The journey of the Pow wow trail starts at home by making a regalia (dancing costume) with wonderful colors or and learning the traditional ways of dancing or drumming. You can start at a young age or may join at any time in your life. Driving to and camping at pow wows all over the world. You can enter pow wow competitions which you can place for money or honorariums both in dancing and drumming. Families will usually travel together and camp together.
There are many different types of dancing events. These are a few of the ones we have at the Skeetchestn pow wows:
Tiny tot dancers are usually age 7 and under. These young dancers are just starting out on their pow wow journey. To get them involved from a very young age is really good. The sooner to learn the cultural and traditional ways the better understanding they will have as they grow up.
The Princess pageant is a special event that takes place at the pow wow. A dancer has to earn their way to being crowned as a princess. To do this they need to sell tickets, get involved, help out with many activities, be a good role model, help elders, and introduce herself to everyone, and do a talent presentation. You then can sign up to be the princess by registering at a pow wow and you get given a number. The judges are some elders and selected few that give points to the dancers for many different things. After a princess is crowned she must represent that band that gave her the crown by going to all pow wow events and many grand opening ceremonies. Collect donations and gift items all year from family and friends, and others. Dance at many pow wows, and all over be a great helper and good role model. At the end of the year she must then come back to the pow wow that she earned her crown from and retire it to the next princess. Prior to this a give away is done. This is done in appreciation by her giving out gifts that she has collected all year. The tiny tots are first to receive gifts then others and elders. Many gifts are given to those that helped her on her pow wow trail. A special song is sung and drummed for her and a last dance before she gives up the crown to the next princess.
Drumming and singing are other events that take place at a pow wow. Some of the songs sung are honor songs, songs for all categories of dancing, hand drumming songs, and large group drumming songs. The number of drummers depends entirely on the groups’ decision. They have at least two lead singers. This way if one is to loose his voice the other can take over. They usually have one person to look after the drum and drum stand at all times. Individuals make the drumsticks themselves upon preference.
It takes many volunteers and a committee to host a pow wow. There is always a MC that announces all events taking place. As well as an arena director that takes care of the dancers and the circle. There are people who take care of the registration to make sure all drum groups, vendors, and royalty (princesses and braves) are registered. There is a head cook to take care of all the food preparation and organization in the kitchen. We also have Security personnel to make sure everything runs smoothly as well as make sure the pow wow is a drug and alcohol free event. The pow wow committee organizes all the sound equipment and raises money throughout the year to host the pow wow. As well as making arts and crafts and give away gifts. So a great effort and a lot of volunteers’ time are put forth into hosting a pow wow. Thank you to all those involved.
There are a lot of pre pow wow activities that must be done before hand. These may include Friday morning sunrise ceremony where smudging and drum songs are done to cleanse and bless the arbor. A mixture of Rose hips and sage and juniper are prepared and spraying down of the arbor is done to ward bad spirits away before and after the pow wow. The medicine wheel colors are to be hung up around the arbor as well. There will be sweats going on as well throughout the weekend Different native cultures have different ceremonies and events that take place not all are done the same.
A lot of food will need to be prepared. Breakfasts Saturday and Sunday mornings usually takes place. The dinner Friday night is also a spread of many different foods that may be set out. There is a Traditional Feast, which includes a lot of preserved and collected foods from our own Traditional Territory. This may include deer and moose meat, fish, soopolallie, bannock and many more delicious foods. This year at the summer pow wow we will be having a pit cook going on. Which is a variety of foods prepared by cooking them underground with steam. There will be many vendors selling food, pop, arts, crafts, bannock, Indian ice- cream, and many other products.
The pow wow starts Saturday at 1:00 pm with a grand entry. This is where blessing the arbor and honoring everyone that came to this event is done. Usually an eagle staff is carried around the arbor in a circle by an honorary traditional dancer. Followed by the royalty and elders, and flag carriers. They have an elder do a prayer and Chief or Councilor does a welcoming. The pow wow can now take place. The flags are brought back in again before dinner and then after dinner. Then they retire the flags around 10 or 11 pm.
Pow wows are a great way to make friends, have fun and enjoy some cultural activities and eat great food. Everyone is welcome.
Pow Wow information Provided by Carol Deneault