Pow Wow at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology

It seems like ages have passed since I visited the Museum of Ontario Archeology. After a friend suggested checking out the Pow Wow and Native Harvest Festival I couldn’t wait to experience a Pow Wow and see how the museum has grown since I last visited there some twenty-five years ago. The festival was a weekend event, starting on a Friday evening. On the day we went we were lucky enough to arrive for the Pow Wow Grand Entry. Flags were carried by several representatives including military veterans.

Next in the procession came dancers from the mens, ladies and children’s categories. The women’s jingle dresses were beautiful and made a nice sound as they danced. This dance was introduced by the Ojibwa people and has its own legend.

Even more impressive than the sight of the dancers in traditional and modern costume was the sound of the drummers. Pow Wow music comes primarily from the drum groups who sit in a circle outside the arena. These men blend their voices with the beating of the drum to create the song; some native women also join in as they chant native songs. Each category of dance has a specific style of song and pace that is appropriate for the dance.

When the drums first started it felt like something had gently picked up the entire area and shook it. I felt a vibration in my toes that traveled up my spine to my crown. Everything went completely quiet, but not just in the crowd of spectators: even the birds hushed up to listen to the drummers’ song and play.

My friends agreed that the dances and native music that followed hit a spiritual chord with them as well.

During the traditional blessing for the day’s events, spoken in a native tongue, I looked up to notice a falcon gliding high above us. I smiled. How could that moment have been any more perfect? It made me think about how many Pow Wows must have taken place in Ontario over the last several centuries. Much has changed in both Native and Ontario culture but moments like the one I experienced at the Pow Wow give one a sense of the energy that emanates from such a raw spiritual moment. When I looked up at the wings of the bird in the sky above me, with the sound of the drums and the singing filling my ears, I smiled. I smiled because I felt tuned-in to what residents on those grounds must have experienced when it was an active village.

Inside the museum’s Lawson Jury building, constructed in 1980, were some fantastic displays about Native history as well as the research done by Sir Wilfred Jury. Craft and workshop rooms also were also available for hands on learning. Some displays were targeted at primary school children, but an original model village, created by Wilfred Jury, was of great interest as were the many artifacts found in the area. I was fascinated by the paintings and sketches, some done by Wilfred Jury.

History of the Lawson site

The site is a 500-year-old Neutral Indian village situated on a flat plateau overlooking Medway River and Snake Creek. Prehistoric Neutral Indians selected the location for a major village due to its defensible characteristics, access to water, and proximity to a wide variety of animals, fish and wild plants.

It covers 5 acres and was at one time occupied by an estimated 2000 people. It is one of the many known prehistoric Neutral sites; this one of only a few where earthworks are preserved. According to the museum, earthworks were linear mounds of earth about one meter in height which were deliberately piled up to help support the palisades that surrounded the village. These earthworks remain visible on the undisturbed portion of the site. Three-quarters of the Lawson site remains covered by trees and is undisturbed. For more information visit the Museum of Ontario Archaeology’s website.

History of Hauntings!?

A little research on the museum itself reveals that during construction of the building, evidence of a 4,000 year old campsite was found in the area. The site was named “Spook Hollow”. Why? Pioneer legends claimed that Snake Creek, that runs behind the village where the building is located, was haunted.

I’ll have to ask more about that next time I visit because no further information was available on-line!


About Misstoricalfiction

Historian, researcher and writer specializing in historical fiction with a supernatural twist. By day marketing specialist in the insurance industry.

Posted on September 22, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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