It’s time to hear Six Nations’ side of the story.
In the midst of celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, Woodland Cultural Centre is presenting War Clubs and Wampum Belts: Haudenosaunee Experiences of the War of 1812, running now until Dec. 24.
“During this whole commemoration our side of the story wasn’t being left out, but it wasn’t being adequately examined,” said exhibit curator Rick Hill. “More recently, our warriors have received more credit for the service they provided, but I wanted to focus more on what the war did to our people.
“It’s not just a celebration of what took place or hero worship. This is what happened to the real people who lived here.”
The exhibit is broken into four parts. The first looks back in time at what it was like prior to the war and the heartbreaking decisions the Haudenosaunee people were faced with when trying to decide which side to support.
The second includes vignettes about the war, which profile individual experiences faced during battle. The highlight is a 200-year-old wool cloth British flag believed to be given to Tecumseh during the war by the British.
The flag is on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
“Tecumseh has such a primary role in what took place, we wanted to do our assessment of that, but we wanted to explain that he was one of many who wanted to secure a future for the natives,” Hill said.
The third part of the exhibit examines the Haudenosaunee legacy, examining their relationship with the crown and military.
At the end of the exhibit, visitors can search a database of veterans that served in the war from both sides of the Grand River.
“This is our side of the story, the war from our perspective,” Hill said. “Both military leaders during the time and historians since have said without the native warriors it would have been very unlikely the British enjoyed the victory they did. We are commemorating that fact.”
The exhibit is running in conjunction with The 1812 Whirlwind Conference: The Impact of the War on the Six Nations. The conference runs Nov. 16 to Nov. 18 at Six Nations Polytechnic in Ohsweken.
The conference will bring 12 scholars together to reflect on how their research has shown the impact Six Nations had on the War of 1812.
“The conference will give us a broader historical sense of what took place,” Hill said. “We are sharing our perspectives on what took place and, to me, that’s very significant.”
Visit www.woodland-centre.on.ca for more information.