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Six Nations reclaims its history during the annual pageant

The Story

"What I was taught in school ... and from all the things I've seen and heard, Indians were treacherous, skulking, low, sort of, savage..." says CBC's Percy Saltzman, revealing a common view of native history in the early 1960s. But Indigenous people knew otherwise. With the Six Nations annual pageant in its 12th year, Tabloid sits down with its founder, Emily General, and others to hear how the event is reviving a proud history not found in school textbooks. Royal Ontario Museum curator Walter Kenyon talks about excavating a 1,000 year old Iroquois village, and Percy Saltzman gives the weather. 

Medium: Television
Program: Tabloid
Broadcast Date: Aug. 11, 1960
Guests: Emily General, Walter Kenyon, William Smith, Lorna Thomas
Announcer: Alan Miller
Host: Percy Saltzman
Interviewer: Joyce Davidson
Duration: 26:29

Did You know?

• Six Nations people call themselves Haudenosaunee, meaning "people of the long house."

• The Six Nations Native Pageant (now the Six Nations Fair) celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2008 with a performance in its Forest Amphitheatre.

• Lorna Thomas (Hill), the young lady giving the corn soup recipe in this clip, teamed up with her son Samuel Thomas and the pair are internationally renowned bead workers and teachers. They've produced works for international galleries, film and stage.

• The artifacts and human remains found by Walter Kenyon at the Miller site -- an 1100 A.D. Iroquois settlement --  are now the property of the Royal Ontario Museum. A smoking pipe from the site is on display in the ROM's First Peoples Gallery. The human remains, along with some 200 artifacts found at the site, including pottery, pipes, beads, animal bones, arrowheads and tools, are sometimes studied by archeologists.

• The ownership of human remains and artifacts from Canadian aboriginal settlements and gravesites is a contentious issue. In the 1970s, aboriginal communities began lobbying museums for a return of artifacts and human remains, which are considered sacred.

• The Haudenosaunee policy on human remains states: "The remains of our dead are not 'archaeological resources' that are subjects of study. They are human beings who once lived on this land. They had real lives and feelings. They had spiritual expectations about their final resting places. To look at native peoples as objects rather than people is a gross violation of our human rights."

• The ROM's policy on human remains states: "The ROM will make every reasonable effort to respect the wishes of the descendant aboriginal communities requesting the return of human remains."

• The ROM will also consider returning objects buried with human remains, and other sacred and religious artifacts to aboriginal people. In 1988, the ROM was one of the first museums in the country to repatriate objects to aboriginal people, returning wampum (sacred belts) to the Six Nations.

• Today museums and aboriginal peoples across the country are constantly negotiating returns, which can take up to 10 years. The Canadian Museum of Civilization has repatriated at least 14 of its skeletal collections to aboriginal groups since its first return in 1995. 


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