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Yucatan Memories

Posted by Val Fox on April 28, 2012 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Once upon a time when I heard the word Yucatan I thought of Mexico, white, sandy beaches and colorful cocktails with tiny umbrellas poking out between the ice.  It was a place that others went to visit, but not me.  There were always plenty of exciting places to visit right here in Canada or maybe across the line in the United States.  We live just 25 minutes to the U.S. border.  This attitude persisted until 2010 when my daughter took me on a New Year's Day flight down to the land of Yucatan.  It would be a girls-only trip with her and my granddaughter.


The Yucatan Peninsula is located in southeastern Mexico, separating the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. The peninsula lies just east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepic, the portion of land dividing North and Central America.  Yucatan is a free and sovereign state, one of 31 within the Federal entities of Mexico.  It is divided into 106 municipalities with the capital being the city of Merida.   There is some debate on the origins of the word Yucatan.  Hernan Cortes wrote that the name Yucatan originated when Spanish explorers asked local Mayans the name of the area.  They replied Yucatan, which meant that they did not understand his question.  Other sources state that prior to the arrival of Spaniards, the area was known as Mayab, meaning "a few."   Others claim the name originates from the Aztec word Yokatlan, meaning "place of richness."

Formerly a cattle ranching and logging area. the Yucatan is now primarily a tourist attraction.  Hotels of all kinds offer simming pools overlooking the sea, giant hot tubs, water sports and entertainment for guests.  I saw hundreds of restaurants, many serving traditional dishes and more familiar menus.  You can golf, explore caves or take a boat ride - there is something for everyone on the Yucatan.  My granddaughter enjoyed the hotel children's club and getting her hair styled with tiny, golden braids.  Grandma shopped in the markets, went snorkeling and returned home with a lovely sun-kissed tan.  Even with the use of a good sun screen you are  sure to return nicely bronzed.   


The Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most strategic places in the world dedicated to the preservation of marine sea turtles.  Today, there are species at risk of extinction because people exploited them for meat, eggs and their shells.  Birds unlike anything I've ever seen, in all the colors of the rainbow swooped over the blue-green water or perched in massive trees.  The humidity clung to our clothes, making it soft and supple.  We actually noticed a big difference in our skin and hair after only two days.


The Yucatan Peninsula is a place I'd like to re-visit some day.  In spite of frightening stories in the news about drug wars and crime, the Yucatan is a pretty safe area overall.  Just don't carry large sums of money and don't go anywhere alone.  Enjoy the warm beach and sea, but pay attention to the beach signs, and don't swim out too far.  Those small waves are more powerful than they look.  I heard there was a nude beach down in the Tulum area.  Maybe next time...There's something for everyone in the Yucatan.  Bye for now, friends.

Photo Sources:  Creative Commons

The above blog was part of the April 2012 A to Z blog Challenge.  Tomorrow's blog will look at the letter "Z."  See you then! 

The Jingle Dance

Posted by Val Fox on April 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (3)

Every so often when there is a dance among my Blackfoot family I get to listen to the soft tinkling sounds of the jingle cones.  They are attached with ribbon in rows upon the girls' colorful dresses.  The sound they make during a jingle dance is like the soft rush of long. native prairie grasses.  It was originally considered a good medicine healing dance that was shared from the Ojibwe people of eastern Canada.  Today it is a common sight at pow wow competitions and ceremonies.

There are variations of the legend behind the story but they are all quite similar too.  One version tells of a medicine man (or woman) that had a sick daughter.  Asking for help from the spirits, he dreamed a group of women dancers showed him the jingle dance - how to make the dress, the small, precise steps and what songs to sing.  He was told if his granddaughter dressed the jingle dance she might be healed.  The man and his wife made the dress as instructed and took it to their granddaughter.  Although needing to be carried at first, her condition improved with each consecutive dance around the circle, until she was healed.

Formerly made of wood, the jingles are now formed from the lids off chewing tobacco cans.  They are sewn closely together so during the dance they rub together, producing that gentle, rustling sound.  A basic outfit for competition includes dress, a feather fan, moccasins, beaded leggins and feathered hair adornments.  Dancers used to raise their hands toward the drum to receive healing but during competitions today the use of a fan is more common and is raised during the heavier, louder four honor beats of the song.

