The Pueblo of Acoma gathered ten departments to plan and participate in the gathering, and the involvement made for an especially well-rounded event. Beginning at Sky City, the Old Pueblo, where their ancestors have dwelled for well over 1,000 years, participants were honoured with a tour that concluded with young rain dancers who braved the snow and wind to welcome us to their home. This was figuratively and literally just the beginning.
Over the course of the next four days, the hosts would use the gathering to welcome the guests with feasts, tours, demonstrations, and talking circles. One of the first activities was making Corn meal pouches that are used by Pueblo people as offerings, much in the same way other tribes use traditional tobacco. Pueblo of Acoma governmental and spiritual leaders showed full support for the event. The Field Chiefs, once called War Chiefs, even welcomed the guests into their fields to assist with the harvest. Seasoned to working in the cold, the guests from the Northeastern tribes of Oneida, Seneca, Mohawk, and Onondaga made quick work of harvesting the Corn. The harvest would be delivered to the Field Chief’s home where the Cooks, or mother figures for the Chiefs, would store the Corn to prepare meals for the Chiefs throughout the year. The Chiefs also gifted a cob to each guest, a powerful gesture that moved the guests.
Many more activities took place across the week. Corn preparation demonstrations included building a fire to roast Corn in an horno and making delicious tamales with locally harvested salt. Roger Cook of Mohawk Nation sang alongside Jarrett Wheeler of Seneca Nation while Haudenosaunee women danced, inviting guests and hosts alike to dance with them. Angela Kingsawan led a demonstration on preparing herbal remedies for cough and a salve for aches and pains. Two films were shown, the second episode of Public Broadcasting Station’s series “Native America” focused on the influence of nature on Haudenosaunee and “The Power of the Canes” featured a history of the Pueblo of Acoma.
The week concluded with gifting from both the hosts and Braiding the Sacred followed by a Deer Dinner and Corn Dance which brought out the whole community. The Acoma gathering touched on the spiritual and practical roles Corn plays in our lives, and stories and teachings on how to care for Corn from hosts and guests were shared freely.