What a fun day! This past weekend, NaMeRes held their first in-person Annual Traditional Pow Wow since covid happened. I attended for the first time (it was also my first pow wow ever) with friends, and it was so joyful! The experience was so full and rich I can’t capture it all for you (and some things can’t be captured anyway, it was to be experienced in person). I did take some pics and videos of pow wow dances (all with permission of the event hosts), and shared them with you below. I hope you enjoy! Here are some highlights of my reflections on the day: 🔶 I felt so WELCOMED by the Anishinaabe, Haudensaunee Confederacy, and other Indigenous nations hosting us that day. I was hesitant at first to go because even though I knew it was public and Indigenous friends encouraged me to join pow wows, I didn’t know what to expect, and I worried I’d be too much of a spectator. But it wasn’t like that at all! There were times when the dancing was JUST for Indigenous people, certain nations, or Indigenous people in regalia. Other dances were open to everyone, and the MC encouraged ALL people to join in. It was awesome to see people of all races, genders, and abilities dancing together on the grass without barriers. What an example of true community!
🔶 Contrast this HOSPITALITY and ACCEPTANCE by the Anishinaabe hosts with the colonization (assimilation/segregation/extermination) practiced by white European colonizers…there are no words. What a spirit of generosity and forgiveness by the Anishinaabe that they would still invite us to join in their pow wow! 🔶 Abilities/competencies were irrelevant. I didn’t know the dances, but I could still join in by following what others were doing. And it’s not like there was a right/wrong way to dance either! There was no shaming or finger pointing, only an open invitation to dance as we felt led. I also saw people in wheelchairs, with canes, and with developmental disabilities, who participated fully in the open dances. It was a beautiful feeling of inclusion.
🔶 We learned as well as watched. The MC took care to explain what each of the dances were, the traditions and history behind them, and who and why would be dancing them. He was clear when certain dances could not be filmed/photographed, and encouraged us to take pics and share online when it was OK. I felt truly engaged in the culture of the Anishinaabe and Indigenous people present, not just that I was watching a show.
🧡 My favourite part: the healing jingle dance. This was one we couldn’t film, so let me explain. It’s danced only by women who were wearing jingle dresses (dresses with ornaments on them that make “jingling” sounds when they move). The pow wow hosts provided free tobacco for ANYONE to take and give to a jingle dancer as a gift in exchange for their healing dance. As guests gave the handful of tobacco to the dancer, they also shared what they needed healing for. I could feel the healing power of the moment just sitting and watching.
What are you doing for National Indigenous Peoples Day and National Indigenous History Month?
You can attend a pow wow near you (happening throughout the summer), and/or you can contribute to your local Indigenous economy by supporting Indigenous businesses and charities. At the pow wow, I bought a beautiful pair of bead earrings from Joy Rogers who makes them all by hand. Check out her jewelry shop here: Karahkwa Jewelry
The host of the pow wow, Na-Me-Res, helps unhoused Indigenous men. According to their website: "15% of people experiencing homelessness in Toronto are Indigenous – even though we only make up 0.5% of the city. This imbalance is the source of our mission to help homeless Indigenous men rediscover their mino bimaadiziwin – living a good life in health. Na-Me-Res provides outreach, temporary, transitional, permanent housing, and much more. We take care of the whole person with our Indigenous cultural-based approach filled with respect and spirit." You can donate to them directly here: https://www.nameres.org/donate/
SHORT VIDEO FROM NA-ME-RES POW WOW DANCING Men's Duck and Dive Dance:
You can find more videos on my YouTube Channel.
MORE PICS FROM NA-ME-RES POW WOW DANCING:
Friends, I’d love to hear how you’re celebrating #NIPD #NIHM and if you’ve ever attended a pow wow! Message me on LinkedIn or email me to share your thoughts, I always enjoy hearing from and engaging with you!