Dancers are judged on their tight, intricate steps, poise, endurance and their ability to keep time with the drum beat.  I've encluded a short video  so you can view the beauty of the jingle dance.  Thanks for coming!


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Sources:  Manataka American Indian Council (Jennifer Whitefeather Attaway)

Today's featured letter for the A to Z April Blog challenge was the letter "J"   Further infor at

Tags: Native, Aboriginal, indigenous, culture, tradition, First Nations, indians, dancing, traditional dance, pow wow, beaded outfits, fabric, colorful, ribbons, accessories, dance arbor, reservation, dance troupe

'C" Recipes

Posted by Val Fox on April 3, 2012 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (3)

Today's April Blog Challenge features the letter C of the English alphabet so I've decided to share three "C" recipes that my parents taught me.

One year my father gathered crabapples from one of our trees and made a lequeur recipe that we used to celebrate with at Christmas.  It's very sweet with variations of red to pink shades, depending on the color of the apple skin.  Served in tiny crystal goblets, this sweet treat warmed our cheeks and helped to set a happy memory or two, along with great company.


                                      Dad's Crabapple Lequeur (as written by him on the recipe card)

    1 gallon of crabapples, sliced.  Suff into a glass jar (old vinegar bottle or similar jar)

  Add: 4 cups (yikes!) of sugar

  1 26 oz. bottle gin or vodka

  Close bottle and invert (set upside down) every day for 15 days.  After 15 days, strain the liquid from the  pulp

  Bottle the liquid.

The next recipe is written in my mothers script.  The chicken casserole was a delicious family favorite and my mother would make it for birthdays or with turkey leftovers.  I also adapted the recipe to include ground beef, then a vegetarian casserole with whole wheat noodles and no meat.  Yummy!

 Mom's Chicken Casserole


  1 large chicken, stewed

  1 can muchrooms

  1 small can pimento

  1/2 large package noodles, cooked

  1 can peas, 1 cup celery

  1 large onion

  2 cans low-salt mushroom soup

  broth from chicken as required to dilute soup

  Potato chips

  Saute onion and celery in butter ( or 1.2 tsp canola oil)

  Combine all ingredients except chips.  Then crush chips and spead on top of casserole

  Bake at 350 F. for one hour.

As my parents got older they became more conscious of eating healthy foods.  My dad was basically a "meat and potatoes" man and didn't care for new or unfamiliar flavors or plant life.  But the following recipe was also found in an old recipe box, written in mom's familiar pen.  I don't know how authentic it is, whether or not it reflects true asian cuisine, or if this is actually a North American creation ( I will find out!)  It IS delicious and fits into a healthy lifestyle.  I also noticed that even after dad gumbled What's this?? his plate was always empty as he left the table. ;)  Today's letter C, there you have it.

Chicken Chop Suey


  1 1/2 cups diced celery

  1 med. onion

  2 tbs. cooking oil

  1   10 1/2 oz. can of chicken consomme

  2 tbs. corn starch

  1 med green pepper  (thin strips)

  2 tbs. soy sauce

  2 tbs. molasses

  1 can bean sprouts, rinced and drained

  1   5 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and sliced.

  1 pkg. (2 cups) cooked and diced chicken

  1 5 oz. can bamboo shoots

  Saute celery and onion in hot oil until onion is transparent, but not browned.

  Add one cup consomme, stir cornstarch into remaining consomme, then stir into onion mixture

  Add remaining ingredients, cook until liquid is just thickened.

  Serve with rice. 



Photo Collage

Posted by Val Fox on March 21, 2012 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Today I will share some photos taken from the areas around where I live in Southern Alberta, and across the border into Montana, USA.  These pictures are from my home or within 1/2 hour drive from home.  The terrain changes very quickly from prairie, then to foothills, then the Rocky Mountains.  Have a nice day, everyone!

 The last of the old wagon used by my husband's father who was born in Montana, 1877 and died in Alberta 1967 when my husband was just 11 years old.  The wagon sits in our yard as a reminder of a time now passed.


