Next Pow Wow & Rodeo – July 26 – 28, 2019
|Where||5 km east of Bragg Creek on Hwy 22|
|When||Last weekend in July|
|Events||Fri. 7 PM, Sat. 1 PM & 7 PM, Sun. 7 PM
There is always something going on
|Food||Festival food available, no alcohol onsite.|
Gathering of the Nations – The 2012 Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow – Article and video
The 2010 Pow Wow – video
Leave your beer at home.
Imagine a dry Bragg Creek Days or Calgary Stampede. This was a great surprise to me, but they actually post guards at the entrance gate to search your vehicle for drugs and alcohol. Signs around the grounds confirm the “Zero Tolerance” for stimulants.
This was my first visit to the rodeo/pow wow. I didn’t know what to expect apart from the cowboy events and a big party with first nations people from around the province, the country and even the continent, here to celebrate their communities and culture.
Traditional art and culture on display
The grounds are filled with tipis, tents and mobile homes to accommodate the thousands of visitors. The air is thick with the smoke of fires set to prepare meals and take away the chill of the night. Concession stands are arranged throughout, offering candy floss, burgers and typical fast food/junk food. Jewelry and t-shirts are offered for sale. Kids roam the field, flicking frisbees, firing popguns, running and laughing. All this looks like any country fair anywhere. Then you enter another world, another time in the huge wooden canopy built like an open sided tipi. Stands of bleacher seats ring the central performance pad. The dancers cue at the entrance. Drummers pound a rhythmic mesmerizing beat and sing a shrill song, a tremulous sustained scream.
Tentatively, a line of dancers enter in single file circling around the perimeter then spiraling in toward the centre as the endless line snakes onto the performance pad. Maybe 200 men, children and women, in turn fill the area with a swirl of blazing colour and movement. Bells attached to their outfits raise a shimmering tinkle. The outfits are extraordinary. Flamboyent feathers splayed over vibrant colours with accents of fur, beaded work, ribbons and flowing fringes of fabric and string. They glitter and glow. Their moccasin clad feet jump and pump to the rhythmic beat of the drums.
Drummers from around the province and beyond take their turn to drive the action. Some seem to have rock star status drawing a crowd in a ring around the circle of drummers with a huge drum at the centre. Each of the 5 to 8 drummers has a single metal stick about half a metre long tipped with a rubber bulb. Hand-held recorders capture the music and song.
A master of ceremonies speaks through a microphone to be heard above the din, coordinating the action, providing colour commentary and announcing news and events of interest happening around the grounds. The air is electric with joy and celebration.
The celebrity of the evening is Brent Dodginghorse. He has just been signed to play for the Calgary Flames NHL hockey team. A member of the T’suut’ina nation, he is a hero to young and old. Brent welcomes a long line of well wishers and receives a prayer which we hope will spur him to greater things. A group of family members escort him around the ring and out to the autograph hounds waiting at the exit.
There is a lot here I don’t understand. The “hand game” is utterly baffling. The significance of traditional apparel and accessories carry obvious, but uncertain meaning. Even the origin and tradition of the event itself begs for clarification. As one of a very few “second nation” visitors to the event, I felt priviledged if a bit awkward as I looked but did not understand.
This year I was able to record a few video clips that portray the dance and music better than any words or pictures can. I’ve compressed them into a file that won’t take long to transfer on a modem connection. I apologize for the poor quality. Please click the link below to view the movie.
Tsuut’ina Pow Wow – 2004
More information on the Tsuut’ina
If you have some, I’d be pleased to know about it.
Please visit the Tsuut’ina web site:
Digitage of Nakoda-Stoney-Sibbald Flat
Posted by Maureen Flynn-Burhoe
This is a tantalizing bit of knowledge. It has more to do with the Stoney-Nakota nation, bit it is related.
Here’s a book:
Treaty 7 Elders and Tribal Council, with Walter Hildebrandt, Sarah Carter, and Dorothy First Rider
The first account of the Treaty 7 agreement from a Native perspective.