Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kamloopa PowWow ~ Kamloops, BC, Canada

We love Kamloops for all it has to offer and the Kamloopa PowWow is one of the most beautiful events to see.  Friends joined us and we all enjoyed our first PowWow experience and making it even better was that we are considered 'elders' and were admitted free of charge !

Quiet times at the Kamloopa PowWow grounds
This was the 31st annual PowWow in Kamloops and is held at the Special Events Facility, most commonly referred to as the powwow grounds. The open air facility is a grand one and makes a wonderful presentation for the PowWow, one of the largest celebrations of the First Nations culture and heritage in Western Canada.

Kamloopa PowWow visitors fill the grounds with tents and RV's

The grounds are filled with teepees, tents and RV’s as many come from far and wide either to participate or enjoy the celebrations. The grounds are kept clean with a clean up crew that never stops and with all the challenges that it brings with so many people living on these grounds for several days, it is very impressive how clean it is kept.
The Canadian, American & BC flags followed by First Nations flags
Excitement is in the air as the Grand Entry begins. The crowd stands to their feet, the drums roll and the music thunders as the participants enter the grassy arena. I posted some video of this so check out Youtube to watch the first moments of the Grand Entry and feel that excitement with me.
The arena is filled with dancers
The beautiful costumes are never ending as hundreds of participants dance into the arena and gather here. The noise makes it difficult to hear some of the introductions by the MC and without programs available, I don’t know which bands are being represented as they enter, but I understand that many of them come great distances to join the Secwepemc band to celebrate together.
The history behind the Secwepemc people tell us that song, dance and ceremonies were part of their daily life and considered vital in maintaining their beliefs and values. These teachings from their ancestors showed them how to care for their land and their people so they would sing and dance before harvesting anything from the land. Song, dance and ceremonies remind the Secwepemc of these beliefs. “The Secwepemc believe that all living things have spirits and must be shown utmost respect.” and you can feel the pride in the air as they dance and sing tonight

One of hundreds of beautiful costumes
Competition begins and native dress varies from one band to another. The colors, design, style, beadwork and fringes make a wonderful show as they dance.

Feathers adorn a dancer's costume
Feathers play a large part in the outfits and many of them have this beautiful display on their back. I know that everything has a significant meaning but I haven’t been able to determine what the feathers on these costumes would mean, maybe someone will pass on this information to me. Many also have what appears to be horsehair in their headgear.

One of the many drumming groups
Drumming plays a major part in the show and the competition. Each group sits around and sings in their native tongue as they pound their one drum to compete for large cash prizes. Their music and emotions roar through the arena and after listening to the different bands and their chanting, choosing the winner may be a difficult job for the judges but this group was definitely in the running to win.

One of many arts and craft booths to see
Arts and crafts are also a big part of the PowWow. There are many booths set up under the outer edge of the facility and many beautiful crafts are on display and for sale from leather moccasins to silver jewelry, and beadwork to blankets

Setting sun over the teepee
There were few teepees set up but those that were are personal ones used for their weekend home away from home. The setting sun said the day was ending but the dancing and celebrations would continue into the night.

The Kamloopa PowWow is a wonderful way to celebrate the First Nations and to share their history. There are no drugs or alcohol allowed on the grounds and that makes for a great place to take the family and learn something of a different culture, right in our own back yard. The PowWow is just another reason why we love Kamloops.

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