The above sign is posted just as you enter Alberta from the Carway border crossing to the U.S.A.    30 minutes from home.

Checking the cattle that graze in our field from May to October each year.

The Rocky Mountains are 30 minutes to the west of our home.

Outside doing chores with Buddy.

Val's horse, Harvest Moon, born September 15, 2011

I watch these bison from my kitchen window. 

Taken at Park Lake, Alberta

Opening a letter from Santa.

Visitors like to sleep in the tepee during the summer.

I feel fortunate to gaze upon these mountains every morning.

Today's News

Posted by Val Fox on March 7, 2012 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (0)

News Comments

Recent news stories have me second-guessing my desire to return to Mexico for a vacation.  I felt safe enough in Cancun two years ago, but a recent news story tells of two Canadian couples - off-duty police officers - who became ill or unconcious after drinking cocktails from their five-star hotel near Playa del Carmen.  Believing they had been drugged, the four were transported to hospital.  Before the men were treated; they had to pay $1500 each, plus $800 ambulance bills.  Following the hospital visit the women were escorted out by armed police.  The women stated the events appeared to be a money scam.  Although the Canadians kept urine and drink samples, conclusive test results have not yet been reported.  There have been several other stories in the last couple of years from Canadians victimized in Mexico.  I've tried to minimize them but it's not working any more...                Story Source: Lethbridge Herald 06/03/12

                                                                                       Source: Google Images


The recent  presentation of Bill C-398: An Act to Amend the Patent Act gives hope to people in foreign countries dependent upon supplies of affordable medicines from Canada.  The new Act is a streamlined version of C-393 that passed last year in Parliament but was defeated in the Senate.  The goal of the new Act is to reduce the amount of beurocratic red tape, simplifying the process of getting affordable drugs to people that need them now.  Many die daily from preventable illnesses.  You can learn more at http:/


Thanks for stopping by everyone!   Watch for many more videos, photos and articles coming soon.  Your submissions are also welcome.


Opportunity Knocks for Tribe

Posted by Val Fox on January 31, 2012 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The Kainai Chief and Council here in southern Alberta is currently in negotiations which could result in an economic development partnership between the tribe and Calgary Stampede officials.  An announcement would coincide with this summer's 2012 100th Anniversary Celebration of Calgary's "Greatest Show on Earth."

Council member Dexter Bruised Head said recently on LASTAR tribal radio that the Blood Tribe (Kainai) has assisted with and been a part of the Calgary Stampede since its beginning in 1912.  Tribal member Tom Three Persons and other noteable First Nations cowboys came from their reservation homes to win and that's just what many of them did over the years.  An economic venture between the tribe and Stampede would involve the gifting of a 2-acre piece of land on Stampede Grounds that could be developed into a cultural-business centre and conference hall owned and operated by the tribe with revenues shared between the two parties.  With 10 million people coming through the gates each year (not including the potential business centre) the money generated could be a significant profit to both Kainai and the City of Calgary.  Details are still pending.

I've attached a video announding one of this year's Stampede entertainers, with more information in the coming months.  Calgary Stampede

will be held in July, 2012.


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Tags: Calgary Stampede; Kainai Reservation; Indian cowboys; First Nations; tribal economic development; City of Calgary; Blood Tribe; rodeo 


Words From the Ancestors

Posted by Val Fox on January 22, 2012 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The American Indian is of the soil

whether it be the region of forests, plains,

pueblos or mesas.  He fits into the

landscape, for the hand that fashioned

the continent

also fashioned the man

for his surroundings.

He once grew as naturally as

the wild sunflowers;

he belongs just as the buffalo belonged..        Luther Standing Bear (1868?-1939) Oglala Sioux





To "make medicine" is to engage upon a special period of fasting,

thanksgiving, prayer and self-denial, even of self-torture.  The procedure is

entirely a devotional exercise.  The purpose is to subdue the passions of

the flesh and to improve the spiritual self.  the bodily abstinence and the

mental concentration upon lofty thoughts cleanses both the body and the

soul, and puts them into or keeps them in health.  Then the individual mind

gets closer toward conformity with the mind of the Great Medicine above us.

