Symbols and Meanings

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Akwe:kon (A-gway-gohn) is a Mohawk  word meaning "all of us". The structure and architecture, and both internal and external designs, represent Native culture and history while reinforcing the concept of an inclusive community.

To the Haudenosaunne,  the counterclockwise direction represents the course of all life.

circle of life the four directions

The inlaid motif on the floor of the community room represents the circle of life the four directions. This circle of life organizes the building in a circular motion. Both the building and the community room are entered in a clockwise motion.

Akwe:kon's west ground contains a circle that marks the beginning of a path which is meant to be walked in a counterclockwise direction around Akwe:kon and it's entire environment. The circular walk symbolizes the recognition of the importance and equality of all beings in the environment.

The aerial view of Akwe:kon suggests the form of an eagle. The head faces westward. The wings are outstretched to the north and to the south for watchful protection.


Akwe:kon's barrel -vaulted ceiling

Akwe:kon's barrel -vaulted ceiling reflects the spirit of the Haudenosaunee longhouse which was a multi -family home. Within Akwe:kon, the students represent a kind of Multi- family as they represent many cultures.This structural shape enhances the concept of the extended family within the Akwe:kon environment.

The arched forms of Akwe:kon suggest a similar motif found above the mail east entrance: the half-circle Sky Dome. The half -circle represents all life forms whom live in equality under the dome of the universe.

The shingles serve to unite the surfaces of the building and to fascinate and please the eye. The shingles they are made of red cedar and are painted purple and white to serve as a stylized wampum.

The community room's Stickley furniture reflects Navajo and other Native motifs.


The two row wampum belt

The two row wampum belt is represented on the landscape grounds of Akwe:kon by a curved decorative wall along the main path approaching Akwe:kon from the west (counterclockwise direction). The belt symbolizes the parallel and thus continually distinct paths along with the Iroquois and their non-Native neighbors have taken and continue to take throughout history.

Behind the wall that depicts the Two-Row-Wampum belt is a circle honoring the Cayuga Nation, whose homeland Akwe:kon shares.


six boulders

Behind the circle are six boulders. They represent he six nations of the Iroquois.


Hiawatha Belt

The Hiawatha Belt can be seen by the two story western wall of Akwe:kon. The window frames, glass panes, and shingles form the Hiawatha Belt. The five sections represent the five original members of the Iroquois Confederacy.


The Wing or Dust Fan Belt

The Wing or Dust Fan Belt is recalled many times on the walls of Akwe:kon. It is represented by purple triangles on a white background. This belt represents the strict adherence to the values of the Iroquois Confederacy and is equivalent to the large bird wing or fan that keeps dust or other obstructions from blocking true vision.


The Circle Wampum

The Circle Wampum stylized on the south wall represents the Iroquois government which has strived throughout centuries to maintain the Tree of Peace and the Iroquois Confederacy. The elongated spoke represents the Tadadaho, the spiritual leader of the confederacy.


The Invitation Belt

The Invitation Belt is represented by the five hexagons on the eastern wall represents an invitation for other people to seek shelter under the Iroquois Tree of Peace. This symbol faces other North campus residence halls as an invitation to all to visit Akwe:kon.


The Tadodaho Belt

The Tadodaho Belt dominates the north wall and demonstrates how the concepts of the Two Row Wampum Belt are intended to work whenever cooperation between distinct peoples becomes necessary. The belt also represents how over centuries, the symbols on a belt can incorporate additional meanings as new circumstances occur.