Every year, the end of the summer here brings with it the annual Curve Lake Pow Wow.
This celebration consists of two days of dancing, contests and presentations, to re-establish old friendships and meet new people, with many vendors and performers in attendance. As every year, all of our neighbours from the surrounding towns are welcome to join us in most of the festivities.
The Pow Wow takes place only a few minutes' drive from Whetung Ojibwa Centre (see map). Just turn left at the first intersection beyond the Whetung Gallery and follow the sound of the drums!
We invite you to combine your tour of our gallery with your visit to this spectacular annual event for a day of cultural discovery and pleasant entertainment.
Below is some general information about the tradition of Pow Wows and a few points of Pow Wow etiquette.
Pow Wow time is the Native American people's way of coming together, to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships and make new ones. This is a time to renew thought of the old ways and to preserve a rich heritage.
Pow Wow singers are very important figures in the Native American culture. Without them there would be no dancing. The songs are of many varities, from religious to war to social. As various tribes gathered together, they would share their songs, often changing them so singers of different tribes could join. With these changes came the use of "vocables" to replace words. Yet they still hold special meaning to those who know the song. Many are still sung in native tongue, either newly composed or revivals of old songs. They are reminders of ancient ways and a rich heritage.
Dancers have always been a very important part of the life of the North American Indian. Most dancers seen at Pow Wows today perform social dances which might have had different meanings in earlier days. Although dance styles and content have changed, their importance has not. The outfits worn by the dancers, like the styles of clothing today, evolve over time - it is not a stagnant culture, but a vibrant and changing way of life.
Pow Wows are organized by committees that work for weeks before the event. On the Pow Wow grounds a designated Master of Ceremonies runs the events. The MC works with the Arena Director to keep the Pow Wow organized and running smoothly. These two individuals, along with the committee, work hard to bring the people together in dance and fellowship within the circle. The Curve Lake Pow Wow is organized by Gary Williams, along with many others from the Curve Lake Reserve.
The Pow Wow begins by the Grand Entry when all participants and honoured guests enter the arena. In some locations, this can also include a parade through the town. During the Grand Entry into the Pow Wow grounds, everyone is asked to stand as the flags are brought into the arena. The flags carried generally include the Canadian flag, tribal flags, POW flag, and the eagle staffs of various tribes present. These are usually carried by war veterans.
Following the veterans are other important guests of the Pow Wow, including tribal chiefs, elders, Pow Wow organizers and other honoured persons. Next in line are the men dancers. The men are followed by the women dancers. Once everyone is in the arena, a song is sung to honour the flag and the veterans. After a prayer the dancing resumes, usually with a few Round Dances. After the Round Dances, intertribal dancing songs are sung and everyone dances to the beat of the drum.
The MC will at times stop the dancing to announce special events and contests or call attention to the drums. Some dances are open to only certain dancers or groups, some are for the exhibition of certain regalia, such as the wonderful jingle dresses, while others could be especially for the honouring of the elders.