Saturday, June 10, 2006

Old Native Canadian Indian Belt Returns to Tribe

In 1838, Chief Shingwauk gave a native Canadian Indian wampum belt to Sir John Colbourne to help get a school for the Anishnabe area in Ontario, Canada. That belt recently came home to the Sault Ste. Marie and Garden River Band in northern Ontario after being purchased from Sotheby's auction house in New York. "I tried to go through channels to get it released to us but they wouldn't let it go," said Chief Lyle Sayers.

The Garden River Band Council gave their approval to buy it, and Sayers got on the phone and placed a bid. "In about a minute $34,000 had been spent ... but it wasn't about the money; it was about bringing the wampum back home."

The belt has parallel rows of purple and white beads. The purple rows represents the teachings, values and beliefs of the Anishinabe people and their boats while the white beads represent the European settlers and their tall ships. The belt's power is reflected in a new agreement between Shingwauk University and Algoma University College in northern Ontario. While both remain as independent universities, both schools will share the same teachers, services, space and resources. Students can enroll in, and graduate from, either university.

" [Chief Shingwauk] spoke to the importance of education 175 years ago and it is still important in 2006. Education can be one of the big cures for our social ills" says Phil Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief.

"True evidence of our success will be when one of the grandchildren of Chief Shingwauk graduates from Shingwauk University" states Darrell Boissoneau, President of Shingwauk Education Trust.

See Free Spirit Gallery for Native Canadian Indian art

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