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Harvest Festival and Pow Wow

Date: Saturday, September 14 & Sunday, September 15, 2019
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, both days
Admission: $5 per person, children under 12 are free!
Location: The Museum of Ontario Archaeology, 1600 Attawandaron Rd, London (visit our Hours & Admission page for directions).

Pow Wow Etiquette

  • Always stand and remove hats during special songs. These songs can include the Grand Entry, Flag Songs, and Veteran’s Songs.
  • Ask permission before taking photos, and indicate whether the photo will be used for publication or commercial use.
  • The correct term for a dancer’s outfit is regalia, not a costume. Please do not touch the dancers’ regalia.

Parking

Parking at MOA is limited, and is therefore reserved for those with accessibility needs.
Visitors wishing to attend the Pow Wow can park at Saint Marguerite D’Youville Catholic Elementary School, located at 170 Hawthorne Rd. MOA is providing a shuttle bus that will run continuously between the school and the museum.

Pow Wow Activities

MOA’s 2019 Harvest Festival and Pow Wow will include a wide range of activities for all ages, including:

  • Craft and food vendors
  • Storytelling and traditional teaching
  • Dancing, singing, and drumming
  • Crafts and activities for kids, including corn husk doll making, archery, and face painting
  • Flint knapping and pottery pit firing demonstrations
  • Specialty workshops (stay tuned for more details on schedule and registration!)

Pow Wow Dance Styles and Their Meaning

Modern Day Dance Styles

Although originally inspired by materials found in nature, some First Nations people have opted to replace many of the natural materials that have been used in outfit creation many years ago with a more durable selection of materials that stand up to the elements along with wear and tear. So it is not unusual to see materials such as yarn, ribbon, leather, metal works, for example, all of which can be found at fabric, and hardware stores, etc. It is the way that Native people fashion these items to their outfits that make them uniquely “First Nations”. All men dancers use Breach-cloth type bottoms, bells, beadwork, and head pieces called a “roach” which are made from porcupine and deer tail hair.

Men’s Dances

The Men’s Traditional Dance is a “warrior’s” dance that originated from the western plains. The dancers are distinguished by a circular item on the back known as a “bustle’ which is constructed of Eagle Feathers and other materials. The dancer tells the story of the warrior who may be on the hunt, or on the warpath. During this dance you will see the dancer crouching, looking off into the distance, looking at the ground, and forward bursts. The dancers regalia is adorned with items needed for not only battle but also for healing. Although some dancers stay true to ‘tribal’ colours and designs, the outfit is designed to the dancer’s preference. The dance style is accompanied by a slower-to-medium fast drum beat.

The Men’s Grass Dance is a dance that originated in the western plains where the landscape is void of trees and abundant with long grass. There are several origin stories on the dance with some tribes having warrior societies. Some believe that dancers cleared an area of an impending ceremony of all the grass. Others believe that it is a dance of acknowledgement to the power of items in nature such as the sweetgrass, used in nearly ALL native ceremonies. The dancers have long flowing yarn and ribbon on their outfits to mimic that long flowing grass blowing in the wind. It is accompanied by stepping and swaying. The dance style is accompanied by a medium-fast drum beat.

The Men’s Fancy Bustle Dance is another type of warriors dance used by young men and boys, and originated in the southern United States. The dance style is categorized by two “bustles” constructed of white turkey feathers and brightly coloured “hackle” feathers, which are worn at the base of the neck and back. It is an opportunity for young men and boys to showcase just how acrobatic, fast, and athletic they can be, which usually gets the crowds cheering. The dance is of course accompanied by a fast drum beat.

Women’s Dances

The Women’s Traditional Dance is a dance of honour, respect and inspiration. In many First Nation teachings, women are held in the highest regard. First, and foremost, for being givers of life, but also for other qualities and contributions that bind families and communities together, such as wisdom, strength, and pride. There are several “medicines” such as tobacco, sage, sweetgrass, etc. carried by the dancer. The dance is very stoic, with minimal movement. Typically there is detailed and high quality bead, fabric, ribbon and feather work put into the outfit. The dance is accompanied by a slower to medium-fast drum beat.

The Women’s Jingle Dress Dance originated from the Great Ojibway Nation of Northern Ontario and Minnesota, this special dance is considered to be “healing” in nature. It is believed to be given to the people from the sky-world, as a ceremony to help those who are in need of spiritual lifting. From its creation to modern day, dancers are still called upon whenever there is a member of the Pow-wow circle or community who are in need of spiritual help due to tragic and unfortunate circumstances. Young women who decide to take up the jingle dress dance are handed down protocol and teachings by senior dancers, explaining their roles and responsibilities when wearing the dress. The dress is also unique in its creation in that metal cones are fixating to the dress to create a “shook” type of sound which is said to be heard on the “other” side, just like the “drum”.

The Women’s Fancy Shawl Dance is relatively modern, and is a way for women to showcase how athletic, fast and light footed they can be. It has been nicknamed the ‘butterfly’ dance because of the wide and colourful shawl worn by the dancer. Emphasis is also put on the outfit design, with plenty of detailed, colourful and eye-catching patterns used in the ribbon and material work. It is unique in the way that it is the only dance style that doesn’t employ noisemakers, such as bells or jingles.