Emily Pauline Johnson
She was a Canadian writer and performer popular in the late 19th century. Johnson was notable for her poems and performances that celebrated her Aboriginal heritage.
Born: March 10, 1861, Six Nations, Ontario, Canada
Died: March 07, 1913 (aged 51), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Resting place: Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Emily Pauline Johnson was the youngest of four children born to an Englishwoman, named Emily Susanna Howells, and Mohawk Chief Teyonhehkon, a descendant of Hiawatha and Dekanahwideh, the Peacemaker, and other leaders Pontiac and Tecumseh.
Pauline’s family blended and reflected two distinct cultural heritages: one being the customs, traditions, myths, legends and historical accounts of her Mohawk heritage from the Wolf, Bear and Turtle clans, and the other being her mother’s British background.
The Mohawk were one of six nations represented in the Iroquois Confederacy, governed by a Great Law of Peace and consisting of 50 sachems (chiefs of the ruling council within a Confederacy) chosen by the matriarchs of the Iroquoian societies. Members of these societies refer to themselves as the Haudenosaunee, meaning “People of the Longhouse.” They are linked together by shared languages, cultural heritages and histories. As a member of the League of Six Nations, the Mohawk are known as the Keepers of the Eastern Door and were regarded as leaders of the Confederacy by British Superintendent of Indian Affairs Sir William Johnson.
Chief Tekahionwake, Pauline’s great-grandfather, was the first to be given the English name, Johnson (after Sir William Johnson) at birth. In turn, Sir William Johnson was given the Mohawk name, Waraghiyagey.
Pauline was born at “Chiefswood,” a home her father built for his wife on the reserve land of the Six Nations of the Grand River, a region of forest that stretched from the Great Lakes northward.
A number of distinguished guests came to Chiefswood, such as Princess Louise, Prince Arthur and Lord Dufferin, on their visits to Canada. Other esteemed visitors included members of the Six Nations such as Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant) and his sister Koñwatsi'tsiaiéñni (Molly Brant), the second wife of Sir William Johnson. Gonwatsijayenni was a Mohawk clan mother, matriarch and loyalist who had much power in the dealings of the Confederacy.