Three Fires Confederacy gathers once again on Manitoulin

Darlene Bebonang, right, holds regular classes in traditional crafts at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation in M’Chigeeng. Ms. Bebonang was on hand at the Three Fires Gathering to pass on her skills.

AUNDECK OMNI KANING – The confederacy of the Three Fires joined together the First Nations of the Ojibwe and Odawa and Potawatomi into one of the most powerful political, military and trade alliances to be found on Turtle Island (North America). The Three Fires Confederacy also brought together most of the Anishinabemowin-speaking peoples that included a much broader group of First Nations and American Indian tribes.

Nearly all of the members of the First Nations of Manitoulin are descendants of the Three Fires Confederacy and gatherings such as that held recently at Aundeck Omni Kaning help to reinforce the bonds that secured that historic alliance and educate today’s Anishinabek on their heritage, as well as the continued importance and relevance of those historic bonds.

The gathering in Aundeck Omni Kaning was held on August 9, commemorating the historic signing of the 1836 Bond Head Treaty and is referred to in Anishinabemowin as “Mnaajtoon chi-waawiindamagjwin” roughly translated to “honouring the promises.”

The daylong gathering included games for the children, workshops on the treaty history and meanings of the various wampum belts and crafts and teachings for people of all ages, as well as a mini-powwow.

Ogimaa Patsy Corbiere welcomed everyone to her community, with the gathering taking place on the shores of the North Channel at the Aundeck Omni Kaning campgrounds.

Historian Josh Manitowabi took attendees through the history of the treaty relationships from the Anishinabek perspective while over at the sacred fire gazebo women were learning songs and hand drumming.

Traditional medicines are part of a healthy lifestyle, usually integrated into everyday life and plant-based, rather than ingested in pill form. photos by Michael Erskine

Meanwhile, over at a half dozen popup arbours children and their parents were learning a variety of traditional crafts such as leather and beadwork. Canada’s national sport (no not hockey) was being practiced as lacrosse players took their young charges through the basic skills and rules of the sport. Even the UCCM Tribal Police were in on the fun, with a set of small electric cars and a safety course on driving set in miniature.

The Three Fires Confederacy Gathering proved that history, traditions and culture can be a lot of fun if you approach it in the Anishinaabe way.