jen pow wow

The Trent University Native Association (TUNA) has a long history (almost 35 years) of bringing the Pow Wow Trail to Trent, and this year the tradition is being revived. This Saturday, March 16, the TUNA Traditional Pow Wow will be held at Champlain College’s Great Hall, with Grand Entry commencing at 11:30 a.m.

Usually a Pow Wow is held outside, but since Trent’s Pow Wow is near the beginning of the pow wow trail season (spring to fall), it will be held indoors with a fire being kept outdoors between the Celeie and the Seasoned Spoon. So far this Pow Wow season, Wikwemikong and York University have had their pow wow and Western University is having theirs on this weekend as well.

After a few years of reorganizing the internal structure of the 40-year-old student group, TUNA is ready to bring the annual pow wow back to Trent. “It’s a celebration, getting together to honour each other and the Earth,” says Kirsty Howie, a Pow Wow Committee Coordinator. Fellow Pow Wow Committee Coordinator Imani Goldson notes that “a pow wow is less political and shows that there is a lot of fun to be had.”

Some of the fun includes craft vendors, singing, dancing, drumming, and lots of good food to be shared. DNA and Smoke Trail drummers will be co-host drum and the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre drummers will also be there. The drummers will be providing the musical accompaniment for the dancers. Meeg Snake will be the Arena Director, organizing and emceeing the pow wow with a trademark wit and excitement.

The TUNA Traditional Pow Wow is a traditional pow wow, not a competitive pow wow, which means the dances are not judged. There will be head dancers in each category of dance, which include Men’s Traditional, Women’s Traditional, Grass Dance, Fancy Shall Dance, Jingle Dress, and Chicken Dance.

There will also be lots of round dances and intertribal dances for everyone to get up and feel the heartbeat through their feet. These dances do not require any special regalia, so it’s “a good way to hang out, relax, and just dance off the stress of upcoming exams,” says Kirsty.

The spot dance is a fun dance game for everyone to participate in and enjoy. Imani and Kirsty describe it as a musical version of ‘duck, duck, goose.’

Another dance based game is the potato dance, where a head dancer will dance a certain way and partnerships have to ‘follow the leader.’ So, there’s “lots of participation,” but some amazing dance performance as well.

Food will be provided by members of TUNA and the event will be catered by Eliza Tru. But it is a potluck and a way of sharing together, so be sure to bring a dish to share and compare. There is a $10 suggested donation for those who do not wish to bring a dish, $5 suggested donation with a dish, and children and elders are strongly encouraged to come as well. Eating will be done at the always fabulous Seasoned Spoon, situated next to The Great Hall. This is a dry event, so a reminder that there are no drugs or alcohol involved.

TUNA is and has been selling popcorn, raffle tickets (for an iPad that will be drawn at the pow wow) and t-shirts to make sure the pow wow happens, but has also received generous support from the First Peoples House of Learning, the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre, local businesses, the Trent and Peterborough community, as well as local First Nations.

“We have received a lot of support from the community,” Kirsty says in a resonating tone of gratitude. The organizers would also like to thank Naadi Madimaagewin (the art of helping), a peer mentorship program at Trent.

This Saturday should prove to be an amazing day of sharing and fun at The Great Hall and a boost for the university itself. “It is important that students see that the culture is evident in academia,” Imani says, while Kirsty adds that “not everyone wants to identify as aboriginal, so this is a good way to engage… a common ground to bridge the gap.”