Today we experienced our first outing as summer students for Discover Miramichi. Upon arrival at Metepenagiag Heritage Park we were greeted by two of the summer staff, Hunter and Logan. They would eventually be guiding us through the teepee building process, but we were scheduled to explore the interpretive center first.
From left to right: Hunter, Nathan, Sarah and Rachel in the front.
Inside, just across from the front desk they displayed a handmade canoe constructed from birch wood. This historical piece by one of the elder men as we learned that all wood related items in the community are man made, where the women’s role is primarily bearing children and are respected for the spiritual and mental strength it takes to carry through.
Tying north and south to a door sounds like a lot of work, but really it’s not as hard as you may think. Putting together a teepee is a tradition that has been on for centuries in our First Nation’s communities, however, it’s more like an art. At the park, we learned how to put one together starting from 15 spruce trunks, a long rope, and canvas to wrap around. Spruce is what we used for wood today, but you can use multiple different types of wood including maple and fir; however, spruce lasts a lot longer than the other woods so it can stand up for longer periods of time.
It took us three tries to put our tee pee up. You may be thinking why? To answer your question, that’s because all tee pee’s are different in dimension, size, and longevity. Most tee pees are not quite a perfect cone, they are longer on the door side and shorter in the back. On top of that, no two tee pees are the same, they all have slight, or major differences when you build them.
It was a very cool experience which you can’t find anywhere else! Today we got the chance to set up the tee pee, but anyone else looking for a unique adventure with some friends, or all alone, you can easily rent one of the tee pees to spend the night in!
After we finished setting up the tee pee, we decided to finish off our day by heading down to the river. Hunter showed us how to drive the golf kart, and we were able to drive it down to the river. I think we can all agree that it was definitely one of the major highlights of our day. On our way down to the river we stopped along the trails to snap some pictures and take in the breathtaking view. Once we arrived, we noticed a group of people tubing. Hunter explained that it was an ideal area for tubing and that there are also some great fishing spots farther up the river. One thing we also did while admiring the captivating river, was practice our rock skipping skills! We carefully hand picked the rocks we felt worked best and observed who could skip their rock the most times.
Overall, our day at Metepenagiag Heritage Park was one for the books. We had the opportunity to learn about their heritage and culture, experience setting up the tee pee for ourselves, and make new friends along the way. There are many activities you can organize at Metepenagiag including A Taste of Metepenagiag, also known as “Ookdotaan”. This is a guided tour of the Mi’kmaq community where you can enjoy their traditional food. You can also take part in tee pee retreats and hike through the trails.