The Potawatomi Gathering is an annual event hosted each summer by one of the 9 recognized bands of the Potawatomi located in the United States and Canada. The gathering was founded in 1994 through the vision of Wasauksing Elder Stewart King and other Tribal leaders from the Potawatomi communities. The gathering is an opportunity for members from all over North America to join together to celebrate their Potawatomi heritage, culture, resiliency and survival as a nation. The Gathering features an annual language conference, youth conference, cultural and craft workshops, sporting events, tribal meetings and powwow.
The Potawatomi Gathering is not just a social gathering but also a cultural revitalization for the Potawatomi Nation. While we have taken on different identities and even our language and our dialects are different, we are still Potawatomi. We can be apart, all over and live through the US, Canada and Mexico but when we come together, we are family. Themes for this years Gathering include the land, the water, art, custom and contemporary identity.
We are one of the only nations who continue to bring our whole nation together in an effort to build unity, sovereignty and nationhood.
Wasauksing First Nation is an island community located in Georgian Bay in central Ontario. With a history that goes beyond the signing of the Robinson Huron Treaty, Wasauksing is a community made up of the Three Fires- Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi nations. Wasauksing has 1800 members and continues to grow.
Our nation’s mission statement is: To carefully balance the conservation, restoration, and sustainable development of Wasauksing First Nation’s lands and resources, in keeping with our traditional values and beliefs, for the benefit of our membership and future generations.
Wasauksing First Nation has a profound relationship with the land that is rooted in respect for the spiritual value of the Earth and the gifts of the Creator. It is the intention of Wasauksing First Nation to maintain Parry Island in its natural state to the greatest extent possible, subject only to the development and use of land in accordance with the Wasauksing First Nation Land Code and Wasauksing First Nation’s Community Development Plan.
Our community strives to provide equal opportunities for all members to develop, enhance and succeed in economic growth while promoting the continued social, traditional, and spiritual development of its First Nation.
Our history of the Bodwewaadmii Anishinaabeg Migration to Ontario from the records of Stewart King and Butch Elliott, writes that the Potawatomi originated along the lower great lakes from Michigan to Illinois. Jesuit writings mention Potawatomi around Wisconsin in 1632 and Georgian Bay in 1641. The Potawatomi contributed to the war of 1812, this included Ogemawatch who fought Tecumseh, Pashgobe is a descendant of Ogemawatch, the King family descends from Pashgobe.
Following the 1833 Treaty of Chicago, the Potawatomi once concentrated around southern Lake Michigan, increasingly dispersed into nine bands across four states, two countries, and thousands of miles. With origins in Illinois and Michigan, the Potawatomi are now located in Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mexico and Ontario.
In 1835, there was a migration of Traditional “Pagan” Potawatomi from Wisconsin into Ontario. After 1837, Migration of Potawatomi from Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois in response to United States Federal Indian policy of removal and peoples’ preference to remain in Great Lakes rather than relocate to Kansas or Oklahoma.
The Indian Affairs Superintendent conducted a recorded roll of 1842 that documents Potawatomi at the time. The total Potawatomi that were recorded in Ontario in 1907 was 1493, this included 97 at Wasauksing. In the 1980’s, the Potawatomi living in Canada began to organize in relation to land claims and settlements in the US. This included Floyd King, Ed Williams, Stewart King, Cynthia Wesley- Esquimaux who were on the original organizing committee.
Although there are 9 recognized Potawatomi communities, there are many more Potawatomi communities in Canada along Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, from Walpole Island, Cape Croker, Christian Island, Wasauksing, all the way up to Manitoulin Island and beyond.
The potawatomi language & history conference is a two-day language conference hosted by wasauksing first nation. The conference will feature language speakers, historians, knowledge holders and academics from potawatomi communities in canada and the us. Each day will open with emcee mskwaankwad rice. There will be an offering of workshops on language and history featuring language experts, cultural teachers and potawatomi historians. Topics will include: potawatomi language innovation, potawatomi migration into canada, potawatomi history, potawatomi plant knowledge, potawatomi and climate change adaptation. The language & history conference will be at the wasauksing gymnasium.
Wasauksing will offer cruise boat tours around wasauksing on wednesday july 31 and thursday august 1. The cruise will board at 5:15pm and depart at 5:45pm from the parry sound boat docks. The cruise is 3 hours in length and can accommodate up to 550 people.
The potawatomi gathering will feature a cultural program that includes a variety of land-based activities. Located on georgian bay, wasauksing is an island community lush with cedar, pine, maple and birch. The cultural program will include teaching lodge building, sweat lodge, sunrise ceremonies, sacred fire burning, memorial feast, sacred site visits, maple sugar bush walks, land-based cultural workshops, the selection of miss potawatomi and the addition of a new young men’s category for the selection of shkaabewis. The annual community powwow will also be incorporated into the gathering cultural program.
Thursday august 1 and friday august 2nd will feature a series of workshops, film screenings, hikes, traditional games and activities. Registration for the workshops will be first come first serve, seating is limited for several sessions. Spaces for elders will be included. Wasauksing sings will be a community presentation of potawatomi artists, writers and creators from wasauksing first nation in celebration of the 26th annual potawatomi gathering founded by wasauksing elder and stewart king.
Exhibition of bodewadmi: keepers of the fire through art. A visual arts exhibition will feature photography, sculpture and paintings by potawatomi artists. An artist talk for up to 300 will provide the artists with an opportunity to discuss their work. Featured artists of the gathering will include artist maria hupfield (nyc), debbie jackson (wasauksing) and more.
A youth-designed program will be scheduled for thursday august 1st. The program will feature the work of youth leaders and activists, artists and filmmakers, public speakers and other youth empowerment programming.
The tribal meetings will provide an opportunity for potawatomi leadership to meet and discuss current issues, priorities and strategies for collaboration as a potawatomi nation.
Wasauksing first nation hosts an annual traditional powwow. This year the powwow will coincide with the gathering. Potawatomi gathering and traditional powwow protocols will be respected. Miss potawatomi will be selected during the powwow warm up on friday evening and will participate in the powwow. The powwow weekend will include sunrise ceremonies, a concert featuring diggingroots and fireworks. The gathering closing ceremony will include the passing of the ashes on sunday august 4. No alcohol or drugs, no pets.
The Wasauksing rink is located in the village of Wasauksing and is a covered rink with washroom and change room facilities. It is adjacent to the Wasauksing ball field.
The Wasauksing ball field is located in the village of Wasauksing and is equipped with lights and bleachers.
The Wasauksing gym and school are located in the village of Wasauksing. Connected to the Wasauksing Administration office and health centre, Wasauksing Kinomaugewgamik has been in operation for over 30 years. The gym also features the artwork of community artists Debbie Jackson and Maria Hupfield.
What was once a boomtown for the Canadian National Railway, Depot Harbour is home to one of the community beaches and the cultural grounds.
Three Mile Lake is Wasauksing’s inland lake with a community beach. Designated as a motor free zone, Three Mile Lake is often used for canoeing, kayaking and standup paddleboarding. There are cultural grounds also at Three Mile Lake.
From Highway 400:
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