Kettle Point Pow Wow
One of the big summer events in Southwestern Ontario is the annual Kettle & Stony Point First Nation Pow Wow, held every year in July. This year we were actually able to attend this phenomenal cultural experience. Everyone is welcome and there were numerous guests streaming through the grounds by the time we arrived. There are stands surrounding the Pow Wow grounds, however I would definitely suggest bringing a blanket or chair. The cultural event features, singing, dancing, arts, crafts, traditional foods, a drum contests, and of course the Pow Wow competition.
Ontario’s indigenous people call themselves the Anishinabek Nation (the “Anishinaabe”) and are comprised of thirty-nine First Nation communities. Anishinaabe cultural practices are centred on the “Seven Grandfathers” teachings of Wisdom, Love, Trust, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility and Truth.
This Annual Pow Wow Competition is held by the Chippewas of Kettle & Stony Point. Named for Kettles or spherical rock formations, that are unique to only three locations in the world. These Kettles have special cultural and spiritual significance. Traditional stories teach that the point is the nesting grounds for the great Thunderbirds; which are powerful spirits that bring healing rains to the land and its people. And consequently, the Kettles are the Thunderbird’s eggs.
A Pow Wow is a spiritual sacred occasion, celebrating indigenous heritage and culture. So, it is understandable that it was held on this unique spiritual ground. Lake Huron breezes flowed through the crowds as beats from the sacred drums could be felt deep down into your soul. On both the Saturday and Sunday, the day began with the magnificent ‘Grand Entry’. This indicated the official opening of the Pow Wow. Dancers were called to enter the arena in a good way, to dance behind the Veteran, Flag Carriers, Head Dancers, and for the first time this year the Pride Flag was included. Dancers, drummers, singers, and vendors come from across Canada and the United States to participate in this annual event. Natives and non-natives of all ages filled the stands, with large smiles plastered on their faces, swaying to the beat. Throughout the afternoon, over two-hundred dancers in full regalia competed in traditional native dances. Numerous vendors and food booths spotted the grounds featuring: art, clothing, jewellery, beadwork, fresh Lake Huron fish, handcut fries, native flatbread, strawberry shortcake, and fresh lemonade.
At the end of the day, everyone leaves knowing that they have been part of something culturally special. Thank you to Kettle & Stoney Point for giving us all the opportunity to learn and witness this colourful unforgettable celebration.
Each dancer’s regalia is considered to be very personal, often with a deep sentiment or spiritual meaning. Dancers invest a lot of time into creating a unique and striking regalia. Traditionally, a dancer’s regalia would tell a story. Some items may be handed down through the generations, or may have been created by a loved one. You can identify the dance style or each individual Pow Wow dancer by his or her regalia whether they are traditional, fancy, jingle or grass dancer.
STYLES OF DANCE
Men’s TradItIonal: a dance that is a story in motion. Movements and gestures are deliberate and precise, signifying tracking and hunting prowess. Some movements may imitate a bird or animal, or may indicate exploits in battle. The dancer’s steps are close to the earth. The regalia of the Traditional Dancer are made of natural material, animal hide and pelts, antler and bone, accentuated with intricate beadwork. Most Traditional Dancers wear only one bustle, ornately decorated with eagle feathers.
Men’s Grass Dance: originated on the prairies where the Grass Dancers helped prepare the clearing for the Pow Wow, by dancing and flattening the long grasses with their rhythmic, sweeping steps. The Grass Dancer’s smooth, graceful movements imitate the long prairie grasses blowing in the wind.
Men’s Fancy Dance: The Men’s Fancy Dance is fast and furious. The steps are bouncier and higher, punctuated by quick spins, jumps, and bends. The Fancy Dancer wears two multi-coloured bustles, with elaborate beadwork and headgear. The dancer also incorporates colourful hand-held ornaments that he spins and twirls into his dance.
Women’s Traditional Dance: easily distinguished by dancers with elegance, poise, and grace. Their dance-style is fluid and their steps are light and close to Mother Earth. The regalia is usually made of natural materials, accepted by beaded moccasins, leggings, belts and hairpieces. Some dresses are made of deer or elk hide with long flowing fringes.
Women’s Jingle Dress Dance: The distinctive sounds or “jingle” may be heard before they are seen. Jingle Dress regalia has 365 metal jingle cones, one for each day of the year. During the dance one foot must always be in contact with the ground, keeping the dancer connected to Mother Earth. The Jingle Dress makes the sound of icicles in winter during the graceful dance, harking to the healing qualities of Mother Nature during the dormant months of winter. All the Pow Wow dances are spiritual but the Jingle Dress Dance is the only healing dance. Before the event, people bring gifts of tobacco wrapped in cloth with a tie of yarn or twine to a Jingle Dress Dancer which she carries during the dance; they request that she dance to bring physical or mental healing to a family member, friend or themselves. The Jingle Dress Dancer also dances for general healing of those who might not have asked, but also are in need.
Women’s Fancy Shawl or Butterfly Dance: identified by graceful movements of a colourful fringed shawl, with light, springy steps and quick turns and spins. A whirl of colours and creative designs suggesting butterfly wings, danced by young women as they move into womanhood.
DON’T FORGET TO PIN THIS FOR INSPIRATION LATER!