Nehiyo-paskwa-itsimowan Pow-wow at UBC – The role of the Drum and my Experience

In witnessing the Nehiyo-pasqua-itsimowan Pow-wow at UBC I focused on the dancing and the dancers. What the regalia means and how each style of dance differs. When reflecting more on the powwow I became curious about the role of the drum. Since this event was my first pow-wow I was able to learn many new things about the dancing, styles and protocol. In learning that the dancing is a celebration of life I was interested in what the drum meant. As Steve Teekens states
the drum has a spirit inside of it and should be treated well. …[the] drum came to the Anishnabe people during a difficult time, to help remind the people of the heartbeat of Mother Earth and to get more in tune with themselves and treat each other with respect. (2015, p. 178)
Therefore I view the drum as a strong connection to the land and the people that are in your life. In addition respect and humility are always something we can continue to work on and practice. This is a common value that I’ve seen in many Aboriginal traditions.
As known in Anishnabe culture you pretty much do not have a powwow or any other ceremony if the drum is not present; without the drum there would be no powwow (Teekens, 2015, p. 191). In other words the drum was a central part to the powwow on March 26th. The drums provided the rhythm for the dancers to move to and enables both the drummers and dancers to express their connection to Mother Earth and respect for others. The drum working with the regalia and dancers further illustrates the importance of celebrating life and being respectful; to live life in a good way.
In addition to the roles that I was curious about, my own role was mostly as a witness. I sat down and watched the drumming and dancing but also walked by each vendor and had some food that is known to be at powwows such as Noras sxusum (Indian icecream). I also joined in a round dance where we danced around the drummers and where it really felt evident to me that the powwow formed a community, one of which I was thankful to be a part of and hopefully will be a part of again in the years to come. The formation of a community can also be viewed in the circles of the pow-wow with the men and the drums, sometimes the women circling them singing, then the dancers and finally the ancestors (Teekens, 2015, p. 183-185). Though it is not my place to go further into this as I am just learning about the four circles around the drum I feel as though it is yet another example of creating community is a respectful and humble way. Where each circle works together and is given respect in order to form the pow-wow.

Taylor, D., H. (2015). Me artsy. Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre.

Attached below are the slides where my my critical questions, reviews etc. are present.

2nd Annual Nehiyo-pasqua-itsimowan Pow-wow @ UBC

One thought on “Nehiyo-paskwa-itsimowan Pow-wow at UBC – The role of the Drum and my Experience”

  1. Danielle,
    Thank you for your post. I’m from a potlatching culture, and there are no powwows where I come from, so this was my first powwow as well! In regards to your question:

    “What complications arise in creating a community of diverse people (such as the powwow) on campus (which is on the unceded territory of the Musqueam people)?”
    As part of the FNSSA, I worked to help plan and put on the Powwow. This is something I had a hard time with at first, because I felt like it wasn’t really my place to do so, when it isn’t from my culture, and also I felt like I should have a good understanding of what a powwow is before I can help put one on.
    I examined my feelings, and realized that this (again) comes from my Kwakwaka’wakw background, because the potlatch is a pretty exclusive ceremony. The powwow is of course very different, and is practiced by many First Nations people across turtle island. That’s the reason why the FNSSA chose to host this event. Because it brings people together in culture, ceremony and community in a way that does not break protocol and is not disrespectful. Also because the event takes place on Musqueam territory, the powwow began with a Musqueam welcoming ceremony, and Musqueam community members were consulted before hand.

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