Dailies: May 27, 2013
Today’s post comes to you from the lovely Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in central Ontario. The lands stretch between the towns of Shannonville and Deseronto, about halfway between Ottawa and Toronto on the infamous 401 highway. Most importantly the reserve lies along the Bay of Quinte, itself a winding, labyrinthine corridor of water that has commuted here several kilometers from its mother Lake Ontario. The band is thus formally organized under the name “Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.”
We arrived late on Saturday, dust covered from our trek off of Prince Edward Island. It was a pleasant surprise to find that our accommodations-a park and public campground with showers- overlooks the bay. It is truly beautiful country, beautiful in a way that is somehow universal. The greenness of the landscape is nearly overwhelming. More excitingly, we have been able to walk around in tshirts. It’s a near miracle after the long, cold winter and spring.
Our main contact is Karen Lewis, head librarian at the Kanhiote Tyendinaga Public Library, and today we went in to meet her face to face. It was a good meeting, and we now have a better picture of the community and its constituent groups. While at the library, we also met a man who was originally born on the reserve and is applying, with some misgivings, to work out west. It wouldn’t be his first time travelling-as a young man his parents moved the family to Detroit where our friend learned the meaning of street smarts “before they had a word for it.” But coming home to Tyendinaga was a shock: “I couldn’t imagine using an outdoor toilet,” he said with a laugh.
We also rode next door to the Quinte Mohawk School, which provides education for grades JK-8 (JK is junior kindergarten, if I understand correctly). The principal was very kind as well and the three of us talked over the possibility of some involvement with the school. She mentioned to us that early next week many students are taking a trip to Kahnawake in Quebec to take part in an event where Mohawks from all over come to run the streets of that community. All of us are hoping to find a way to capture that on film even though we personally will not be there. Where there’s a will there’s a way!
We do not have ready access to internet from our current location, so photos and such may come at a slower pace for the next few weeks. Still we will try to get some of the gorgeous shots of the area up when we can!