Muskeg Lake has always recognized that our culture as a whole is not only important to the community but to the individual as well. Over the last twenty years, Muskeg Lake has readily put time and resources into connecting the community members with numerous cultural events, workshops, and guests.
With the goal of inspiring and engaging its own members to involve themselves with our own cultural identity and the bands, Muskeg Lake has clearly set out guidelines for its Cultural Program:
- Each child, youth, and adult will begin to learn the meaning of Culture and what it means to our community
- Culture must include not only our First Nation’s culture in general, but also the culture of our own community, the province, and the nation as a whole
- This program will not only include the return and strengthening of the Cree culture but will include the diversification of each youth’s own identity and perspectives within culture in general
- We hope to provide an atmosphere where the youth and adults of MLCN will want to learn, enjoy and practice not only the arts but many different cultural components of various nations, as well as our own.
Elders are given the responsibility to keep the memory, history, and knowledge of our Nehiyaw ancestors. They possess the knowledge and understanding of teachings and share life experiences and stories to help the people make decisions. Elders are important in the resolution of personal, family, and community matters and are the voice of moderation, experience, and guidance.
While anyone can claim to be an “Elder” simply because they are older than the most current generation, those that are considered Elders are in fact men and women that have been in trusted with ceremonies, practices, and teachings by others that came before.
“The dance they performed was one of celebration and pride. Pride in their medicine and pride in their good fortune as members of a family, a society, and a tribe. These dances were based in pride. We still see that pride today (Roberts 1992:17).”
As a community, Muskeg Lake has only recently returned to the celebration of the Pow wow. Usually held during the summer months, the Muskeg Lake Traditional Pow wow is a gathering of the community and guests held to celebrate our signing of the Treaties and the return to our roots.
Held once a year, the camps involve the youth, elders, and the community in a traditional setting. Once there, the group immerses itself in a cultural setting instructing the basics of the Cree Nation teachings. The group participates in sweats, cooking, medicine gathering, arts and crafts, language immersion, and storytelling throughout the two weeks.
Box Lacrosse due to its similarity to hockey has quickly become a major sport in North America and that is no different in the Community of Muskeg Lake. Participation of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation athletes has grown in the past few years and with its possible inception into the North American Indigenous Games will become even more popular among First Nations. Lacrosse has been played for centuries amongst Indigenous people in North America and has recently found its way into our youth’s hearts. Box Lacrosse has grown in popularity in Saskatchewan and Muskeg Lake as well. It has a great future in Muskeg Lake and will be supported so that it remains a part of the Muskeg Lake Community.
Many of the current residents from Muskeg Lake have the knowledge of building Tipi’s. These are usually set up during the Treaty day and Pow wow celebrations. As a community, we’ve learnt from our elders about the teachings held within the act of building one as well as the teachings behind the components of the tipi.
There are many traditional medicines found on our home reservation. Sage, both Buffalo and Horse, sweet grass, mint, and many other traditional plants are found not only on the island but throughout the reserve as well.
Pakesîwin (The Hand game) is for four or more players: When anthropologist David Mandelbaum visited the Plains Cree in 1934, the elders told him this game was taught by the Flathead tribe to those Cree who took temporary refuge in the United States after the rebellion of 1885. Since then, it has evolved as the most popular gambling game among all tribes in Saskatchewan.
The playing piece consists of two bones or wooden cylinders. One is marked with a cord or a ring of bark, the other is left plain. The object is to find the unmarked piece; the other is to add confusion to the game.
To further confuse and taunt the opposition, lively songs are sung by the hiding team. The singers beat an accompanying rhythm to their songs on a log placed before the team or by using individual hand drums.
Traditionally, stakes included belongings such as a horse or a coat. Wagers still take place between individuals; the stakes are always of equal value; Long ago, if one man bet his tipi against another man’s clothing; they might agree that the tipi was worth five times as many points as the clothes, so the man betting the clothing would have to win five games to win the tipi, while the man wagering the tipi could win the clothing in one game. (SICC: 1992)