Monday, July 4, 2011

PowWow On The Commons

This past weekend I got to go to my first PowWow ever. The 2nd annual Mawio’mi International PowWow that was held on the Halifax Commons (and please don’t ask me how you pronounce it ). Due to time constraints I had to choose between attending the PowWow or the Multicultural Festival. It was a tough choice because I love food and the Multicultural Festival always has an amazing food selection. But I’ve been to the Multicultural Festival before and I really wanted to see the Native Dancers.... and be able tell people that I’ve been to a PowWow.

Being Acadian, I should probably know more about Mi’kmaq culture than I do. I mean, they are the only reason my ancestors survived the first few decades in North America, right? I realized once I got there that I really knew little to nothing about PowWows. Their website is a really good place to start.

SOOO... Of course I showed up late and completely missed the afternoon dance performances. I did get to checked out the vendors and interactive Cultural Village with the big tepees.The event was really well set up and there were lots of people there from all different walks of life. The Interactive Village had several giant tepees that I stood in awe of. I’m not sure why, but my inner child was super excited to get to go into the tepees.

Each tepee had an individual inside that demonstrated a different aspect of traditional Mi’kmaq culture such as boxes and jewellery made from quills or basket making. One of the things that really struck me the most is the enthusiasm and willingness to share of the demonstrators. It was evident that they truly had a passion and were excited to have a place where they could share it freely with the rest of the world.

The vendors were easily visible and set up to somewhat accommodate the large crowds as best as they could. The vendors ranged from traditional hand carved commodities, handmade jewellery or painted art to very generic; you kind of see it at any market type of stuff. But they had a vendor that sold some very traditional stuff like squirrel and raccoon pelts and fox heads and tails. Yes, you read that right, Squirrel pelts. I had never seen pelts being sold at a vendor stand before, much less squirrel. They were softer than I expected. I almost bought one but then I thought, what am I really going to do with squirrel fur???

As for the food, let’s not talk about it because alls I seen for sale was Indian Tacos. They kind of looked like Pizza Delight Donairs minus the Donair meat. I seen several people with other different kinds of food but I’m not sure where they purchased it.

But I REALLY wanted to see the dancers so I cancelled my Saturday night plans and headed back to the PowWow after supper for the night performances and competitions. They started at 7pm and when I got their around 630pm the stands were already packed. I think next year they may need a bigger space for spectators. Some of the traditional costumes (if that’s what they are called) were amazing. The old guys in all their full feathers, jingles on their ankles and head pieces in their hair were my favourite. You could tell that their performance had a real special meaning to them. The “golden age” women dances I didn’t really care for, maybe I just don’t understand but I kids were soooo friggen cute to watch.

I was really happy I decided to come back for the dance competitions. It would have been worth it to just come and listen to the beat of the drums. Even though I couldn’t really tell one group from the next, the sound is soothing and hypnotizing, a very powerful effect.

And if that wasn’t enough, the sight of the tepees lit up at night in all the different colours was so beautiful and incredible. Pretty sure I’ll be going back next year.

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