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Akwesasne Powwow celebrates heritage

Alycia Douglass

Published on September 9, 2017

Dancers got into it at Akwesasne's 17th annual Powwow. (Alycia Douglass/TC Media)

AKWESASNE, Ontario - Sounds of song and thunderous drumming echoed through the air at the 17th annual Akwesasne PowWow. Held at the A`nowara`ko:wa Arena/PowWow grounds, everyone was welcome to enjoy the music, dance, and delicious food at this year’s event.

Colourful beadwork and handcrafted moccasins were among some of the sights in the vendors’ section, along with a demonstration by the Akwesasne Tourism Working Group(ATWG) on the sacred act of traditional basket weaving.

“The idea was to have an element of our culture,” said Gail McDonald, Project Developer with Akwesasne Heritage Complex. “It speaks to our heritage, it speaks to the skills, and it speaks to the history we have in our traditions.”

Throughout the day, experienced basket weavers took their turns weaving a basket to eventually be housed in the Heritage Complex. With the process beginning with a log, preparation is the most important, yet time-consuming part of the process.

In the heart of the Powwow grounds were the multitude of dancers, dressed in vibrant regalia. Celebrating life and creation, dancers poured in with unbridled energy, giving spectators a glimpse into the traditions of different tribes.

Head female dancer, Monique Powless has been dancing since the age of six and says that there’s a great deal of training that goes into preparing for a Powwow.

“There’s a lot of endurance that goes into performing,” said Powless. “We’re a lot like athletes in a way because we need to have the stamina to keep up during the dances.”

Powless also says that Powwows are a great way to bring people together.

“Coming from a smaller area, it’s nice to see other people, share some laughs, and just enjoy,” said Powless.