Chief Poking Fire Indian Museum, Caughnawaga Indian Reserve
This is an historic, b/w image of the well-known local landmark “Chief Poking Fire Indian Museum”.
One of my clearest memories from the mid 1950s was crossing over the Mercier Bridge from Ville Lasalle to reach the “Indian Museum” in Caughnawaga. As a 7 year old, I was most fascinated by the little beaded handicrafts. I believe they were pincusions and the beading was set against a velvet (I think!) background in rich colours like purple and fuscia.
It’s located in the Mohawk community which is now known as Kahnawake.
“Cultural identities are commodities too. As Trudy Nicks points out, it is not so easy to dismiss the performance of Chief Poking Fire and his tomahawk chopping sons as bereft of cultural meanings. “Poking Fire’s village provided tourists with a restricted view of the lives of citizens of Kahnawake,but not one without local cultural and historical relevance. If the choice of representations accommodated twentieth-century tourist’s expectations, it was also an authentic expression based on a long history of negotiating cultural encounters with Europeans.” The struggle between Kahnawake residents over the images displayed at Indians Days illustrates the varied and complex ways Kahnawake residents understood themselves as twentieth century Indians. Over the years, they had learned to manipulate ‘Indian’ imagery ”
Teepees and Tomahawks