An Ancient Bond with the Land

Trade Fairs

In ancient times, Aboriginal peoples travelled to trade fairs to meet with groups from far away. Trade fairs enabled peoples to share resources and ideas, and contributed to an exchange network that spanned North America. Today, many First Peoples go to pow-wows - social gatherings that feature many of the same activities as ancient trade fairs.

Pipe smoking was part of an ancient ceremonial pattern in the Great Plains of North America. A large calumet pipe with a red stone bowl, and long flat stem from which feathers were suspended, was a respected symbol of peace, honour and solemnity. When strangers met, showing such a pipe indicated a request for safe passage, an invitation to conciliatory talks, or the desire to establish fictive kinship or an alliance.
Drawing: Susan Laurie-Bourque
© Canadian Museum of Civilization

Pipe - Drawing: Susan Laurie-Bourque

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Landscape photograph:
Ian Dyck, Canadian Museum of Civilization (ID-01-031)