Indigenous culture ranges from land-based traditional hunting and gathering to community gatherings known as Pow Wows. A Pow Wow is a sacred gathering of indigenous peoples to honour the past, renew friendships and celebrate with music, song, food, dance and storytelling. Traditionally held in spring, pow wows were also a celebration of the end of winter and the rebirth of nature.
Experience brilliantly coloured regalia representing legends and lore. Listen to the grounding beat of the drum, and songs about warriors, respect and social life passed down by the elders for generations. Sample indigenous fare and admire authentic artwork, crafts, carving, beadwork and jewelry.
For a Pow Wow information across Northern Ontario and area please visit Pow Wow Calendar
. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, just post and ask a question, the Pow Wow community is friendly and welcoming.
Everyone is welcome at a Pow Wow. Here is some pow wow etiquette if it is your first time attending:
- If ever you are unsure about what is right or wrong- ask someone. Almost everyone at a powwow is happy to answer questions and help you to know the answers you might need. There will be an information booth at the entrance in case you cannot find anyone to answer your questions.
- Consider the privacy of the individual dancers and singers and ask permission before you take a photo or record them. We cannot stress this enough. This includes spectators and craftspeople. Keep in mind that most native people at powwow are not there to perform or entertain the crowd. We are there to dance, sing, pray, celebrate our culture and visit our family and friends. If you keep that in mind that you are a guest and act respectfully- you will be well received and welcomed. A nice gesture when taking a photo is to ask if the dancer would like a copy via email or text. NEVER take photos of children without the parents' consent.
- Do not bother the dancers or stand in front of those preparing to dance or sing.
- Do not touch any of the dancers' outfits. Regalia special meanings and many of the handmade outfits, which can cost thousands of dollars, are cherished and sometimes made by a respected family member. Do not touch the drums either without getting permission.
- Feel free to join in the inter-tribal dancing upon invitation by the Master of Ceremonies (aka MC). Women are encouraged to wear dance shawls if not in regalia, but not required. Be sure that you dance in a respectful manner that honors the powwow and the people. Watch how other dancers dance during intertribal to know what to follow.
- It is a great idea to bring your own chairs and plan for any kind of weather. Sunscreen, shade, hats, and water are almost always needed.
- Donating money to the drum is highly encouraged. This is done during the blanket dance, when a blanket will be laid out on the ground and a song or songs will be sung. It is customary to place a dollar bill (or more if you wish) on the blanket and dance for the rest of that song, regardless of if you are dressed or not. The drum has probably traveled great distance to give you the beautiful songs you hear, and the drum counts on this money to help pay their expenses.
- No drugs or alcohol are allowed at Pow Wows.
- No dogs or other pets allowed on the Pow Wow grounds.