The One Dish Mask is based off of the One Dish/One Spoon wampum belt that recorded an agreement of peaceful and neutral hunting grounds north of Lake Ontario between the Iroquois and Ojibwa in the late 1600’s. The center image represents a dish with a beaver tail in it. Beaver tails were considered a delicacy to Native people. The principle behind the one is that it signifies that what belongs to one, will also belong to all people. The efforts of having open and peaceful hunting grounds were necessary in the survival of the people.
The principle behind the One Dish/One Spoon could be interpreted to have been demonstrated by the Peacemaker at the unification of the Five Nations. The Peacemaker passed a bowl of beaver tail around to the chiefs. These fifty chiefs took only a small portion of the bowls contents due to the understanding that others needed to get their share from the bowl. One spoon is used to eat from the bowl to align the idea of sharing with one another. The spoon specifically is used when discussing this principle due to a spoon being far less lethal than a knife. Again, the principles of peace.
In today’s time, the idea of equal sharing and equal respect among Native people is one that continues to be strengthened. This t-shirt is a reminder to Natives and non-Natives alike that we should take no more than what we need, and to always be mindful for others.