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Mohawks Play Host To Saskatchewan Chiefs

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE 30 1975      v05 n11 p07  
The St. Regis Mohawks invited the Saskatchewan Indian Chiefs to their reserve for an evening of entertainment and a unique traditional Mohawk meal. The Saskatchewan Chiefs were in Ottawa at that time to meet with various Parliamentarians.

The St. Regis Reserve is located about 140 miles southeast of Ottawa on an island splitting the great St. Lawrence River. This reserve is part of the five nations who have been using the traditional form of government called the Longhouse government.

Part of the dinner was prepared by an elderly Mohawk lady of the tribe in this traditional dressings. The food was arrayed on a long table on the south edge of the spacious St. Lawrence River.

There some of the Chiefs witnessed for the first time a huge Russian Ocean Liner heading towards the Atlantic Ocean. One Chief jokingly commented, "Look at that big Russian canoe"

The Mohawks took great pains and extra care which seemed natural to them to make the Prairie Chiefs visit a memorable one. The people were mild mannered and courteous as they answered some questions about their beliefs and ways of life.

The dinner was fabulous, unique, tasty and out of this world. It was beautiful. There was corn soup, corn baked bannock, an assortment of cooked beans, poultry and all kinds of mixed and fine cut meats. The modern dishes however were prepared by the younger ladies which were pies, cakes, and iced fruit lemonade drinks.

After everyone had their fill of this delicious food, one of the young Mohawk leaders announced it was time to have some singing and dancing. The young man explained, "It is our tradition after a feast such as this one, to end the evening with songs and dances."

Six of the young men sat around in a circle with five of them holding rattles except for the lead singer, who has a miniature drum, about six inches in diameter and chanted a few demonstration numbers. The Mohawks songs started out with the lead singer chanting in a slow speed and then the rest joined in with a pace about four times faster than our Pow-wow music at its fastest. They also use a lot of dialect in their numbers.

Then the young men gave a demonstration of their Mohawk dance routine. The feet of the dancers seemed to be floating on a cushion of air as they kept in time with the very fast beat. One has to be in top condition to keep up with the beat of the singers. The Prairie Chiefs witnessed the Mohawks strange, but very entertaining music and dances.

The Mohawks then requested the Saskatchewan people to demonstrate their songs and dances. The Mohawks did not realize that in Saskatchewan, singing groups have to practise and that they use one big drum.

Chief Joe Williams from the Sakimay Reserve, explained to the Eastern Indians that they will try their best in entertaining them, but jokingly commented about the fear of using rattles because a huge monster might suddenly loom over them coming out from the St. Lawrence River.

Chief Johnny Frank managed to get a group together and led the sing songs in Pow-wow, Round Dance, and the Owl Dance. They did a terrific job. The Saskatchewan Indians and even some of the Mohawks joined in the easier and slower dances of the Prairie Indians.

The Chiefs thoroughly enjoyed the evening, but started to show signs of weariness as they had had little or no sleep on their flight from Saskatoon that memorable June 17 morning. Chief Dave Ahenakew, on behalf of the Saskatchewan Indians, extended his good will and gratitude to the kind hospitality of the Mohawk Nation.

Saskatchewan Chiefs leaving plane Chiefs boarding players
Chiefs standing outside of plane Winston Weekusk
Chiefs Returning to plane FSI Senators
Assembly Saskatchewan Chiefs and Mohawks

Chiefs leaving airport