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Feature Article - September 8, 2005

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Feature Article

September 8, 2005

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Silver Lake Pow Wow

by Lesley McBride

Young_geoff_turner(click image for larger view) "One of our best Pow Wows ever," expressed a PowWow Committee member during the last weekend of August 2005. Many more Native drum groups participated; over 1,000 people attended & a particularly good energy prevailed. Elder Charlotte Green's Invocation Speech stated, "All come (all cultures) as One Mind...in Honour for our Ancestors that have walked before us in this special place and prepared it for us...we give thanks for all that lives...be healthy, be strong, have fun & be good to one another."Traditional Native processions followed, Grass Dancers first blessing the ground they walked upon - all National flags and Six-Nations flags as usual placed at the central Drum Arbor (among these the Canadian flag, despite how our government has confiscated their lands and rights), and of course the dignified procession of Veterans gave thoughtful pause.

The Native dancers' spectacular array of meaningful regalia, intricately-woven deerskin, colourful symbols, beads and feathers kept one's attention from being lost in the growing outer circle of vendors selling various Native, and other, art, crafts and foods. James, a young Native from B.C. told me he had flown out especially for this occasion.His positive attitude and drive to stay closely in touch with his people's traditional ways was heartening to see. A cool breeze kept clouds continually moving; even so, the Native dancers were really working through it all to be cool, stay on their feet and keep moving, expressing a living heritage.

M.C.s Sherman Butler and Stan Taylor urged everyone to get up and dance - a Pow Wow is given so all can participate (and thus learn more about the traditional ways of this Earth-oriented culture). More young people did try out the dancing, obviously enjoying it. Lots of little ones were often leading all the dancers, showing us how to freely move and enjoy oneself.

Later on Sunday, Jim Windigo, visionary Aishiabe gave some 'words of wisdom': “I began my life when I was five years old - I was given a vision.I didn't go to school because I knew what was going on behind. I knew we were losing our way of life; I'm trying to hang onto our language and medicine and ways and pass this on..." Willie Bruce spoke for the Veterans: "Look at the sacrifices they made - it's what you do with your next footstep that counts."

Near the end of festivities a male Hoop Dancer thrilled onlookers with amazing prowess, manoeuvring over a dozen white hoops all at once while dancing!

A Native Pow Wow really needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated and understood.Even lone and rootless white folks (such as I once was) are drawn in to become part of this moving, growing Circle of many cultures honouring the Native's heartfelt traditions of living in harmony with Nature and each other. We're invited in, they're the Originals, and we can learn how to step lightly upon the Earth as they do. The central force, the 'hub' of this wheel of activity, was the men's drum groups: Lil' Bear, Mud Lake Ramblers, Bull Rock, All Nation, Red Hawk. Women's drum groups (interspersed among the dances, while a Water Drum occasionally added its unique voice) were: Ogitcheta Singers, Wshkiigam Singers, Laughing Calf.

The men's drum groups gathered at the end of the day on Sunday in the Center, all playing at once – each group sang and beat upon their large drum. No microphone was needed, the collective Native Sound strongly resounded over Silver Lake.

Anyone interested in volunteering for next year's Pow Wow may call Trudi Knapp at 375-6356.

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