The Plains Pow Wow—- The Pow Wow is a spiritual as well as a social gathering to celebrate life. The Pow Wow brings together all nations, from different locations, speaking many languages. Creating friendship bonds that will hold together throughout generations to come. History—- Pow Wows on the prairies were banned at one time, when Canadian history developed what was called the Indian Act, in 1876. Pow Wows reflect on the struggles that confronted First Nations to retain their traditions and spiritual beliefs, as they never gave up hope. —- Today —- Unlike today, where Pow Wows have become the source of identity for First Nations which allows children to learn their Indigenous heritage. The Sundance was the main dance for the plains as it was a major spiritual ceremony. By the 1960’s Pow Wows started increasing once again as First Nations People continued to fight for their culture and traditions. —-The Start of the Pow Wow —- Before the Pow Wow begins, a sacred fire is lit at sunrise of the day the Pow Wow is to begin. It is the responsibility of the men to take care of the fire, so a man knowledgeable in the traditions and teachings of fire-keeping is selected and given tobacco and requested to take care of the fire for the duration of the Pow Wow. He is also responsible for making sure the fire stays lit and people visiting the sacred fire follow certain protocols. Only sacred medicines, such as tobacco and cedar, are placed in the fire and people enter the sacred fire area through the eastern doorway, smudge themselves usually with sage smoke, offer tobacco containing their prayers to the fire and move around the sacred fire in a clockwise direction exiting through the eastern doorway. —-The Grand Entry—- During the Grand Entry, staff carriers, flag carriers, elders, head dancers and all other dancers in regalia enter the Pow Wow circle through the eastern doorway, which is the only opening into the Pow Wow circle, also called the arena. There is an arena director who arranges the dancers into a certain order before the Grand Entry. All dancers are also smudged with sage smoke before entering the circle. Spectators are expected to rise and remove hats during Grand Entry and no pictures or videotaping is allowed at this time. There is a chosen individual to carry the Eagle Staff, as the eagle represents the one closest to the creator and represents farsightedness, strength and beauty as the eagle guards the eastern direction. —- Invocation—- There is an elder that does the prayer in an open circle that is gifted with tobacco. This is known as invocation. Songs honour the flags of all the nations that have been brought into the Pow Wow circle during Grand Entry. The flags are usually carried in by veterans or warriors. —- Regalia—- Dancers all wear their own unique outfits and are usually made by themselves, friends or family. The Pow Wow outfit is sacred and brings honour to the spirit world, the dancer, family and community. When in competition they are judged on rhythm, footwork, endurance and style. The Drum represents the heart beat of the Mother Earth. There are usually several drums at each Pow Wow. The singers are in drum groups that represent their own clans, as each clan has a distinct dialect of their language. —-The Giveaway—- There is a Giveaway ceremony that is done on a number of different occasions. There will often be a giveaway during a Pow Wow. When someone has something special happen to them and it is to express their gratitude for this gift. —- Dances—- Some of the popular crowd dances are traditional, fancy shawl, jingle, grass, hoop and prairie chicken. There are men and women categories for each of the dances. There is a Pow Wow trail that most traditional clans go on that travel throughout North America. The province of Saskatchewan is well known for hosting Pow Wows in Canada. —- Family- Making new friendships—- I really enjoy attending Pow Wows just to get out and meet new people, and see all the beautifully made outfits. The singers and drums also make me feel at peace with myself. I am proud that my granddaughter attends and dances. I dont make her outfits but my daughter and her mother in law do.
References: “Tawow” Welcome to Pow-Wow Country! Author: Patricia Deiter
Oral Pow Wow teachings from OCN - Joe Young, Rosina McGillivary, Nellie Beardy, Patti and Clarence Constant.
The Seven Teachings are part of the First Nations Peoples lives, living on the Prairies here in Canada
Suicide on reserves
Alcoholism on reserves
Pike Lake Culture Daylocal artist: Solomon Colomb 2002
A look back to The Oka Crisis, 13 years ago.Part of my Winter Count
Pearl exclaims;"Can I help you with your homework"
The ulu knife, traditionally the handle is made from caribou antler or walrus ivory. The blade was made of slate, until metal was introduced during the Fur Trade.
Art from Baffin Island.