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What Happens At A Pow Wow

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One of the big events of the summer season in Southwest Ontario is the annual Kettle & Stony Point Pow Wow. Last year, we sent our camera crew to document the pow wow and to follow Cocos employees, Cloud, Reggie and Prof, who spent the day watching the drumming and dancing. But if you’re like me, you’re probably curious at what happens at a pow wow. That why we’ve put together this quick guide to help you with your pow wow know how.

1. A pow wow (or powwow, or pow-wow) is a traditional gathering — a time for nations to come together to share songs and dances. It’s fun, it’s sacred and it’s social. Pow wows can be small “our-neck-of-the-woods” affairs or much larger tribal nations-sized events.

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2. They are usually held at the beginning of spring, to celebrate new beginnings and to take advantage of the sun and warmth at the end of a long winter. Today, pow wows can happen any time from spring to late summer. You can even do the pow wow circuit, hopping from one to the next just like you would for band tours or other festivals.

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3. Pow wows are traditionally about bringing circles of people together, closer to the community and to the culture. You may notice that the setup is a series of circles, with the centre circle being the one for dancing.

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4. There’s a big opening to the pow wow, called the Grand Entry. It is a sacred ceremony. So sacred, in fact, that sometimes photography is not allowed.

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5. Then comes the main event, with drumming, dancing and the gorgeous regalia pow wows are famous for. Dancing is a huge part of pow wows. Sometimes it’s competitive and sometimes it’s just for the fun of it.

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6. Dances are divided into men’s and women’s. There are a huge variety of traditional dances, with more nuances than an EDM sub-genre. You won’t see much pop-n-lock, but you’ll see dances like the Northern Traditional, the Buckskin and Cloth, and the Grass Dance.

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7. If you’ve taken in enough dancing, there are also loads of vendors with all kind of food, music, clothing, crafts, leatherwork, jewelry, and much, much more.

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8. People are generally not shy at pow wows. Pow wows are about culture and sharing events, so feel free to talk to the locals and participants, and make some new friends.

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The Kettle & Stony Point Pow Wow takes places July 13 – 14, 2013. Saturday’s Grand Entry takes place at 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm and Sunday at 12:00 Noon.

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