SIX NATIONS – Providing traditional knowledge that many Haudenosaunee families have lived without was the focus for a two-day cultural gathering held within the Grand River Room of the Six Nations Polytechnic that began Saturday, August 19.
Jordan Sandy, Elva Jamieson, Dawn Martin-Hill, Cam Hill, Leroy “Jock” Hill, Tehakanere and many more spoke on topics such as Haudenosaunee values, the Creation Story, traditional songs and dance, traditional roles and responsibilities, teachings of a good mind and Healthy Roots foods to those in attendance.
Special Projects Co-ordinator from Social Services Mari Reeve spoke on the focus of the gathering and how successful attendance was as each day saw roughly 30 visitors.
“I’m really grateful that so many people could make it out,” said Reeve. “It’s not always easy to get people together, but I’m really grateful to everyone who came and everyone that helped make this day happen.”
Reeve said that although many don’t like to call it cultural revitalization because the culture has always been there, she considers the gathering a means of spreading traditional knowledge and making it easier to access.
“The [plan] is to get a lot more of these events together, so that people with no knowledge, a little knowledge or a lot of knowledge can come and learn and share.”
“This is just a way for people in the community to connect with each other, and to try to eliminate that ‘oh I’ve never been to Longhouse so I’m too scared to go,’ and this was to make people feel more comfortable.”
Reeve worked side by side with Tawnie Johnson, another special projects co-ordinator who explained that the gathering focused on learning.
“A lot of it was just learning,” said Johnson. “That’s very much our theme is learning together and that’s really all it was.”
She explained that on Saturday the gathering received five speakers and those in attendance were able to ask questions and enjoy the speakers’ words without being quizzed or questioned afterwards. This made it a very safe space to learn about a lot of the teachings that were lost through the effects of colonization.
“We have a very wide range of people that are here,” she said. “Some are elders that already know the topics but just love listening to it, but I also know that there is a number of people here — including myself — who weren’t fortunate enough to grow up with all of those aunts, grandparents, uncles, and elders in our direct families, that just carried that knowledge everyday at the dinner table, and at gatherings. So, really there are some people here who have never heard these things.”
Johnson said that this is exactly what made the gathering so important, as it’s focus was to reach those that want the knowledge offered by the speakers, but never had the opportunity to grow up with it. To also help make attendance as easy as possible, the gathering offered childcare in the SNP building.
If you couldn’t attend this gathering but wanted to, more gatherings and events are in the works for the future, so Reeve and Johnson advise to keep an eye out.