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A glimpse at The Heart of Youth Powwow

As many of you may know, I attended the first in person gathering since 2019 for the Living Skies Regional Council Annual Meeting that was held in Prince Albert in late May. We were privileged to be invited to attend “The Heart of the Youth Community Powwow” in the city on May 29th, and wow what a beautiful and inspiring event!

This post is my attempt to give you a very small taste of what I experienced that weekend. I hope it moves you to try out a Powwow near you, it touched me deeply spiritually, as well as reminding me of what inclusive, grace filled community can look like. The event drew some 3300 plus from schools and communities in the area, and in traditional Indigenous fashion all who attended experienced the true hospitality and generosity as everyone was admitted and fed at no cost to them. Financial capacity or lack there of was no barrier for anyone to experience this beautiful cultural and educational event.

The following are short video clips of various elements of the Powwow:

Grass Dancers (for more info click on title)

The grass dance or Omaha dance is a style of modern Native American men's pow wow dancing originating in the warrior societies on the Northern Great Plains.[1] Unlike most forms of pow wow dancing, the grass dance regalia generally has no feathers besides the occasional roach feather. The regalia consists of brightly colored fringe made of either yarn, broadcloth, or ribbon. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

A dancer in Bear Regalia

Fancy Shawl Dancers

Origins

The women's Fancy Shawl Dance is the newest addition to the contest powwow dances. According to tradition, this style of dance emerged in the early 20th century in the Northern Plains area as a counterpart to the men's Fancy Dance. In the early 1900s, the traditional animal skin robes of Indigenous peoples were replaced with shawls that women often sewed themselves. In the 1930s, young Indigenous women would display these shawls by doing fancy footwork during dances. By the 1940s, a number of teenage girls grew frustrated that they were not allowed to perform the men's Fancy Dance. They challenged the status quo by dressing in men's outfits and danced at a powwow in South Dakota, paving the way for the women's Fancy Shawl Dance.

Another tradition says that the women's Fancy Shawl Dance has its roots in a ceremonial dance called the Butterfly Dance. The shawl, as a result, is meant to symbolize the wings of a butterfly, and the fancy steps and twirls represent its style of flight. This imagery is fitting for young women coming of age, as they metaphorically emerge from their cocoon into adulthood. (Powwow Dances | The Canadian Encyclopedia)


Chicken Dancer (click for more info)

The native prairie chicken dance symbolizes the strong interconnection between Indigenous people, wildlife, and nature. Natives have performed this magical mating dance for centuries and will continue to honor the tradition for years to come. We must appreciate the traditional prairie dance and take action to conserve this species and continue witnessing its beauty for future generations. Let us join together and celebrate Native prairie dancers while advocating for conservation efforts of this avian species in the process. There is much to learn from our Native American brothers and sisters about coexisting peacefully with nature. Let's ensure the next generations get to enjoy these symbolic birds. (Powows.com)

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