Our Name

Atira, Mother Earth

The name Atira was chosen for the society by the founding board of directors in 1982, a year before the society incorporated. It was drawn from The Dinner Party, an important icon of 1970s feminist art and a milestone in twentieth-century art, was on tour across Canada at the time.

The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party comprises a massive ceremonial banquet arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from herstory. The installation can be found on permanent display at The Brooklyn Museum.

1 of 1,083

Atira was one of 1,038 women honoured at the table. Atira was known as “Vault of the Sky.” She was Mother Earth and a member of the council of gods in the belief system of the Pawnee, a First Nation originally located in what is modern-day Nebraska. Atira was the wife and partner of Tirawa, the creator god.

An Ear of Corn

For the Pawnee, Atira’s earthly manifestation is corn, which nourishes them and symbolizes the life that Mother Earth creates. “It was she who had brought forth life and it was into her body that all life would return at the end of its appointed time. Her symbol was the ear of corn, to represent the idea that, as the kernel is planted in Mother Earth (Atira) and she brings forth the ear of corn, so the child is begotten and born of woman.”

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