Back in 1991 the Mohawk community of Kahnawake decided to host a pow wow on the same patch of land that had been occupied by the Canadian Armed Forces the previous summer. That long summer of 1990, of course, was dominated by the Oka Crisis, when Kanesatake Mohawks set up barricades to stop the town of Oka from expanding a golf course onto the cemetery that Kanesatake claimed as ancestral territory.
An armed confrontation ensued between Kanesatake’s protesters and the Surete du Quebec, prompting Mohawks from the nearby community of Kahnawake to blockade the access roads that led through their community to Montreal’s Mercier Bridge.
After that long and bitter confrontation, Kahnawake wanted to change the world’s perception of Mohawks. The pow wow was promoted as an opportunity for Natives and non-Natives to come together in a spirit of friendship, sharing and a way to heal the wounds of Oka. It was a huge success attended by thousands of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike.
They have succeeded as year after year the pow wow continues to attract thousands of people. This year as in the past was one of enjoyment, seeing old friends and making a few new ones.