Allaura LeGarde stood patiently as her mother Rachel finished braiding
the moment she was free to dance, Allaura leaped and twirled with
children have been dancing since they were born, said Rachel,
who was with her husband Patrick and five children at the Bois Forte
Mid-Winter Pow Wow last weekend.
LeGardes, members of the Grand Portage band, came from Minneapolis
for the pow wow. Its part of the Pow Wow Trail,
explained Rachel. We travel all year long going to different
pow wows around the state.
added that the family enjoys the trips to Nett Lake and said the
great people in the tiny community make the pow wow special. Theyre
very hospitable, she said.
were enjoying that hospitality over the weekend, with dancers arriving
from across the Midwest and Canada for the pow wow. Dayshun Goodsky,
who co-chaired the pow wow, said so many arrived that some community
members opened their homes to accommodate the travelers.
for the pow wow over the weekend was strong, Goodsky said. But while
the pow wow provides a shot in the arm economically for Nett Lake
and nearby Orr, Goodsky said the purpose for the dances goes much
deeper. Its about preserving culture.
only got three male dancers in Nett Lake, said Goodsky, who
added that more women dancers in the community are helping keeping
the tradition alive. Its important to celebrate Bois Fortes
heritage, Goodsky said, or the band could lose contact with its
past. As part of that effort, Bois Forte established a heritage
center near the Fortune Bay Casino. Meanwhile, Karen Drift is doing
her part by offering language lessons in Ojibwe.
wants to see more of the bands youth embrace the past. Although
some young people attended the pow wow over the weekend, Goodsky
said hed like to reach out to others by conducting a pow wow
at Orr School and said Principal John Metsa has been supportive
of the idea.
addition, Goodsky hopes to obtain funds from the Reservation Tribal
Council that could be used to purchase pow wow outfits and start
a program that would teach tribal members how to create pow wow
to Goodsky, some trace the word pow wow to the Algonquin word pauau,
meaning a gathering of people to celebrate an important event. Pow
wows were traditionally held in the spring to celebrate the new
beginning of life, he explained. It was a time for people to get
together, sing and dance, renew old friendships and make new ones.
wows had cultural significance also; they were an opportunity for
families to hold naming and honoring ceremonies. In the Anishinabe
tradition the celebration constituted a thanksgiving to Gih-Zhe
Manitou, The Great Spirit.
the pow wow season can begin as early as the beginning of the New
Year and continue through September.
wows continue to be spiritually important to the Anishinabee. Even
the drums used to provide a beat for the dancers have special significance.
said that some drum groups have gone through ceremonies and had
their drums blessed and named. The drum is regarded as a man
with its own powerful spirit. he said. Gifts are made
to the drum and some drums even have their own sacred medicine pipes.
In some traditions the drum symbolized the heartbeat; in others,
the powerful medicine of thunder.
outfits worn for the dance also have cultural and spiritual ties.
A good example is the jingle dress. The Ojibwa, at White Fish Bay,
Ontario, claim to be the original home of the jingle dress. According
to Goodsky, an Ojibwe Nation man was instructed in a dream to make
four dresses trimmed with tin cones or jingles. With his wife as
a helper, they made the dresses and selected four women to wear
them at the next dance.
tale is told at the Mille Lacs Minnesota Ojibwa Reservation about
a mans dream to aid his sickly granddaughter, Goodsky said.
The man was given specific directions for the construction of the
dress and the dance. After the girl performed the dance in her special
dress, she gained back her health.
another story says that a family group was in the bushes picking
berries. A daughter-in-law wore this musical dress to warn
her father-in-law of her presence. Traditionally, in-laws avoid
each other out of respect and to prevent difficulties, Goodsky
the years, other traditions such as the Grand Entry
have been added to pow wows, but the purpose bringing families
together and honoring Anishinabee culture has remained consistent.
are the elements that draw Lester Drift Jr., a Bois Forte member
who now lives in Michigan, back to Nett Lake year after year.
a hometown pow wow, said Drift, who said the event gives him
an opportunity to connect with family, close friends and the community.
came here to get down, said Drift as his wife Francis adjusted
his headdress. The drums are really decent and the people
are just awesome.
seeking more information on pow wows can read Dayshun Goodskys
report on pow wows history and importance in culture on the
Internet at http://www.dayshun.com/goodsky.htm.