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Six Nations Memorial Wreath

Curated Submission
Brantford, Ontario
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
Materials & techniques
Stretched leather, wood
Six Nations of the Grand River
Niagara Historical Society and Museum 2004.001.001
This ceremonial wreath in the shape of a drum is made of red dyed leather – possibly sheepskin – and is fastened to a wooden frame. It is decorated with flowers and leaves, still largely intact after over 100 years. Created in 1912 by the Six Nations Council for the Centenary marking the death of Major-General Isaac Brock in the War of 1812, it was used during the commemoration ceremonies at Brock’s Monument in Queenston, Ontario. The Centenary offered the chiefs of the Six Nations an opportunity to make public their ongoing grievances with the Canadian government. In light of their contribution to the War of 1812, the Six Nations chiefs were actively involved in the ceremonies, making speeches and public appearances to emphasize their role and their ongoing struggle for recognition of their treaty rights.
Chief William D. Loft was appointed to create the wreath. It was placed at the base of Brock’s Monument at Queenston Heights on October 13, 1912. Inscribed on the surface is “Six Nations 1812–1912 He Rests in Peace – Rodinosyonni,” along with an image of a black bear gripping a bundle of six arrows. During the ceremony Chief De-ka-nen-ra-neh (A.G. Smith) gave a speech lamenting the lack of justice experienced by the Six Nations in the historical record and expressed a desire to obtain representation in the Canadian House of Commons.
The wreath is a poignant reminder of the marginalization of First Nations people and a bold assertion of their desire to be officially recognized by the Canadian government. By taking part in the ceremonies, the Six Nations were staking their claim as an integral and active force in the history and development of Canada.
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