The Gathering Places 3

Red Hill Bowl – King’s Forest

Setting: Turtle Mound

The King’s Forest is a topographically diverse area with contains a cooler microclimate supporting rich forest growth including hardwoods and conifers. The King’s Forest contains an “interior forest” that is more that 100 metres from any edge. Migratory songbirds that require deeper forest are found here including Scarlet Tanager, American Redstart, Hairy Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Black-and-white Warbler, and Ovenbird.  Other wildlife including Southern Flying Squirrel, Grey Squirrel, Garter Snake and Brown Snake occur in this area.

The forest was first named Sherwood Forest, in reference to the tales of Robin Hood, but the name was later changed to honor King George IV of England (1936-52). In Europe, forests were the domain of the royal families and hunting was not allowed without permission. While hunting was once allowed in the Red Hill Valley, it has become restricted.

An early Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse) site, dated A.D. 800-A.D. 1300, was located within the King’s Forest Park. The people in that small village planted corn, lived according to family clans, and began to hold community councils to resolve their differences. Their core villages were surrounded by smaller camps and hamlets in order to hunt, gather and fish.

People of the Longhouse

Both societies lived in bark covered longhouse, which was made of wood poles lashed together, covered by elm bark. They are also known as Iroquoian societies, sharing a common language, and viewing themselves as one extended family, even though they retain their national identities such as Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora. The Haudenosaunee lived under one law – the Great Law of Peace – and have long connection to this Valley. When the Six Nations Reserve was established in 1784, timbers to build their new homes were cut at sawmills in this Valley. They also came here to collect medicine plants and minerals, as well as hunt and fish.

The Haudenosaunee is a matriarchal society with families organized into clans along female blood lines: three representing animals of the land (deer, wolf, bear); three of the waters (beaver, turtle, eel); and three of the skies (hawk, heron, snipe). To the Haudenosaunee, the women have a special relationship to the land, and the forest is a shared treasure, providing for all people, not just the chosen few.

The Longhouse

The Iroquoians lived in long, bark-covered houses. One of the largest excavated longhouses in Ontario measures 93.8 metres (303′) long and 8.4 metres (27′) wide. After the arrival of the Europeans, the houses became shorter and more compact.