Thursday, August 26, 2010

Peguis Treaty Days, Pow Wow, and the 5 Dollar Give Away

As new comers to the week long events, we drive through rows of cars, trailer in tow, and wonder where to set up. There are tents and trailers scattered throughout the site, a mid way, rows of vendors, and the Pow Wow site arena. The curved lines of the structure beside the streamline trailer contrast the square wood lean-to’s that are named Texas Hold ‘Em, Granny’s Kitchen, and The Projects (this last one is empty), which are temporary structures, like ours, that sell delicious pickerel, fried bread, and glow in the dark novelties.

We settle on a spot up near the baseball diamonds. Beside our site the sacred fire burns on, as it will for the duration of the Pow Wow. The big drum beats and the singing groups from different regions take turns leading the dancers through song. Watching the dancers do the chicken dance (male), grass dance, and jingle dance (female) I sat beside the Peguis singing group, Loud Eagle, and soaked in the experience through the reverberating stands into my body. As the sun set, the singing groups seemed to get louder, their competition a sensory contrast and companion to the dancing competition. The over-stimulation of the events—a country band playing inside a caged band stand; the Pow Wow; the midway with its carnival lights, noise, rides, prizes and candy, and the kids running around it all.

So there we were, a silver bullet and Lancelot’s structure set up in between the Pow Wow grounds, eagle feather head dresses piled upon fence posts, and the midway carnival, pumping pop music. We are welcomed to the community by elders and we are honoured to be a part of this event. Day one, Jason and his son Willie are handed a five dollar bill, “from the Chief”, and day two three amazingly talented young women sit with Natasha and I, making collages and sharing stories. Day three, we dress up in face paint and Abzurb costumes and join in the 10 car parade around the grounds. Thank you Peguis, for sharing this celebration and tradition and reminding elders, children, and visitors of the road upon which we all ride, dance, or sing.

-Vanessa Rigaux

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