To some, coming to Six Nations of the Grand River Territory is like a walk across the street. But to many others, visiting for the first or second time, you might be interested in knowing about many other interesting and enlightening sites in the immediate area worthy of visiting while you’re in the neighbourhood.
The first and probably the most obvious of these is the Chiefswood Museum site. It is the childhood home of the renown Iroquoian poetess, Pauline Johnson. You will see the Chiefswood home as you drive into the Pow wow grounds, at the upper level. The land that the Champion of Champions Pow wow is held on is, in fact, part of the former Johnson Estate.
Across Highway #54 from Chiefswood Park, is the Six Nations Tourism building with a lot of useful information and a good display of Six Nations culture.
Only 15 minutes to the Northwest from the Pow wow, is the Woodland Cultural Centre and Museum located at 184 Mohawk Street, Brantford.
The Woodland Museum has been established as an integral element of the Woodland Cultural Centre. The museum has been established to collect, preserve, research, exhibit and interpret a collection of archaeological material, historical material culture, arts, crafts, documents and archival photographs. The museum offers direct services to three communities: Wahta Mohawks, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and Six Nations of the Grand River.
Next door is the Mohawk Institute, known by its former Native “students” as the “Mush Hole” – a name given to it by students who were forced to exist on stale, maggoty oatmeal, hence, the name Mush Hole. Eye-opening tours of the former residential school are provided by staff at the Woodland Cultural Museum. It is Canada’s oldest and longest running Residential School, beginning in 1828 and finally closing its doors in 1970.
Children from Six Nations were gathered up and sent there, along with some from the communities of New Credit, and Moraviantown, Sarnia, Walpole Island, Muncey, Scugog, Stoney Point, Saugeen, Bay of Quinte and Kahnawake. The main purpose for these schools was nothing short of cultural genocide, operating with the mandate to “kill the Indian and save the child.” Government documents show that as many as 50% of the Native children brought to these schools never returned home due to neglect, disease and in some cases, murder. Most suffered some form of abuse, sexual or otherwise, in the name of education while attending there. Some Native leaders refer to the residential schools era as “Canada’s holocaust”. It is a shocking stain on Canadian history, but a story that needs to be told.
Close by the Museum is the picturesque white framed Mohawk Chapel. Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks was constructed in 1785, and was given to the Mohawk Indians led by Joseph Brant, for their support of the Crown during the American Revolution. They had migrated to Canada after Britain lo st the Thirteen Colonies and were awarded land, six miles on either side of the Grand River, from source to mouth, for resettlement.
Between the two is the Good Minds book repository, a bookstore containing hundreds of books relating to the Onkwehonweh (On-guy-hon-weh) or Indigenous people of Six Nations and other First Nations across Canada. Look for the Good Minds booth at the pow wow as well.
Gifts? No problem. If for some reason you don’t find what you want on the vender’s tables at the Powwow, you may wish to visit Irocrafts at 1880 Tuscarora Road – the largest and most visited gift shop on Six Nations.
There are many other Six Nations shops and artisans within the village of nearby Ohsweken to explore, and these are only a few suggestions. Enjoy your time on the Territory and Nya:we (thank-you) for coming to visit.