On Saturday, December 1st, 2012, the Peguis First Nation hosted a Hunters’ and Gatherers’ Feast in honour of high school students who had successfully completed a course in bush skills. They were also honouring Chief Glenn Hudson and celebrating the inauguration of a new beaded otter fur Chief’s hat made by women in the community. There were about 250 people in the community hall for the event, which featured the Loud Eagle Drum Group and numerous dancers. For the first time in many years, an old friend returned to the community; a black pipestone horse’s head pipe bowl which once belonged to the founder of the First Nation, Chief Peguis (1774-1864), and is now in the keeping of The Manitoba Museum.
Chief Peguis’ pipe bowl has been in the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) Collection for more than 80 years and has been at The Manitoba Museum since the HBC Gallery opened in 2000. According to available records, the pipe was purchased from Charles Prince of St. Peter’s, a great-grandson of Chief Peguis, by William Flett, on behalf of the Hudson’s Bay Company. It was last on public display in 1936 at the Leipzig Fair in Germany.
Last summer the Museum, with community partners, set up a special display in honour of the 200th anniversary of the Selkirk Settlement and, in the course of identifying appropriate artefacts, we came upon Peguis’ pipe. It was not part of the display because pipes like this have an important Anishinaabe ceremonial role. ‘Pipes, opwaaganag’ are grammatically animate. They are spoken to as if they were persons and are considered ‘wiikaanag, ritual brothers’ by those with whom they share ceremonies. We eventually got in touch with Chief Glenn Hudson to ask what we could do to make the pipe known to the community. This invitation to the Hunters’ and Gatherers’ Feast is the result and we are honoured to have been invited.
As Curator of Ethnology, it was my pleasure to take the pipe to the community for the day. The video attached shows the ceremonial entrance of the pipe, a welcome song played by the Loud Eagle Drum Group in honour of the pipe and community members lined up to view the pipe. The feast, which featured wild foods including elk, moose, deer, rabbit, goose, and wild rice, was fabulous. Thank you all.
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MM Dec 4, 2012