Iroquois Indians To Observe Centenary (1945) Surnames: Bernard, Tonsahoten
Seven Hundred Iroquois Indians in full tribal costume will parade the streets of Caughnawaga on Sunday, June 17, in celebration of centenary of the laying of the corner-stone for the present Church in their almost three-hundred-year-old mission of St. Francis Xavier.
Following the parade, which will begin at two o’clock, the Indians will stage a pageant in the Chruch grounds. The pageant will portray dramatically the history of the mission from the arrival of the first Iroquois down to the present day. It will tell of the arrival of the first Christian Iroquois to come to the mission, Chief Tonsahoten, who arrived from his village in the Mohawk valleh with his wife and five companions, none of whom had yet been baptized. Then the growth of the settlement will be traced, five families in 1668, twenty in 1669 and a village of 300 souls two years later. Dramatic sketches will portray the arrival in the mission in 1677 of Kateri Tekakwitha and her saintly life and eath.
Then the story will be told of how the mission as moved from the site on which Kateri lived to another one half-a-league farther up the river. This change occurred eight months after the Lachine massacre in 1689. When the pagan Indians made their sudden attack, the Christian Iroquois sought protection by crossing to the island of Montreal. When it was again safe, they recrossed the river and occupied their new location. In 1716 the village moved again, this time to its present site, which the French called Sault St.Louis, the Indians Kahnawake (the rapids) and which the English through mispronunciation and misspelling called Caughnawaga, the name by which it is now known.
The Church erected at that time proved too small and a new one was erected in 1845. It is the erection of this new church, the present one, which is being celebrated on June 17.
The pageant will conclude with a representation of present-day Caughnawaga, its inhabitants and the various occupations will follows. Caughnawaga Indians have gone out from their village to distinguish themselves in various professions and trades at well as in the business world. They have gone into the priesthood, law architecture, medicine and other professions. The women have become teachers, office workers, skilled factory workers and most of them have retained their traditional skill in such domestic arts as bead-work, weaving and basket-work. An exhibition of this Indian craft will be one of the features of the pageant.
A further attraction will be the singing of the well-known Caughnawaga Mixed Choir under the direction of the Rev. Father Bernier, S.J., composer and conductor. Selections will be rendered during the pageant by l’Orchestre Symphonique Ste-Cecile de Montreal. Two bands will also be on hand to play in the parade and during the afternoon.
The celebrations will conclude with solemn benediction held in the open air, on the banks of the St. Lawrence directly behind the Church. The Iroquois Mixed Choir will sing.
The public is cordially invited to come to Caughnawaga on June 17 and join the Indians in celebrating the hundredth anniversary of their church.
Source: The Canadian Register, June 16 1945
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