Haudenosaunee Clans…Extended Families of the Iroquois Celebrating National Aboriginal Day at Crawford Lake Conservation Area

©Raymond R. Skye

©Raymond R. Skye

On June 21st Crawford Lake Conservation Area will be celebrating National Aboriginal Day! Join us as we honour the traditions, past and present, of Ontario’s First Nations. As part of the celebration Crawford Lake is pleased to present Haudenosaunee Clans…Extended Families of the Iroquois by Tuscarora artist Raymond R. Skye (on until July 1st, 2015).

With many thanks to Raymond for sharing the following beautiful teaching about his personal experience with his own father – Crawford Lake is grateful for the friendship. A fitting piece as Father’s Day and National Aboriginal Day are both celebrated on June 21st this year; the perfect day to reflect on the importance of National Aboriginal Day to all Canadians.

©Raymond R. Skye

©Raymond R. Skye

My father was a member of the Seneca Nation, and a strong adherent of his culture. He felt it was necessary to pass down as much of our Haudenosaunee culture as he could to me. Our cultural teachings follow an oral tradition. We acquire our teachings through the spoken word. I remember my father sharing a short story relating to the clans. I’d like to share that story here.

“Many species of wildlife exist in this world, and they were all put here for a reason. Say for example the birds. Each kind of bird knows it belongs to a certain group. Robins, sparrows, crows, hawks, and every other type of bird knows what family it belongs to. But, because they are all birds, they are all related. It is that way with all the creatures of the wild. Whether they are of the land, the water, or the air, each species has many relatives. This also includes the many different kinds of trees and plant life that dwell upon the earth and in the water; even right down to the smallest of creatures such as the insects. They are all part of this world, and they serve a purpose. It is nature’s way of maintaining balance in the world, to keep it functioning the way it is meant to. The Creator made and placed all those living things upon the earth, and that includes human beings. He gave all of his creations instructions as to how they should function; a purpose and duty to fulfil. We understand that life will prosper as long as those instructions are faithfully adhered to. 

As Onkwehon:we people we realize the importance of our relationship to one another, and to the natural world. That is why the clans were formed. As people it gave us a means of expanding that relationship, clan to clan, across every nation. In times of need we could provide support to our extended clan families no matter what the situation; especially in times of personal family loss. It is that connection that has kept us united as Onkwehon:we people, and increased our survival rate so we could still be here today. 

Nature can be an excellent teacher if we only take the time to stop, listen, and observe. That is how the clan system originated. Our relationship with the natural world is equally important, for it ensures our continued existence. Respect and compassion is something we owe to all of creation. It is not just exclusive to humans. That is why our Thanksgiving Address is inclusive of all the elements of creation. We are to be thankful. It is all our Creator asks of us.”

Raymond R. Skye

Come out to the park to learn more in the Haudenosaunee Clans…Extended Families of the Iroquois exhibit or visit www.raymondskye.ca, for more information on Raymond Skye and his work.

Guests will also have the opportunity to learn from special guests Iroquois Lacrosse, Chief Top Leaf, and Wawashkesh Drums. Crawford Lake’s National Aboriginal Day celebration begins at 10am and runs until 4pm on June 21st, 2015.

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