Powwows are an integral part of Indigenous culture, and with Fort Frances’ location central to a number of wonderful First Nation Communities, the opportunity to explore Indigenous tourism through these wonderful events is within reach. Couchiching First Nation holds an annual Powwow – now heading into its 29th year – that is one of the premier Powwows in northern Ontario. Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, Seine River First Nation and Lac La Croix First Nation also frequently hold events during the summer months that attract large crowds of enthusiastic onlookers and participants.
While the exact origin of the Powwow is unknown, these celebrations were adopted and adapted by various Indigenous communities across North America throughout the 20th century, as a means of celebration and sharing of culture, stories and reinforcing the strength of the communities that host them. Today, powwows are cultural exchanges that are used as part of healing ceremonies, and to celebrate Indigenous dance, music, food and art.
Powwows are, as they’re known today, can be categorized as traditional or competitive (and sometimes both simultaneously). Traditional powwows are usually held in local communities, and do not have dance and drum group competitions. Competitive powwows, which are those most often open to spectators have dance categories for women, men and children. Dancers are judged based on footwork and regalia, and individuals who excel in their category receive awards and/or prizes.
Modern powwows also provide food, craft and clothing vendors with the opportunity to sell and share their handiwork with the community and those who are lucky enough to partake in one. Many of these vendors – professional craftspeople, dancers, musicians and singers – earn a living from these events, and the products and services they provide are authentic and beautiful in their uniqueness and tradition.
For more information on Powwows, including a calendar of North American PowWows, including location, contact information and event details, check out the site Powwows.com.