The Wolastokiwik Negootkook Gathering and Pow Wow was held over the weekend of June 27-29 at beautiful Mudwass Park at Tobique First Nation.
The bridge closure didn’t keep people away, either! There was a huge crowd enjoying the music, dancing and food. There were also a large number of craft vendors on hand this year., offering a fantastic array of jewelry, clothing, gems, art and more.
I arrived just as the dancing began on Saturday afternoon, after navigating that annoying 40 kilometre detour to get to the event.
Dancers just kept filing into the natural amphitheatre that is formed by the circle of towering pines in the park.
The dancers’ regalia was truly impressive and beautiful. There were four drum groups providing the music: Windy Grass, Smokey Point, The Negutkuk Singers and the Wulustuk Singers.
Pow Wows are for teaching and learning as well as celebrating culture… kids are always invited to join and learn with the adults.
The dancing and music was announced by an entertaining and informative emcee who offered a running commentary on the art and culture as he explained what was happening. Every dance came with an oral history lesson to explain the traditions behind the dances and regalia.
The Shawl Dancers represent butterflies, or perhaps birds soaring in flight. The Jingle Dancers wear regalia covered with metal cones that make a sound like rain when they move, which is a healing and soothing sound as it affects the water in our bodies.
I introduced myself to the emcee and asked if I could put his name in this article…he said sure and fortunately he had it recorded on his cell phone!
His full name is Nipayatuwet Naka Wespasahtuwet Possesom, but he said he usually goes by “Star”, which is what the last word in his name translates as. Possesom is pronounced ba-zaz-um.
Young male dancers were originally scouts who would forge ahead of hunting parties who would leave bits of their regalia behind to mark the way and send messages to the followers.
At one point all dancing was halted as Star noticed a feather had fallen to the ground. If it had been a sacred eagle feather, a ceremony to honour the fallen warrior would have been performed, but it was not an Eagle feather and the dancing resumed.
The Pow Wow was a beautiful cultural event and celebration held on a glorious day!