The tipi is not even set up on the grounds of MHV and it is already creating conversations about the shared history of Mennonites and Indigenous people. 

Gary Dyck, executive director of Mennonite Heritage Village, announced in October that a tipi will be located on museum grounds. The announcement sparked many questions about the relevance of a tipi at a Mennonite museum. 

One of the people instrumental in making this happen for MHV in Steinbach is SRSS teacher Reid Bouvier, who is Métis and teaches Canadian History as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit studies. 

As Mennonite settlers arrived in Manitoba, he says they were provided with land that had previously been occupied. 

“Even though land claims and disputes were still taking place, the settlers were told that this was unsettled land and theirs to occupy,” says Bouvier. “There would have been, definitely, interactions. But from the settler perspective, there wasn’t a knowledge of what was going on. I don’t think the government was necessarily filling them in.” 

Monica Martens says her dad has childhood memories of living in the Grunthal area and seeing a tipi set up every year by a family who travelled through the region. 

She wishes her grandparents were around so she could find out more information about their interactions. 

Both Martens and Bouvier are hopeful that people will share stories of the shared history of Mennonite settlers and Indigenous people

During the past few years, Mennonite Historian Ernie Braun has spoken at a number of public events to share information on Mennonite pioneers in Manitoba. 

In December 2021, a replica of the Red River Ox Cart found a permanent home in Niverville. At the unveiling ceremony, Braun explained that the Crow Wing Trail was where the Red River carts were used to ferry goods up and down the railway tracks. 

Braun also explained that the role of Métis people in the arrival of European settlers in the 1870s. 

“The Métis were the go-to people for just about every service that you could imagine for the pioneers in the Southeast and in various parts of Manitoba,” he said. “They had the carts, they had the transportation, they knew the area intimately, and they were the ones who carted all the Mennonites’ luggage from the Rat River and the Red River. Carrying the sick, elderly, the children, and all the baggage.” 

Braun notes that sometimes it would have taken three days to transfer all the baggage from one steamer to the Immigration Sheds, located two miles south of Niverville. 

At each point of the immigration process to Manitoba, Braun indicated that the Métis and their cart were instrumental in assisting European settlers, particularly Mennonites coming to Niverville as this was near that actual point entry where Mennonites first stepped onto Treaty 1 land. 

The tipi will go up next spring at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. It will be located near the pond, accessible to museum visitors and visible to travelers along Highway 12.