The Museum of Ontario Archaeology hosted its 5th Annual Harvest Festival and Pow Wow over this past weekend at Attawandaron Park in
London. Enjoying perfect weather conditions, the two day festival brought over 2500 drummers, dancers and spectators together from all across Ontario to gather and celebrate.
The Pow Wow was held at the Lawson Archaeological site, a historical Neutral Iroquoian village with a reconstructed longhouse and palisade. Archaeological digs have revealed a large Neutral Indian village site of between 4-5 acres which was once home for 1,000 people in the early 1500’s.
Western University, McMaster University and the Museum work together through Sustainable Archaeology, a joint research facility whose focus is on digitization of archaeological collections and using those digital images to create virtual environments. “We have a virtual reconstruction of the Lawson site,” says
Museum Director Joan Kanigan. “As we continue to digitize more artifacts and get more information into the digital environment we may be able to stand outside, smell the grass, feel the breeze and have 3D goggles on where you are actually looking at a digital recreation of what it may have looked like.”
The event included work shops where the art of hand drum making was demonstrated by Ro’nikonkatste (Bill Hill), a Mohawk of the Bear Clan. He also conducted an interactive Hand Drumming workshop.
The Museum also opened a traveling exhibition from the Royal Ontario Museum as part of the festival. O’h ya’h Ohdiwenagoh: Through the Voices of Beads brings together 20 pieces from the Royal Ontario Museum’s collection, as well as some pieces that the Ontario Museum of Archaeology has in their archaeological inventory as well. It also features works created by Cayuga artist Sam Thomas.
“The exhibit really looks at the art and some of the history around beadwork as an artistic medium and as a way of sharing and telling stories and ideas,” says
Kanigan. The exhibit gives detailed descriptions of the materials used and the stories behind the symbolism chosen by the artists.
A movie entitled “Not a Good Day to Die” about motivational speaker Bossy Ducharme, an Anishnawbe from Manitoba showed at the Museum Theatre. The movie depicts Ducharme’s personal jouney through depression, addiction and thoughts of suicide, towards a reawakening of his “Anishnawbe Warrior” self and the changing of his entire life. He was also on hand to answer questions and to talk with people with works of encouragement and peace.
His inspirational story, and vision for a happier, healthier future, was presented in a manner that appeals to all ages, cultures and beliefs.
Elijah Hill of the Mohawk Nation spoke on the four Medicines teaching and on Cedar Tea.
The entire event was designed to be interactive with many more workshops for visitors to hear and experience for all ages, including a Hip Hop Workshop conducted by O.N.E. Dance Studios in London.
Visitors had an opportunity to participate in various traditional workshops around the site, such as hide tanning and flint cutting. Pow-wow organizers Dennis
White Eye and Gordon Nicotine Sands brought a narrative flow as emcee’s to the protocol and events of the pow wow over the course of the weekend. This is important to Museum Director Joan Kanigan. She shares, “We’re trying to create opportunities for people to learn and share more common understanding. As soon as you start to understand people you just break down barriers and make stronger communities.”
By Jim Windle and Nahnda Garlow