Oki, Tansi, Amba Wathtech, Danit'ada

Welcome to Kiayoz' pow wow power hour. This site will feature some pow wow dances in Blackfoot Country and the history of the drum and the dance as well as some of the special events and pow wow's that are happening in the near future that are culturally relevant to the Blackfoot. Pictures will be posted of some of the pow wow's in Southern Alberta from the 2008 and 2009 pow wow season and events that are going to take place in the near future for ie; History In The Hills, National Aboriginal Day, Kainaiwa Indian Days and Piikani Nation Pow Wow. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Grand Entry

The Pow Wow begins with the Grand Entry. All spectators are asked to rise as the flags of the host are brought in. The Eagle staffs and flags represent nations, families, and communities. As the drums begin a grand entry song, the chief or tribal chair of the host tribe and visiting dignitaries enter the arena. They are followed by other honored members and the color guard of veterans. Elected royalty (princesses, warriors, etc.), young people who have been chosen and honored by their specific home community to represent that community at Pow Wows around the country, follow next. Led by the elders, the men dancers follow next, generally in the following order: Men's Chicken Dancers, Men's Traditional Dancers, Men's Grass Dancers and then Men's Fancy Dancers. Then the women enter, also led by the elder women and in the order of Women's Traditional Dancers, Jingle Dress Dancers and then Fancy Shawl Dancers. The teenage boys enter next, followed by the teenage girls and then the younger boys, girls and tiny tots. The dancers in each category are announced by the MCs as they pass the announcers stand. Finally the arena is filled with all of the dancers, each dancing in their grand regalia. Responsibility for maintaining the song passes from drum to drum, going around the circle until all dancers are in the center of the circle and dancing. With all remaining in the center of the circle, the prayer song and honoring song for veterans begin next. It is a spectacular sight filled with beauty and excitement and pride.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Men's Grass Dance

Several stories about the origin of the grass dance are told. One tells of the grass dance being an elite warrior society. The grass being high in new areas, the warriors would dance in a special way to flatten the grass and make it acceptable for a new camp or meeting site. The grass dance movements also reflect warrior movements such as stalking the game or enemy and fighting the enemy (including one movement representing one of the warrior's legs being staked and unable to move and battling with this leg in a held position). The grass dance is often said to reflect the need for balance in life; each movement that is danced on one side must be repeated by the other side. Some people talk of the grass dance as a gift from the Creator to celebrate life. The regalia for the dance is comprised of long strands of yarn, ribbon or fabric attached to a base outfit to represent grass or in some theories the scalps of enemies. A headdress called a porcupine roach is worn. The roach has two feathers attached in such a way that they rock or twirl as the dancer moves. The movement of the feathers represents two warriors fighting in battle. As in all the dances, the dancer must move with the beats of the drum ending with both feet on the ground on the final beat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Men's Traditional War Dance

The Men's Northern Traditional style of dance is one of pride and confidence amongst First Nations men. Traditional dancers demonstrate a style of dance that evolved from the old form of war dance. The dance depicts the telling of a war story or hunting expedition. Other dancers also imitate wildlife such as horses, birds or buffalo while performing.

The outfits of Men's Northern Traditional dancers consist of beaded vests, war shields and porcupine roaches. A single, circular bustle made of eagle feathers is worn on the back. Most dancers carry some sort of staff or dancing stick. The colours and designs used in each individual's outfit can symbolize their clan or family or represent their Indian name.

While the dancers are dancing, they appear to be strong, bold warriors. They tell a complete story that can be seen in their dance steps as they bend low to the ground and peer cautiously about. The process is repeated as an on-going hunt. The completion of the successful hunt is demonstrated as they move in for the kill.

Traditional dancers never dance backwards as they perform, as this would be perceived as retreat. Also, they never turn in a full circle while dancing.

The Men's Northern Contemporary Traditional Dance has the same origin and similar styles to that of the Northern Traditional. The main difference is that dancers of the contemporary style have brighter, flashier outfits and move more wildly.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Men's Fancy Feathered Dance

The brightest and fastest of the men's dance styles, the Fancy Dance or Feather Dance did not originate from any old dance or style. Fancy dancing is the result of trying to entertain visitors at reservations in the early 1920's. The outfit combined the popular bustles of traditional dancers and made them larger, brighter, and more exciting and added feathers, fluffs, and colors wherever they would fit. The Fancy Dance has typically been a young man's dance, although many older dancers who are still in shape participate. The Fancy Dance belongs to no one tribe -- it started in Oklahoma and is now all over the country, with some differences in dress and style in the North.

Fancy Dancers dance much faster than all other styles, and it is sometimes freestyle, with dancers doing such wild things as the splits and backflips, but this is more uncommon. Fancy dancers can dance a type of dance known as a ruffle--it is full of shaking, ruffling, and blinding footwork.

Fancy Dancers have many objects in their outfits that are unique to them. Starting at the top, all Fancy Dancers have a roach, usually a little shorter than normal and with brighter deer hair. The main difference in the head gear of a Fancy Dancer is the rocker spreader, with two eagle feathers that are often decorated with plumes and reflective tape. Some dancers wear scalp feathers, but it is not as common. Most also wear beaded headbands, sometimes with a rosette on the front.

Fancy Dancers usually don't wear a ribbon shirt, but are covered in beaded and fringed aprons over the shoulders and waist. Some also wear loom beaded harnesses that are draped over the neck and hang past the waist. Most also wear small arm bustles that are made from a disc with feathers glued around it. The signifing mark of a Fancy Dancer is his bright, twin bustles. Southern bustles are made from stripped feathers that are decorated with dyed hackle feathers and plumes. One bustle is tied around the neck, and the other is tied to the waist. A newer twist to this is making the bustles from eagle wings, which gives more of a "flying" look. This is more common in the North.

In addition to their aprons, Fancy Dancers wear matching sidetabs to cover their thighs while dancing. All dancers wear large sleigh or the smaller Hawk bells just below the knee. A large Angora goat hide is wrapped aroung the calves to produce the white fuzzy stuff around their legs. Moccasins are usually worn, although some will use neon Aqua Socks instead.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Men's Prairie Chicken Dance

The Men's Chicken Dance Style originates amongst the Blackfoot people. The Blackfoot are very proud of this dance. It started out as a religious society known as the Kiitokii Society.
The Kiitokii Society is still practiced to this day on the Siksika First Nation in Southern Alberta.
This is the story that is told of how this society came to the Blackfoot.
Long ago there was a young Blackfoot man hunting to get food for his family. He heard a noise in the distance. It sounded like something was thumping on the ground. He got very curious and followed this sound. As he approached the sound he saw these prairie chickens dancing in the tall grass. He took his bow and arrow and shot and killed one of these birds. He brought the carcass back to his tipi and his wife prepared it for the evening feast. As the man's family was done eating their dinner, they went to lay their heads down for the night. When this man was sleeping he had a dream that this prairie chicken spirit came to him and asked him "Why did you kill me? My people were doing a sacred dance of my people". The man replied that he needed to feed his family. The prairie chicken had honored this and told this man that he was going to teach him the sacred dance of his people. He was to go out there and teach every man this dance and if he did not do as he was told this prairie chicken was going to come back and take this man's life. This is how the Prairie Chicken Society and Men's Chicken Dance came to the Blackfoot people.