FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – Thunder Mountain echoed to the beat of the drum as the annual Pow Wow on the mountain got rolling on Saturday. The four day annual event continues Sunday and Monday with the Grand Entry at 13:00EDT each afternoon.
While some might see a Pow Wow for the colourful regalia that the dancers wear, and for the drumming. The Pow Wow is actually an important spiritual and cultural event. The day is not started with the Grand Entry, but with a sunrise ceremony, prayers, and healing.
On Friday night, a key part of the Pow Wow was the lighting of the Sacred Fire, and the Water Ceremony. Elder Calvin Ottertail assisted by Jim Chicago and Freda McDonald led the people. Men are the fire-keepers, and the sacred fire once started will be attended, and kept burning throughout the four day Pow Wow. Women are the water keepers.
Pow Wow brings the people together
The service also brings in teachings, and blessings. The Elders are honoured, and those who have passed into the next world are honoured.
On Friday night, a new drum was brought to the ceremony, and the first song bringing the drum to life was completed. During the lighting of the Sacred Fire, and the Water Ceremony, no pictures or recordings are allowed.
Respect and tradition and learning
On Saturday, the weather on Thunder Mountain, or Mount McKay was perfect for the Pow Wow, warm but not too hot, and just enough breeze to make sure the dancers were able to keep cool.
Should you wish to attend the Pow Wow, you are not only welcome, but you are encouraged to come and share. In Thunder Bay, and across Northwestern Ontario, learning and sharing the culture of our First Nations people is a key toward building bridges of understanding and friendship.
At the Pow Wow, the Master of Ceremonies will lead you through the event. Even if you have never attended a Pow Wow, it is likely after your first Pow Wow you will feel a relaxation and peace – There is just something about being in the presence of the beating of the heartbeat of Mother Earth that will do that for your spirit.
Today and Monday the Pow Wow will continue. Monday night, Fort William First Nation will host the highest fireworks display in the Thunder Bay District.