“A lot of things were different this year,” Silver Lake Powwow organizer said. “Shabot Obaadjiwan gave us some funding and so we didn’t charge for admission to the Powwow, only donations.
“We were too busy to take a head count but by 2:30 p.m. there were 100 cars parked across the highway at the smoke shop.
“There just was no parking left in the park.”
One thing that was quite noticeable the minute you stepped through the gate was the colourful regalia. Not only were there more participants, but it seemed like their regalia was more elaborate than in recent memory. Often, the dance circle was a sea of magnificent colours the like of which hasn’t been seen before.
Danka Brewer, who served as announcer said there was more word of mouth and advertising this year but she had another theory that contributed to the full arena this year.
“I think a lot of dancers came out to show their respect and support for Annmarie Wilson, who passed away earlier this year,” she said. “I’ve been involved with the Powwow committee maybe 20 years and I’ve only seen it like this maybe once or twice.
“For the Grand Entry both days, the Flag and Eagle staff Carriers had to wait at the Eastern Entrance while all the dancers filed into the arena.”
And while the weather was quite hot, the arena was busy, with many dancers joining in, taking a break to get some water and/or sit a minute, and then joining back in.
The heat becomes a factor when you consider everything the dancers are wearing but still they continued on.
“It’s a workout, for sure,” Brewer said. “Anishinaabe aerobics.”
But, she said, regalia forms a big part in the spirit of a powwow.
“When you see Native dancers in regalia, that’s their best dress,” she said. “Many are wearing deer hide dresses, shawls, leggings, moccasins, breast plates, feather bustles, chaps.
“In many cases, that can add up to more than 20 pounds and the songs they dance to last five minutes on average.”
So why do they do it?
“It’s a spirit journey,” Brewer said. “It’s prayer time and you’re dancing on behalf of the Creator.”
All in all, the organizers were quite pleased with the way things went at the 24th annual Powwow, even if it was exhausting for many of them.
“We were worked to the bone,” Brewer said, chuckling. “I’m going to need two weeks to recover.”