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Indians of Canada - Expo Montreal 1967

Indians of Canada at the Exhibition Expo Montreal 1967
Architect(s) : J. W. Francis

The participation of the Indians of Canada in the 1967 World's Fair is mainly reflected in a gigantic stylised wigwam made of wood and steel, some 100 feet high.

A 65-foot totem pole stands on the terrace. It is a unique piece carved by Pacific Coast Indians from a British Columbia cedar tree. At the top is a great raven - the thunderbird - a grey bear and a killer whale; a "sisuitl" - a two-headed Indian hydra - and a man; a killer whale devouring a seal; a beaver; and at the bottom a tribal chief.

The pavilion's storyline, developed by Indian leaders from across Canada, is about the difficulties between "redskins" and "palefaces", the role of the Church and the Canadian government with the Indians, the making of treaties and the creation of Indian reserves.

Upon entering the pavilion, visitors will notice a nine-foot sculpture of a man with his arms outstretched in greeting. According to tradition, in some Indian tribes, such figures were placed in front of the big house of the village as a sign of welcome to the chiefs of neighbouring tribes and their friends who came to attend the great feasts and winter dances.

The first area of the pavilion features Indian crafts, as well as carvings and paintings, by artists from several tribes across Canada.

A next section shows the beauty of the pristine land that the pre-contact Indians knew, the love and respect of Canada's first inhabitants for all that lives and grows, and their reverence for the Great Spirit, creator of the world.

Another part of the pavilion explains the way of life of the Indians of the past: their homes, their tools, their occupations and their affinity with nature.

The great adventurers from Europe and the coureurs de bois received much from the Indians, who welcomed them generously, guided them in their explorations, fed them, housed them, and introduced them to the use of canoes, snowshoes and toboggans.

Further on, it is about the adaptation of today's Indians to a technological world, about their ingenuity in using the resources at hand while preserving the moral and spiritual values of their ancestors, about their collective and political organization.

A photo gallery shows hunters, trappers, guides, fishermen, craftsmen, and farmers. It also shows doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, shopkeepers, radio and television announcers, secretaries, telephone operators and airmen.

Of course, the question of reserves is raised, which raises a huge question mark over the future of an entire human race. Assimilation or survival? A symbolic flame under the tip of the tent expresses the dreams and aspirations of the Indians.

© Expo67 - General Report