Washingtonian, Albertan, Ontarian and Manitoban First Nations joined British Columbians at the Tuckkwiowhum Village’s powwow Aug. 26-28
A keen eye would notice the difference between the designs of the Okanagan with a buffalo headdress, buck skin leggings, West Coast regalia with whales, ravens and wolves, or the Plains designs incorporating dog soldiers.
“Each tribe has their own interpretation, how they’ve adapted, how they’ve used the powwow itself in the bigger circle to address entertainment that we still practise — drumming, singing, prayers, adaptation, tobacco ties,” said Kwa Kwi La7 Kn (Gus Timoyakin), from the Okanagan Nation.
They celebrated life, traditions and teachings.
The powwow started Friday evening with an offering of tobacco from elders, chiefs and committee members to the drummers.
“It’s because you’re giving something to receive,” said Kwa Kwi La7 Kn.“They receive song, prayer, entertainment. And that’s what songs are — prayers.”
Drum music also signifies the heartbeat by Mother Earth.
The four drum groups that attended included Starchild, 379 Drums, Four Fives Society and the Fraser Canyon’s own Shadow Mountain.
The grand entry started just after 7 p.m. with flag-bearers holding the Métis, American, British Columbian and Canadian flags leading the way.
Then out came dancers from Inchelium, Wash., the Blackfoot of Alberta and the Cree of Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba, dancing on Nlaka’pamux territory.
“The first day is to bring the families together, to have organizers organize the people, the protocol of drummers between the host drum and the visitors’ drum,” said Kwa Kwi La7 Kn.
Over the weekend, they competed in seven categories including traditional, jingle, fancy shawl, grass dance, 50-and-over men’s and women’s.
The drum groups also competed against each other through judging of song, rhythm and consistency.
“It’s like winning points in a game,” said Kwa Kwi La7 Kn. “If you’re consistently there, you gain credits, you gain points.”
For the organizer of the powwow, Bernard Gilchrist, he said the powwow went very well.
“Based on people’s comments, we think it went very, very well,” said Gilchrist. “Because the three officers of the ceremony had said that they’d all like to come back next year.
“All of the drum groups that were here for the past weekend have said they would like to come back and they will be telling their friends about it and many of the dancers were very happy about … the hospitality they were offered.
“So just based on comments, we’re very, very happy.”