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Pow wow: expression of First Nations’ identity

By 26 June 2017Blog

The Pow wow circuit is launched for the season and number of events of the kind will happen in Canada and in the United States.  Traditionally, Pow Wow were religious manifestations related to shamanism or were held to emphasize the exploits of warriors. For Aboriginal people, it is a gathering that also allows the meeting and exchange between families and friends. They are also events where all are invited, where a festival of colors and feathers that adorn the regalias demonstrate the work of talented craftsmen. The design of a regalia often represents the work of several years, where everyone tries to magnify and make it more personalized. Clear and sacred rules govern the Pow Wow, both for the participants and for the public.

A little history…

The Pow wow would have originated with the Pawnees two centuries ago and would have spread to the Omahas thereafter, two United States nations. Other historians attribute the origins of this event to the Warriors Society called Grass Dancers. The more modern version, the one still presented today, appeared 100 years ago in the Northwest of the United States and Canada. Amerindian dances were badly perceived by non-natives because they saw dances of war. Christian religious authorities, on the other hand, opposed all traditional religious manifestations, which included dances and ceremonies.

In Canada, the Indian Act, specifically the 1895 amendment, banned all ceremonies where native participants could receive donations, even in the form of gifts. In 1914 traditional dances and the wearing of traditional clothing outside the communities were banned, under severe consequences. And in 1925, the Pow wow, La Danse du Soleil and the sweat lodges were officially forbidden.

It was not until 1951 that a revamping of the Indian Act resulted in the legitimate resumption of the Pow Wow in Canada. The turn of the Pow Wow that we know today takes a more festive and cultural turn. This also gives rise to encounters based on healing, sobriety, cultural expression and pride in identity. Competitions of dances and drums, fairs, tastings and exhibitions and sales of indigenous crafts are included in the schedule of these weekends and causes the participants to move to attend several of them, on Thousands of kilometers.


Following next week!