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Ocean Man First Nation Powwow attracts more than 100 dancers

Powwow returned after taking a two-year hiatus.
Ocean Man First Nations powwow
Lexus Big Stone from the Carry the Kettle First Nation was one of the dancers registered at the Ocean Man First Nations powwow.

OCEAN MAN FIRST NATION - After two long years, Ocean Man First Nation was able to host a powwow at the Lost Horse Hills Powwow Grounds.

Powwows are particularly important to the Indigenous people. It is a gathering of nations, family and a way to celebrate life and to preserve traditions and ceremonies.

Weeks prior to the event, held from Sept. 9-11, the grass was manicured, and the buildings were cleaned and painted by the youths. Electrical was checked by Backcountry Electrical to ensure all lights and plug-ins were in working condition, and a new metal roof was placed by FSK Construction Services.

The roofs colours consisted of black, white, yellow and red, signifying the colours of the medicine wheel. The colours mean spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical, for the aspects of life.

The grounds had been vacant for two years and now they would hold an especially important event.

As the opening day approached, campers began to set up. The teepees were placed near the circles entrance and the flags were hung at half-mast to honour those who had perished.

The first evening would have a slight delay as one dark cloud came over the grounds, bringing intense winds and a downpour. Although it did not last long, it sent everyone for cover.

Greeters welcomed everyone to the grounds with a smile and a Nakata greeting.

With the steady beat of the drum, the winds dissipated. The Nakata song began, which escorted in the elders, chief, council, flag bearers and all the dancers. Onlookers swayed to the beat of the drum, as the jingles went in unison with the music.

Chief Connie Big Eagle spoke to the crowd and welcomed them. She thanked the Creator for life, the youth for all their work and her nephew Justin Holness for his support and help. It was only decided at the beginning of August to hold this powwow, but through demanding work and dedication, it was pulled off.

Over 100 dancers registered for the weekend, from tiny tots to golden years. There were seven age groups entered.

Each group is judged on rhythm, footwork, knowledge of the song, regalia and best moves.

Their regalia is brightly coloured and the detail is extensive. The millions of tiny beads adorn full outfits with feathers and jingles.

Each drum has five drummers. They too are judged in their own category, for unison, crispness of the lead singer, and the cohesion of the backup singers. These are just a few of the items.

The weather was sunny and not too hot on Sept. 10 and 11, which is good as some of the regalia is thick and heavy.

The food truck supplied different dishes and vendors lined up around the circle.

At one time, Ocean Man was with White Bear and Pheasant Rump First Nations, but they became re-established in 1989 as their own First Nation.

Ocean Man is also the only First Nation in Canada that has a woman chief and an all-woman council.

For more photos, please see Observed At on Page 7.

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