Pete Sanchez of the Ktunaxa Nation.  Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Pete Sanchez of the Ktunaxa Nation. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Many years ago, indigenous groups around North America would welcome in visitors for annual powwows. As time has gone on, this tradition has been lost for many groups. This year, the Tobacco Plains Indian Band rewrote history.

For the first time in over two generations, they hosted a powwow celebration.

In the middle of the room they danced; colourful, intricate outfits creating a rainbow of movement. Each piece of clothing meticulously crafted with most outfits taking years to construct. Surrounding them sat elders, parents, siblings and guests, watching proudly.

Tobacco Plains Indian Band Chief Mary Mahseelah said it was very special to see everyone gathered together for the first time in so long. Dancers and singers from across B.C., Alberta, Montana and Idaho were present to celebrate the historical gathering, one that Mahseelah said was a long time coming.

“We’re trying to bring back the way it used to be, a long long time ago, with our ancestors,” said Chief Mahseelah.

Generations ago, the Tobacco Plains would gather in a field above Edwards Lake every September for their annual powwow. In those days, the powwow was a celebration of life; a form of worship before the harvest. The gathering would last an entire week.

“All the other communities used to come and join,” said Mahseelah. “And when they were done, each of the other communities would go (get) whatever they were after; the berries, the animals… they’d all go in their (own) directions. Then they would prepare for their winter supply.”

This, Mahseelah explained, was long before her time. This tradition has long since been lost.

“The people that were behind it, they probably passed away,” she said. “Then the different generations just let it go.”

Generations later, powwows are starting to come back, however, they often do not attract the number of participants that they used to. Modern powwows also do not often take on a traditional theme. More often than not, they are hosted as competitions.

“Today, usually the ones (powwows) that are going on now are for the money,” she said.

Dancers earn money for placing first, second or third in their respective categories, of which there are many.

The categories can be gender and age specific, and include traditional, fancy shawl, jingle, grass, two-step, owl (couples) and more. They are judged on many things including their movement, timing, and whether or not they lose any clothing items or feathers during their dance.

This is preceded by a grand entry with colour parade, elders and elected officials. It is followed by a traditional feast.

Another significant change over the years is that modern powwows are inclusive; open to non-indigenous people. Previously, powwows were very traditional in that they only allowed members of the band and friendly neighbouring tribes on the dance grounds.

June 29 marked the first annual Tobacco Plains Powwow, and the ‘Speak Our Language’ celebration. The Tobacco Plains Indian Band is working to restore their traditional language with the help of their elders.

The hope, Mahseelah explained, is to host a powwow annually for many more years to come. This year, around two-dozen dancers participated.

“For today (is) the first time we’ve tried it,” said Mahseelah, “If word gets out that it was good then it will attract more.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Tobacco Plains Indian Band hosts first annual powwow

Just Posted

Recipients of last year’s Winter Games Legacy Grant funds. Bulletin file.
City of Kimberley accepting applications for Winter Games Legacy grants

Grants are available for amateur sports organizations

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick. Bulletin file
No need for travel bans: Kimberley Mayor

While there has been plenty of chatter lately about the possibility of… Continue reading

Author Rosa Jordan
Join Kimberley Library for an author Zoom session

Join the Kimberley Public Library for an evening as the award-winning novelist… Continue reading

Cranbrook Search and Rescue safely and effectively rescued an injured snowmobiler on January 16. Pictured are six members took part in a Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 course, which also took place on the 16th. Members are required to have at minimum AST1 for winter responses. (Facebook/Cranbrook SAR file)
Cranbrook SAR rescues injured snowmobiler from Lumberton area

A helicopter crew assisted in safely and quickly located the injured person

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Flags line the National Mall towards the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Kamala Harris sworn in as the first U.S. female vice-president.

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper
B.C. photographer takes top Canadian Geographic photo prize

Sara Kemper shows what home means to her in Comox Valley photo

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

Most Read