For the first time since the early years of Pow Wow Days, Lac La Biche will host a Traditional Native and Métis Village. In the old days, Aboriginal groups from all over Alberta would come and pitch teepees for the Pow Wow festivities. This event will be a way to bring the event back to its roots and remind residents what the true spirit of Pow Wow Days is all about.
The village will be open every day during Pow Wow Days and organizers are hoping that the traditional elements take on a very spontaneous nature.
“We don’t have all of the times set up for the demonstrations, but we have a lot of elders coming down to share their wisdom and traditions with residents,” said Colleen Pierce, one of the organizers of the village.
The village will feature 11 teepees with elders from Kikino, Heart Lake First Nations, and Buffalo Lake First Nations, who will live in the village during the Pow Wow Days celebration, allowing residents the chance to witness traditional fishing and story-telling techniques as well as crafts and games for children. Dancing and singing will also be a big part of the festivities in the village, and help foster that spontaneous and electric atmosphere.
“Activity tents and games like Aboriginal soccer will be on display,” Pierce said. “It will be a great way for people to see and learn about our great Aboriginal tradition.”
One of the highlights of this event is the traditional Hand Games Tournament, an exciting event utilizing song, drums and a little trickery. It starts on Saturday Aug. 4 at 9 p.m, Entry costs $100 per team with cash prizes reaching the $5,000 mark. There will be free camping for all hand game players.
THE MEANING OF POW WOW
Organizers also hope that the village will help remind residents about the true meaning of pow wow. In the past there has been some debate about whether or not the Pow Wow Days celebration should really be called a “Pow Wow” as this celebration does not feature a traditional pow wow competition.
“We have had difficulty in the past with people missing out on the Aboriginal elements of the weekend, or expecting certain things that were not present in past Pow Wow Days,” Pierce said.
But, after extensive research was done on the meaning of pow wow with help from members of the Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre, and long-time organizer Duane Young, it was agreed that the true definition of pow wow actually means a gathering or celebration for the merriment of others.
“We never want to lose focus on what this weekend is about, all the games and activities are great, but we need to remember and promote our heritage,” Pierce said.