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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America

 

August 25, 2001 - Issue 43

 
 

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Island Powwow's Rain Dance Held as Drought Finally Ends

 
 

story and photo  by Steve Sharratt Prince Edward Island's The Guardian-August 20, 2001

 
PANMURE ISLAND Like a goodwill offering to a parched Earth, First Nation people began a spiritual dance on the opening eve of a tribal powwow over the weekend and within hours the rain fell from the sky.

It was the first good rainfall on P.E.I. in more than six weeks of summer drought, and the water from the heavens swept across the province Friday night and didn't stop until the next morning.

"I jokingly said the dancers would help bring rain,'' said Jim Augustine, who acts as the announcer and commentator during the annual summer gathering here.

"We don't have a specific rain dance, but we all asked for rain from our dancing, and down it came.''

The Big Cove, N.B., man, who travels to native powwows all over the Eastern Seaboard, said while some may write it off as coincidence, the power of native dancing is not to be dismissed.

"Native people are very close to Mother Earth and that's our gift,'' he said in an interview.

"Every colour of man was given a special gift and with us it's the Earth. That's why we show our respect to it and we asked for rain on Friday night and Mother Earth responded.''

On Saturday, the dance circle asked for sunshine, and by mid-afternoon the overcast skies had all but disappeared.

Traditional dancing was a major highlight of the three-day event, which drew native people from across the country and filled the seats surrounding the dance circle with tourists and Islanders alike.

"I just love seeing the costumes, they're absolutely beautiful,"said Anne Bouchard, visiting the province from Quebec. "We read about the powwow and brought the whole family.''

The family event, which prohibits drugs and alcohol, is an annual gathering held here on a 70-acre parcel of land overlooking the Northumberland Strait. Song circles, traditional crafts and a bounty of food dominated the event, which drew First Nation people from as far as the West Coast.

"I am here to show respect for my grandfather,'' said a fifth-generation Alberta man almost exhausted from dancing during a testimonial. "This is the end of the mourning process for my grandfather. I've now let him free and I have what I need now to carry on. To continue dancing, to continue singing and to continue to powwow.''

Eleven-year-old Nathaniel Neufeld and his nine-year-old brother Emele from Chapel Island, N.S., spent much of their weekend in the dance circle.

"It's something we're learning and we're having lots of fun,'' said Nathaniel, dressed in the finery of East Coast tribal regalia.

For Jim Maloney, it was his first East Coast powwow and visit to P.E.I. Dressed in West Coast traditional garb of buckskins, beads and a splendid feather arrangement on his back, Maloney cut a striking figure in the dance circle.

"I just love it here,'' said the ninth-degree black belt from White Rock, B.C.

"Good weather, good people and good support.''

With his children now grown, Maloney still teaches martial arts to police personnel around the country, but spends most of his time travelling to powwows across North America.

"This is my day job now . . . travelling to powwows,'' he said as sweat poured down over the black and white paint on his face.

"Yes, it can get quite hot in the dance circle, but that's what it's all about, making sacrifices.''

As traditional singers and drummers fill the air along with the scent of burning sweetgrass, master of ceremonies Jim Augustine has a moment to talk and puts down his microphone inside his wooden booth.

"I hear people talking about us taking all the fish, taking all the lobster, cutting all the woods and shooting all the moose,'' he said.

"That's just not our way and it will never happen. Native people have been practising conservation for thousands of years. Heck, we were environmentalists before the word was even invented."
 

  Maps by Expedia.com Travel
www.expedia.com

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  
     
 

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

 

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