A DAY AT THE POW WOW

Teepees at the Alderville First Nation Pow Wow grounds.

Teepees at the Alderville First Nation Pow Wow grounds.

THE ALDERVILLE FIRST NATION POW WOW

The annual Alderville First Nation Pow Wow took place in Alderville, Ontario just over a week ago. I had the pleasure, and the honour, to attend this sacred gathering which celebrates and pays homage to Indigenous peoples’ past and present with food, music, dancing and storytelling.

Spectators and participants at the Alderville First Nation Pow Wow.

Spectators and participants at the Alderville First Nation Pow Wow.

I was not sure what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was like a big family picnic gathering – laid back and relaxed, welcoming and friendly to natives and non-natives, complete with great food, crafts to buy, and entertainment.

When I arrived, it was just about lunch time, and I was starving. To my delight, there were various vendors set up along the outer edge of the pow wow grounds, offering everything from the usual hamburgers and hot dogs, to fish and chips, strawberry shortcake, and some more delectable offerings that you would not find elsewhere…I had vension on a bun while my friend had a home-smoked blueberry and Oktoberfest sausage. Both were delicious!

Some of the traditional crafts for sale.

Some of the traditional crafts for sale.

Once my belly was full, I wandered the craft stalls that offered a various assortment of goods, including woodworking items, drums, dream catchers, knives, beaded and silver jewelry, leather purses, medicine bags, exquisite moccasins, native bands’ flags and hats, and excellent pelts and tanned hides.

Bleachers and picnic tables had been set up around the grounds for seating, but most people had brought their own lawn chairs and pop up shade shelters. I recommend that if you plan on staying for the day that you do the same. There was ample seating, but bleachers can get uncomfortable, and there was no shade on the grounds.

The Jingle Dress Dancers.

The Jingle Dress Dancers.

In the middle of the pow wow grounds is a gazebo style roofed structure. It was from here that the MC was announcing, and where the drumming circle was located. Roped off around the outside of the gazebo was a grassy area where the dancers performed. From the bleachers I had a great view of the dancers and their incredible costumes as they danced in a large circle around the gazebo to the beating of the drums.

Fancy Shawl Dancers.

Fancy Shawl Dancers.

Some of the dances I watched included the Grass Dance, the Side Step Dance, which the MC said has healing properties, the Fancy Shawl dancers, the Jingle Dress dances, which utilize a unique costume covered in little metallic bells, and the Chicken Dance, in which part of the dancer’s costume includes a ring of feathers strapped to backside acting as tail feathers. I think my favourite dance was the Hoop Dance, which is a Hopi healing dance from New Mexico, and involves the dancer using small hoops, (like hula hoops but with a diameter of less than a meter), to make intricate shapes. It was an amazing sight!

I was not able to stay for all of the pow wow, which also includes Ceremonial songs, storytelling and drumming circles, but I certainly had a great time at this family-oriented event.

The Hoop Dance, a Hopi healing dance, originating in New Mexico.

The Hoop Dance, a Hopi healing dance, originating in New Mexico.

I had the opportunity to learn more about Native traditions in a relaxed, positive and welcoming atmosphere, I chatted with vendors from all over Ontario about their wares and how things are made, I saw some beautiful costumes and traditional dancing, I bought some lovely native crafts, and I ate some delicious food. Sounds like a pretty perfect way to spend a summer day to me. And so it was.

The Alderville First Nation PowWow takes place annually over a weekend at the Alderville Pow Wow grounds on Roseneath landing Road in Alderville, Ontario. Check the Alderville website below for specific dates.


 

THE ALDERVILLE FIRST NATION POW WOW

CHECK THE WEBSITE FOR ANNUAL DATES

THE ALDERVILLE POW WOW GROUNDS

off Roseneath Landing Road between County Rd. #18 & the Third Line of Alnwick-Haldimand

WEBSITE: ALDERVILLE FIRST NATION