Lake Superior Pow-Wows
Posted on: July 3, 2018

 

Dancer at the 2016 Opwaaganisiniing Pow-wow
A dancer at the 2016 Opwaaganisiniing Pow-wow at Lake Helen near Nipigon, Ontario. (Photo: J. Bailey/infosuperior.com)

A Fun, Friendly Atmosphere

Have you ever attended a pow-wow? Pow-wows are sacred events that celebrate Indigineous culture and traditions. They are gatherings for renewing old friendships, making new ones, for dancing, singing and visiting. The musicians share their songs and dancers get to present their colourful regalia and show off their moves. Respectful guests are welcome at many pow-wows.

The gathering of people of all ages at pow-wow’s is a way to share and celebrate traditions over generations: drumming, songs, dance, and spirituality. A Master of Ceremonies directs proceedings and shares stories, knowledge and laughter. The Master of Ceremonies will inform all in attendance what songs and dances are coming and whether they are ceremonial songs and dances.

Arts and Crafts
Arts, crafts and food are usually on sale at Pow-wows. (Photo: J. Bailey/infosuperior.com)

Food and Vendors are Part of the Mix

A feast is shared after the dancing but food is often in abundance before that. Multiple food booths are usually part of the event, offering everything from bannock to French fries. Like gatherings of other types, large crowds also attract a range of other vendors. Unique arts and crafts are usually available and sometimes, beadwork and articles like snowshoes crafted as you watch.

If you’ve never attended a pow-wow, don’t be reluctant but do be respectful. Pow-wow participants are proud to share their traditions with the broader community. For more information on pow-wow ettiquette, please refer to the Etiquette and Glossary section on pages 22-23 of the 2018 Great Lakes Pow-wow Guide.

Pic River pow-wow dancer
A dancer at the Pic River Pow-wow. (Photo: J. Bailey/infosuperior.com)

Unique Settings Around Superior

There are many pow-wows around Lake Superior, some right on the shore of the lake itself. The pow-wow at Pic River First Nation, just east of Marathon, Ontario, is held at an absolutely stunning location. Even if you’ve travelled Lake Superior extensively, chances are you’ve never seen anything like this. The event is held at the shore of Lake Superior, directly across the Pic River from Pukaskwa Nation Park. You may have seen other large Lake Superior beaches but the beach where this event is held likely dwarfs anything you’ve seen to date (even Neys). The event is held beside the largest area of sand dunes on the Canadian side of Lake Superior, right where the Pic River meets wide open Lake Superior. Pic River First Nation has taken steps to protect the nearby dunes from encroachment like all-terrain vehicles. This is definitely one of the most beautiful places on Lake Superior and also an extremely well-attended event.  Many residents of nearby Marathon and Manitouwadge attend, as do passing travellers who venture down from the Trans-Canada Highway.

Vividly Coloured regalia
A dancer displays vividly coloured regalia at the Opwaaganisiniing Pow-wow, 2016. (Photo: J. Bailey/infosuperior.com)

 

The Pic River pow-wow is only one of several, on both sides of the lake, including Red Rock First Nation, Pays Plat, Bad River, Fond du Lac and Grand Portage, to name a few. Pow-wows are a wonderful way to enjoy a summer day, to make meaningful connections and learn about the cultural traditions of indigenous communities that are deeply rooted in the Lake Superior region.

Unique Pow-wow settings
Lake Superior Pow-wows often have unique settings, like this one where Pic River meets Lake Superior. (Photo: J. Bailey/infosuperior.com)

Lake Superior is Circled by Pow-wows

Drop by a pow-wow for a day or an hour. The following is a list of some of the pow-wows taking place around Lake Superior:

-June 29th to July 1st – Fort William First Nation, location: Animikii-wajiw (Mount McKay)

-July 6th & 7th – 35th Biigtigong Nishnaabek (Pic River) Pow-wow

-July 6th – 8th – Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

-July 13 – 15 – Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Annual Veteran’s Pow-wow

-July 13th to 15th – Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Traditional Pow-wow

-July 20th – 22nd – Opwaaganisiniing Traditional Gathering (Red Rock Indian Band)

-August 4th & 5th – Michipicoten First Nation Annual Pow-wow

-August 10-12 – Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Pow-wow

-August 18th & 19th – Garden River First Nation Pow-wow

-August 24th – 26th – Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Manoomin Celebration Pow-wow

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