Rick Hill, Indigenous curator of the Emphatic Traditions exhibition

Photograph by Alex Heidbuechel

Rick Hill, Indigenous curator of the Empathic Traditions exhibition, holds a Friendship Wampum Belt at the inaugural unveiling ceremony for the Landscape of Nations Commemorative Memorial, held in Queenston Heights Park on October 2, 2016.

Indigenous Peoples Are Still Here

While few birchbark canoes make their way through the waters of the Great Lakes and the Niagara River today, the legacy Indigenous peoples established remains very much in place. The Tuscarora Nation resides on the Niagara Escarpment, near present-day Lewiston, New York. The Seneca people, still the largest of the original Six Nations, live at Tonawanda (near Akron, New York), Cattaraugus (near Gowanda, New York) and Allegany (at Salamanca, New York.) On west side of the Niagara River, one of the largest communities of Indigenous people within Canada is Six Nations of the Grand River (located near Brantford, Ontario). The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (near Hagersville, Ontario) remains active on this territory. And, as evidenced by the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre, the Niagara Regional Native Centre (in Niagara-on-the-Lake), the M├ętis Nation office (in Thorold, Ontario), along with other Indigenous institutions and programs, there remains a vibrant Indigenous presence in the Niagara Region.

The Haudenosaunee Council Fire still burns. People still make beadwork. Wampum belts continue to inform us of our shared history. The ancient stories are still told. Indigenous languages continue to be spoken. And, we are reminded daily of the voices of the Thunder Beings, which are heard in the rumbling power of the falling water at Niagara Falls.

Dave Labbe, community curator of the Empathic Traditions exhibition

Dave Labbe, community curator of the Empathic Traditions exhibition, holds Onondaga Formation chert that was once used to manufacture projectile points and other Indigenous tools. Onondaga chert is found in a large repository that runs along the northern shore of Lake Erie.

Michele-Elise Burnett

Michele-Elise Burnett, artistic director of Celebration of Nations and president of Kakekalanicks Indigenous Consulting, speaks to a group of dignitaries at an annual honouring ceremony conducted at the Landscape of Nations Commemorative Memorial.

Photography by MarkZelinski.com