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Harvest Festival and Pow Wow

THE 2020 HARVEST FESTIVAL AND POW WOW HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

The Museum of Ontario Archaeology, in consultation with the event Planning Committee, have decided to cancel the Harvest Festival and Pow Wow that had been scheduled for the weekend of September 13th & 14th.

The health and well being of the participants, vendors, volunteers, staff, and visitors to this annual large and well attended event is our priority. We thank you for your understanding and look forward to welcoming you back when we can gather again.

We invite you to continue to support Indigenous artists, craftspeople, and organizations during this time.


Learn More about the Pow Wow

Until we are able to safely gather, we invite you to learn more about past Harvest Festival and Pow Wow events hosted by the Museum of Ontario Archaeology!

Image of woman dancing for 2016 Harvest Festival and Pow-Wow
Pow Wow Dancer at the 2015 Event

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.
Pow Wow Pottery

Pow Wow Activities

The Harvest Festival and Pow Wow at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology usually include a wide range of activities for all ages, including:

  • Craft and food vendors
  • 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

Pow Wow Dance Styles

Modern Day Dance Styles

Originally inspired by materials found in nature, some Indigenous artists and dancers have opted to replace traditionally used natural materials in their regalia with a more durable selection of materials that stand up to the elements along with wear and tear. You may notice familiar materials like yarn, ribbon, leather, metal works from local fabric and hardware stores as elements in regalia. Artists and Dancers create their regalia with both unique individuality and traditional heritage.

Male-identifying dancers incorporate 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 in the western plains. The dancers are distinguished by a circular piece on their 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 traditional 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.

Young Man enjoying the Pow Wow

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. This dance 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. The dancer will sometimes carry a combination of several “medicines” such as tobacco, sage, and sweetgrass. The dance is very stoic, with minimal movement. Typically there is detailed and high quality designs using beads, fabrics, ribbons and feathers in the regalia. 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 when there is a member of the Pow Wow Circle or Community in need of spiritual support due to tragic and unfortunate circumstances. Young women who take up the jingle dress dance are handed down protocol and teachings by senior dancers, including their roles and responsibilities when wearing the Jingle Dress. The dress is uniquely designed with affixed metal cones to create a “shook” type of sound when the dancer moves, which is said to be heard on the “other side”, just like the drum.

The Women’s Fancy Shawl Dance 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, colourful shawl worn by the dancer. Emphasis is also put on the regalia’s design, with plenty of detailed, colourful, and eye-catching patterns used in the ribbon and design work. This dance is unique because it is the only dance style that doesn’t employ noisemakers, such as bells or jingles.


Thank you to our sponsors from 2019!