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Tsuut’ina Powwow Days is Rich in Culture

Guided by a participant from the Stoney Nakoda Nations (Bearspaw First Nation), an ICPP team experienced a day rich in culture while attending the annual Tsuut’ina Powwow Days in July.

Tsuut'ina Powwow

The event started in 1972 as a small gathering and focused on people getting together and honouring their ancestors. Key activities were healing circles, dancing and singing. Family is very important to Indigenous peoples and the tradition of the powwow continues. Families camp at the site to enjoy the annual gathering while participating in dancing and drumming competitions.

The events are non-stop, with multiple drum groups, dances and Indigenous vendors selling a wide selection of traditional and non-traditional items and food. The dancers are judged on their regalia and dancing. The team was able to observe four different dance groups competing in the Men’s Buckskin, Women’s Traditional, Junior Traditional and Teens Chicken Dance. “The clothing worn by the dancers is intricate and stunning; beads, yarns, feathers and leather are all used,” explained a team member, “The colours are bright and the decorations and styles are deep with meaning”. The large headdress is worn by the elders and chiefs, while a head roach can be worn by the dancers and is made from porcupine hair and quills. Roughly 15 drum groups competed with up to 12 singers, singing in their native language, around each drum. “The singers drum and sing at the same time. The songs are intense and the drumming is full or energy. The down beat is played in the centre of the drum, with full arm swings that create a deep ‘boom,’ which echoes throughout the arbour,” stated a participant.

This is an open Powwow and all members of the public are welcome. Many communities are involved outside of the Tsuut’ina nation, including non-Indigenous, so much that it is difficult to find a seat at times. The team encourages everyone to take their families to next year’s event, it will not disappoint.

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