Following a brief hiatus, the Yellow Wolf Inter-tribal Powwow is back for its 25th anniversary, taking place Aug. 2-4 at the Tsawout Gathering Strength centre in Saanichton.
The powwow took last year to regroup following a number of deaths in the family of Angel Sampson, who is the main organizer. At 4 p.m. this Friday, a memorial will be held to honour Sampson’s three brothers and niece who passed away, after which children, grand children and great grand children will join in.
Starting at 7 p.m. will be a grand entry parade featuring dancers partaking in the weekend event.
The powwow will see various styles of dance and dress. There’s traditional dancers wearing buck-skin outfits with intricate beading and feathers; “grass” dancers whose ribbon-trimmed outfits move in interesting ways, and jingle-dress dancers, whose clothing features metal cones of various sizes that create unique sounds. There may even be some hoop dancers at the event.
The powwow started as a way for Sampson and her family to honour their late mother who left her home in the NezPerce Nation in Idaho to start a family on the Island.
“That’s where we get our powwow roots,” Sampson says, noting that powwows are not indigenous to Coast Salish culture.
Saturday’s grand entries start at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. with dancing expected to last until around 11 p.m. and the final grand entry taking place at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Drawing crowds anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people, the powwow has attracted spectators from around the world such as Japan, Switzerland, Germany and England. It’s a great opportunity for tourists to support local artists or vendors by taking home a piece of culture, Sampson says.
The powwow is wheelchair accessible and anyone is welcome to watch, eat and of course, dance. For more information call Sampson at 250-665-7777. To access the Tsawout Gathering Strength facility take Mt. Newton Cross Rd. into the Tsawout property, where you’ll find the venue at 7728 Tetayut Rd.
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