Celebrating the gift of corn

SIX NATIONS — “The Law is in the Seed”: A Community ‘Cornvergence’ commenced within the Six Nations Community Hall to bring together a celebration for the gift of corn to Turtle Island on Thursday, May 10.

Headed by Chandra Maracle, founder of Kakhwa’on:we/Real People Eat Real Food, the event welcomed faces from the surrounding area reaching as far as Toronto to enjoy the day celebrating corn through creativity, food and culture.

“I called this a ‘cornvergance’ because it isn’t a conference, it’s an anti-conference because it’s more of a ‘let’s move, let’s eat, let’s hear words from fabulous people and not sit all day long’ kind of event,” said Maracle.

“It’s about community, it’s about culture and creativity,” she said. “It’s a celebration.”

The event featured Amber Meadow Adams, who spoke about the research regarding the significance of corn in the Haudenosaunee Creation Story, Rick Hill, who explored corn and maintaining a thriving society, Gary Farmer, who discussed a documentary he directed in 1996 titled The Gift which celebrates the gift of corn, and Ian Mosby, who presented his research on the long-term health effects of malnutrition and hunger that was present in residential schools.

Throughout the day performances were also offered by Tehahenteh Frank Miller, who offered the opening and closing, Santee Smith, who performed a dance that incorporated themes of corn and culture, and Eddie Thomas, who led three traditional Haudenosaunee social dances.

The food aspect of the meals served for attendees included the freshly prepared and ground heirloom corn varieties from Maizal Quesadilla Cafe as well as samples of traditional corn bread and lyed corn from Bonnie Skye. Several Six Nations artisans including Sapling and Flint and Everything Cornhusk also set up their works featuring corn to showcase to visitors.

“I would say that it is a celebration of life through corn today,” said Maracle. “If you start talking about corn, inevitably you’re going to start talking about everything else because it’s related to everything else.”

“Particularly, in a Haudenosaunee context, corn is the most mentioned plant in the Creation Story and it is also, in my opinion, what allowed Haudenosaunee governance and culture to thrive post-Great Law.”

And her opinion may not be far off the mark as corn is believed to have been developed from a wild grass called Teosinte which was originally growing in Central America 7,000 years ago, and then later became the foundation for many indigenous agricultural diets. And just as corn connected indigenous people through trade and diet in the past, Maracle noted that it connected people through the event in the same way.

“We have quite the mix of people here today,” she said. “We have people coming from Onondaga, Oneida, Tuscarora, Buffalo, lots of people from Six Nations, we have Brantford, Guelph, London, Toronto and Waterloo. So, in a way this ‘cornvergence’ is calling for a converging of people from all over for this common theme.”

Maracle explained that planning the event was quite the task, but as she noticed the effect of the day upon attendees, she said it was “exactly” what she had hoped for.

“As I’m watching people, either watching the performances, listening to the speakers and seeing everyones faces; everyone is either totally engaged or smiling and laughing and it is exactly what I wanted.”

The culmination of her inspiration to celebrate corn through the ‘cornvergence’ was one that paid off as the event seen well over a hundred attendees.

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