Anyone who attended the Samson Cree Nation powwow last weekend in Maskwacis most likely left inspired by the rich cultural experience that featured dancers and singers from all around North America.
Held at Bear Park the powwow was significant in that it featured a competition for the singers and drummers who not only competed for a $15,000 first place prize but also for a chance to compete at the Indian National Finals Powwow in Las Vegas, explained Holly Johnson, powwow chairperson.
“We had so many (22) nice and fantastic drum groups,” she explained.
A visiting group, Blackstone, ended up the winners of the competition and they will head to Las Vegas, Nevada to represent the Samson powwow in November. What makes a good group has to do with several factors, said Johnson. Singers are judged not only on their vocal abilities but their starters, rhythm and the cleanliness of their drums; plus what songs they choose for a specific dance.
Close to 900 dancers made their way to the powwow in full regalia with some outfits having a more contemporary look. Johnson says the outfits are priceless to the individuals as many have been handed down from generation to generation.
Some dancers modify their outfits with a modern twist. One dancer had an Oilers logo in his bead work.
One event from the weekend had everyone stop what they were doing. On the evening of Saturday, Aug. 13 a special spot light dance was held with eight men and eight women dancing under a spot light. Johnson said everyone couldn’t help but watch the fancy footwork and dancing.
A special princess pageant was also held with those young ladies being crowned and honoured for the next year.
The powwow is more than just a gathering of people, however, said Johnson. It’s a special healing time for First Nations people that is well recognized by dignitaries across the country.
“It’s a healing circle and the drums are the beat of the heartbeat,” said Johnson.
All of this could not have been done without financial and volunteer supports.
“I want to thank Neyaskweyak Chief for supporting us in utilizing the Bear Park,” said Johnson of the Ermineskin chief.
Johnson thanked major sponsors Peace Hills Trust, Peace Hills General Insurance and the Nipsikopahk Education Authority for supporting the teen, junior and tiny tot events.