• Voices from the Gathering PlaceSault Ste. Marie: 1622 - 1870

Die Stromschnellen von St Marie (The Rapids Of St Mary), Frank Buchser, 1868

By kind permission of the Kunsthaus Art Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland

This website was created by teacher Peter White for the Algoma District School Board

The Music Board



















 Meda Song, Library of Congress, Published 1851 in Historical and statistical information respecting the history, condition and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft

This drawing is probably a reproduction of a "music board" used by Shingwaukonse at a demonstration of a Meda society ceremony at Sault Ste. Marie in 1820. (Today the society is known as Midewiwin.)


The Indian Agent at Sault Ste. Marie, Henry Schoolcraft, was very interested in First Nations religious ceremonies and so, in 1820, he invited a group of Anishnaabe to his office after he saw, "in the hands of one of them, a thin quadrangular tubular piece of wood, covered with hieroglyphics, cut in the surface, and painted in strong colors of red, black, green and other colors."


In the article from his magazine The Literary Voyager  from 1827 he continues:


The evening having arrived, and the Indian Medas, being assembled, with their musicians, and sacred pouches under their arms, the door was carefully locked, and the window curtains closely put down. The master of ceremonies, Shingwauk, came forward and seated himself near me, laying his inscribed music board, on my table, and commenced his songs, agreeably to the order of the notation, figure by figure.


Years later, in his book with the incredibly long title, Historical and statistical information respecting the history, condition, and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States; collected and prepared under the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs per act of Congress of March 3rd, 1847, Schoolcraft included the "music board" as an example of a Meda song though he did not credit it to Shingwaukonse.