Mohawk Pow Wow showcases Native traditions

Dressed in traditional wears, two dancers demonstrate two different styles of Native dance during the 32nd annual Tyendinaga Mohawk Pow Wow, held over the weekend. Photo by Terry McNamee.

Terry McNamee
Special to the Beaver

Great food, amazing dancers, the heart beat of drums, and friendly people — they all came together to make the 32nd Annual Tyendinaga Mohawk Pow Wow a great place to be this past weekend.

Held Aug. 10-11 at Tsi Tkerhi’to:ton Park, the pow wow attracted big crowds, with people coming from as far away as Maryland to enjoy the festivities.

“This year’s pow wow was a wonderful success,” said pow wow committee member Melissa Maracle. “We had four big drums and one waterdrum. The best day for attendance was on Saturday with approximately 800 or more spectators in and out through out the day.”

The event had something for everyone from newborn babies to senior citizens. The dancers included people in fancy competitive regalia, those in very traditional clothing and others who did not dress up but just felt the urge to get out there and dance. Children accompanied parents and grandparents, while others went out on their own to perform their dance own moves.

Traditional danes were showcased as well.

“We had Aztek dancers, hoop dancers and a young woman who sang some hand drum songs for us,” Maracle said.

The lead dancers for this year’s pow wow were Greg Mista Wasis Dreaver, originally from Mistawasis Nehiyawuk Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, and Brittney Pegshmagabow from Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound. The host drum was Old Stone from Ottawa and the guest drum was Iron Stone from Akwesasne. The event’s M.C. was Lance Delisle from Kahnawake.

In addition to dancing and food, the pow wow included a wide assortment of vendors selling everything from music DVDs of Aboriginal music to hand-made children’s toys, amazing leather goods and a variety of hand-crafted arts such as carvings and jewelery. Among the vendors was Ruby Boomhour of Tyendinaga, who in addition to running her booth, was one of the event’s organizers. Boomhour makes leather dresses, often with jingles (bells) and burned designs, as well as dream catchers, moccasins and beadwork. She also teaches at Loyalist College in Belleville, where people can learn how to do traditional crafts themselves.

The sound of a haunting traditional flute drew many people to David Maracle’s booth, where he performed the original music that has taken him around the world and showed his stone carvings.

“I believe that with my arts and music, it’s helping introduce people to Native culture,” he said.

Today, that includes the latest electronic innovations to help make that music  happen.

While the pow wow is over for another year, those involved in the planning are already looking ahead to next year, as are the many visitors who are sure to come back again in 2020.

“The pow wow committee would like to thank the arena director, MC, drummers, dancers, staff carriers veterans, flag carriers, fire keepers, volunteers, committee members and, last but not but not least, our community of Tyendinaga and surrounding communities for their support in attending each year,” Melissa Maracle said.

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