An opportunity to form new friendships and renew old ones, it’s a time for dancers to display their stunning regalia while they honour the powerful traditions of their ancestors; Pow Wows are not just for entertainment – they are a celebration of culture and spirituality, a time for prayer and ceremony, and to tell stories of war, history and honour through dance.
Nestled on the side of a hill in Lance Wood Park beside the sparkling waters of Chemong Lake, is a clearing surrounded by tall trees where the annual Curve Lake Pow Wow takes place on the third weekend of September. It’s an enchanted setting, perfect for these gatherings where singers and drummers sit in the centre of a circle while dancers move around them in a clockwise direction, engaging in a unique dialogue with their Creator.
It wasn’t always this way though. In 1876, the Indian Act made it illegal for the Indigenous people of Canada to conduct traditional ceremonies such as the Pow Wow. However, after petitioning by First Nations people these beautiful practices were revived, and now all are welcome to attend public Pow Wows. Respect for the ceremony, the regalia, and Pow Wow etiquette is imperative – direction is provided by an MC.
A sacred fire is lit on the Friday night and the Pow Wow begins with a sunrise ceremony at 6 am on Saturday. At noon on both days, Veterans are honoured for the sacrifices they’ve made, then all dancers take part in the Grand Entry. Throughout the day spectators enjoy Traditional Men’s and Women’s dancing defined by more subdued regalia, while Men’s Fancy and Women’s Fancy Shawl dancers bring vibrant splashes of colour to the circle – entrancing audience members with their swirling, complex movements.
Grass dancers also have colourful regalia and move their heads to the rhythm of the drum, while Jingle Dress dancers step through their special healing dance at a slower pace. The Intertribal dance provides an opportunity for audience members to join in the celebration of this rich culture that thrives on its connection to community through spirituality.