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Wampum

Wampum belts 1812 exhibit

What are wampums?

Wampums are visual memory keepers that help record history and communicate ideas. Beaded patterns represent a person, nation, event, invitation, shared values and understandings/agreements between two or more parties.  Traditional wampum belts were used as covenants and petitions for understanding. Words spoken during an agreement are made into wampum to be used for ceremony, teaching, and reminders of law and values.

Who do they belong to? Read more

The origin of moccasins

Although the word “moccasin” is synonymous with the First Nation shoe, the origin of the word refers to footwear which includes the sandals, boots, and leggings that First Nation peoples wore.

Moccasins are protective footwear, often to keep feet from freezing. They were designed for the environment that the person lived in. For example, hard-soled moccasins of the Plains groups were made for rocky terrain while the Apache moccasins were characterized by turned-up toes to prevent sharp objects from piercing into the foot.

Moccasins are made from the hide of moose, deer, elk, or buffalo. Brain-tanned hide is similar to commercial leather today and is softer and easier to sew than buckskin (although not as durable).To create moccasins, patterns are made with the grain of the leather since they stretch when worn and are sewn with sinew. To punch through the leather for sewing, bone awls were traditionally employed whereas leather punches are now used. Read more

What is a longhouse

longhouse MOA

Longhouses were built with a frame of saplings supported by large posts in the house interior, typical longhouses were covered with sheets of bark such as elm bark and birch. Openings at either end were used as doors, while openings in the roof acted like chimneys, letting the smoke from the fires out. Fireplaces or hearths were spaced down the length of a central corridor in the house (an average of 1-6 fires), and were flanked with two platforms: the lower for sleeping, and the upper for food and storage.

The historic record shows that each hearth was shared by two families; one family lived on either side of the longhouse. On average, families had six to eight members. A medium sized longhouse like the one reconstructed at the Lawson site, would have been occupied by 38-40 people, all related through the female line. When a couple got married, the husband would move into his wife’s family longhouse. Read more

Dream Catchers

dreamcatcher

Dream catchers originated in Ojibwa culture. In the mid 1800s, early explorers recorded dream catchers being used to protect infants from illness and evil spirits. A dream catcher is a handmade object that consists of a willow hoop with a woven sinew net or web on the inside of the hoop. Within the webbing, beads, charms, and found objects may be woven in. Anthropologists recorded the use of dream catcher charms amongst the Ojibwa, however it has also been found that Crees and Naskapi also employed charms for protection.

How dream catchers work:
Dream catchers filter dreams, allowing only good dreams to pass through while bad dreams are caught in the net, beads, or charms until the first rays of sun struck them. The feathers send the good dreams to  Dream catchers were mostly given to the children, which would hang above their beds. Since dream catchers are traditionally made of willow and sinew, they aren’t meant to last forever. They are intended to dry out and break down once the child enters the age of “wonderment”. Read more

Medicinal Teas

Herbs and hot drinks have been around for a long time. Certain herbs can be used for medicinal purposes and have been made into teas. Medicinal teas can have a lot of different affects and can help with a lot of different sicknesses or problems. The uses of these herbs for medicinal purposes have been linked back to Native Americans.

Examples of medicinal teas/plants and their uses:

  • Pitcher plant was used by Native groups as a tea made from the root as a specific cure for small pox. The treatment not only shortened the term of the disease but also prevented the formation of “pox” marks or scars.
  • Wintergreen berries were used by the Mohawks as well as the Ojibwes. They knew the teas, as a medicine as well as a healthful beverage. Wintergreen contains methyl salycliates, the active pain killers of aspirin, useful for colds, headaches, and to bring down fevers. Tea was used to treat kidney problems, colds, fever and asthma. Tea and berries were used to increase the mother’s milk flow and delay menstruation. Also used as an aromatic antiseptic to relieve sores and joint aches.
"FountainSpringsWintergreen" by Mike Serfas - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://bit.ly/1oCZdlu
“FountainSpringsWintergreen” by Mike Serfas – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://bit.ly/1oCZdlu

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January 2014 Moccasin Making Workshop

Back by popular demand, the Museum of Ontario Archaeology is hosting another Moccasin Making Workshop. Register now for this unique opportunity to make your own pair of moccasins!

Sunday, January 19th 2014 from 9 am – 4:30 pm

Six Nations artist Marjorie Henhawk will be teaching you how to make your own pair from genuine hide and cozy felt. Create a pair to fit your own feet or as a gift for family/friends.

January moccasin workshop

Cost: $70 for womens size 9 and under; $75 for womens/mens size 10+
A $15 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot

Age: Workshop is for ages 14+

Location: The workshop will be held in the classroom at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology.

What to bring: Please bring your own bagged lunch and morning coffee (if required), an outline of each foot, and a sharp pair of scissors. Update: Please also bring a fleece lining if possible but not a very thick (you’ll have to sew through leather and the fleece!

Advanced registration is required – space is limited to 10 registrants. Register by phoning the Museum at 519-473-1360. Please note: Registration is now full for this workshop but please contact the museum to be placed on a contact list for future workshops.

Remembrance Day

This remembrance day, let us not forget to pay tribute to First Nation veterans and current troops overseas by observing their military contributions in past wars.

The following information has been complied from Veterans Affairs Canada website: Aboriginal War Efforts.

First Nations have been an integral part to Canada’s military forces overseas and at home, sacrificing their lifestyle and their lives in the name of Freedom and Peace. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 3 First Nations people enlisted in the First World War, despite conscription that prohibited them from enlisting. Many First Nations struggled with the challenges of racial prejudice, as well as overcoming language  and cultural barriers while undergoing difficult training regimes all soldiers had to endure. Although many reasons for enlisting were similar to non-native soldiers, some natives had additional cultural motives for enlisting, such as reconnecting their spirit with their ancestor warriors, and to assume a more active, masculine role than what they could provide for their families on reserves. Read more

November 2013 Moccasin Making Workshop

Sunday, November 10th 2013 from 9 am – 4:30 pm

– Please note this is a past workshop – You can leave us your phone and email to learn about upcoming workshops by calling 519-473-1360
Six Nations artist Marjorie Henhawk will be teaching you how to make your own pair from genuine deer hide and cozy felt. Create a pair to fit your own feet or as a gift for family/friends.

Cost: $70-$75/person. Workshop is for ages 14+ and will be held at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology.

A $15 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot. Advanced registration is required.

Moccasin_Workshop MOA2

 

Moccasin Workshop MOA