Pow wow time: My experience and why I enjoy them so much
Happy Easter to all! It is another sunny Spring day on the Canadian West Coast. Nature is awake and beautiful and love is in the air 🙂 Needless to say, I am feeling good! Before I go to a friend’s place for Easter dinner, I thought I would talk about something that does make me very happy: Pow wow time 🙂 If you follow this site’s Facebook page, you probably have seen that I went to a Pow wow last night. If not, click on the link I just inserted and go check out the videos I posted! This post will focus mostly on the Pow wow I attended last night. To learn more about the Pow wow ceremony, I strongly encourage you to read my previous article explaining it. But for now, it is Pow wow time!
What does a Pow wow mean to me?
Hmmm that is a good question that I am asking myself here lol!I I am the kind of person who, as soon as I hear the drums and singing, I smile. It touches my spirit. It really does. I cannot help but move my feet along, whether I am standing or sitting. It is my next goal, by the way, to formally learn Pow wow dancing. I can’t dance to regular music to save my life. But dancing to a Pow wow song, it comes easier to me. You follow the rhythm of the drum. That being said, I see some pretty complicated footwork out there and I would like to learn how to do those.
So I guess to me, a Pow wow means getting together to celebrate life, to celebrate the teachings and the beauty of the traditions. It is a place where traditions are alive and well. People really get together for the same purpose: to share the music and the dance. I am smiling as I am writing this because to me, there is nothing better than the smiles on everyone’s faces. The colors of the regalia (not a costume!, dancers are not dressing up for Halloween, they wear their traditions proudly), the paint on the dancers’ faces, the camaraderie among the dancers and the heart that the singers put into the songs. That’s what it is about.
Last night, I saw so many dancers helping one another. Tying a friend’s regalia on. Adjusting one’s feather. A woman, the woman below, offered me an extra shawl if I felt like doing a fancy shawl dance (to learn about the dance, see here). Thank you Francine, that was so nice of you! Even though dances by categories are meant to be competitive, that’s not the spirit that you will feel in the air. You will feel love for one another, you will feel friendliness and pure joy.
It’s a celebration and it is about respect
It is about respecting all the work that goes into it. One’s regalia often takes weeks to make. Weeks of hard work. Some dancers might be protective of their regalia. But go ask them what the meaning of it is. Regalia is often personal to the wearer. Ask if they mind sharing the meaning of it with you. Sometimes it could be related to their family history, to their spirit or traditional name. Don’t assume the meaning, ask. And be respectful of the dancers. They have their rituals as they get ready. Let them be! Don’t touch their regalia. Let them prepare for the dancing ahead. And just watch them dance, as they are giving you a lot of themselves in those dances. Respect them enough not to get too close, giving them the space they need and truly enjoy their dancing in all its beauty.
The art that can be found
It is about connecting with local artisans (for all of those asking me on my Facebook page where to buy jewelry, boots, jackets, etc, a pow wow is the place to go for that). I came back home with a beautiful shawl and a pair of very unique earrings. I am not kidding, there are always beautiful pieces to be found. And you will oftentimes get to connect with those who made them. Take the earrings that I bought for example. I learned from the artist that cedar root and cherry bark was used to make them. How cool is that! I would have never guessed. I always try to buy directly from the artists when I can and buying at a Pow wow is a good way of doing so.
And the food!! Let’s not forget the food 🙂 First off, you will be sure to find fry bread. I am actually thinking of selling mine at a Pow wow if I can. Because if I do say so myself, it is pretty good! And! You will also likely encounter “indian ice cream” at every Pow wow you go to. There is always someone making it. It is an acquired taste but I like it. Wondering what it is, read my article about it here.
A Pow wow is a beautiful ceremony
It really is. It is a way to reconnect to one’s ancestors, to our roots. To connect with the rhythm of the drum, to the singing full of spirit. And it is a place to pass down the traditions to the little ones. To see little children dancing at Pow wows, simply makes my heart swell. It is one of the most beautiful and touching thing one can see. I posted a video of juniors dancing last night on my Facebook page. Check it out!
If you have not figured it out by now, I love Pow wow time! The Pow wow I attended last night was just as beautiful as I expected. The colors were magnificent and the dancing brought tears to my eyes. So did the singing. The best part about it was that it was entirely organized by university students from the University of British Columbia, the grounds on which the Pow wow took place. Learn more about this particular event here. I wish I had had that opportunity when I was in university. To organize and take part in such a wonderful spiritual event. The organizers did a wonderful job! A’Ho to all who participated! I am leaving you with a few pictures of one of my staff who danced last night. Alicia, you rock!!!
So what are your experiences with Pow wows? Ever attended one? Do you love them as much as I do? Comment below 🙂
All my Relations