbol of
imminent powerful action, memory and speech.