Wooden Leg (late 19th century)  Cheyenne


Children were encouraged to develop strict discipline and a high

regard for sharing.  when a girl picked her first berries and dug her first roots

they were given away to an elder so she would share her future success.

When a child carried water for the home, an elder would give complements,

pretending to taste meat in water carried by a boy or berries in that of a girl.

The child was encouraged not to be lazy and to grow straight like a sapling.

Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket 1888 - 1936)  Salish


  We had no churches, no religious organizations, no sabbath day,

no holidays, and yet we worshiped.  Sometimes the whole tribe would

assemble and sing and pray; sometimes a smaller number, perhaps only

two or three.  The songs had a few words, but were not formal.  The singer

would occasionally put in such words as he wished instead of the usual

tone sound.  Sometimes we prayed in silence; sometimes each prayed aloud;

sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us.  At other times one would

rise and speak to us of our duties to each other and to Usen. ..

Geronimo (Goyathlay  1829 - 1909)  Chiricahua Apache

Photos: The Creative Commons


Peaceful Co-existence Possible

Posted by Val Fox on December 15, 2011 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (1)

 In Tatarstan both Russians and Tatars have lived together peacefully for more than 500 years.  This co-existence is a source of pride among all who live in this central Russian country.  The national flag features green and red joined by a white stripe symbolizing peace between the two major ethnic groups.

The area was originally populated by Islamic Tatars, a Turkic people descended from the Mongols of the Golden Horde (1251-1480.)  In 1552 the occupation of capital city Kazan by troops of Tsar Ivan the Terrible led to the influx of Russians to the area, and cooperation between eastern and western civilizations resulted.  Today the Republic of Tatarstan is home to eight nationalities and about 100 different ethnic groups.  The country's constitution guarantees equal rights to both Tatars and Russians, and it does not speak of Tatars per se, but of "the people of Tatarstand."  The country's long history and development have encouraged a climate of cultural diversity.

Most interesting is a quote by Leonid Tolchinsky, the man that leads Kazan's largest news agency.  The quote was posted in a blog written by Oleg Pavlov, writer for oDRussia, Post-Soviet World.

"Nations playing different roles in differing hierarchical combinations and of various dispositions have lived here together as both ethnic and faith groups.  Therefore, to use contemporary language, patterns of interaction, mutual respect and tolerance are already established...What we have here is a merging of two nations that - even in ancient times - found it hard to work out who was the first to arrive in this territory. Everything has become interwoven."

Journalist and author Dania Tyamaeva states the area geography has also contributed to a peaceful co-existence between ethnic groups and cultures.  An abundance of space, arable land and water resources helped economic development proceed independently.  Tatars and Russians shared similar living conditions which also helped build mutually supportive relationships.  Orthodox Christians of Tatarstan will celebrate Christmas on January 7, 2012.  On the videos page you can learn more about this fascinating country by viewing Tatarstan: Model for Religious Tolerance.             Wishing you peace,                               rcticfox

Autumn Preparations Underway

Posted by Val Fox on October 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)


Old Thought: So long as the grader gets here, we'll be okay.

New Thought: Having a plan and being prepared helps us get through the winter safely.

The harvest is almost complete and everywhere in southern Alberta there are signs of winter preparation.  Ground squirrels have disappeared into their underground tunnels; the dogs' coats are thicker; hay and straw bales are stacked, and the new roof is on.

At my home on the Kainai Reservation we prepare for winter by gathering, storing, cleaning and servicing.  Vehicles and tires tuned and balanced.  Trees watered and the tools stored.  Soon we will take down the tepee and wrap the roses.  Pantry items include non-perishable foods and bottled water.

Emergency crank radio - check.  Sump pump working - check.  Candles, fresh batteries and flashlights are ready.  Vehicle emergency kits include blankets, winter clothing/footwear, snacks & water, snow brush, sand bags, first aid kit and heavy chains. These have all proven to be helpful during prairie snowstorms. Don't forget your mobile phone.

So far we have gotten through some tough winters without a generator, but having one can keep the refrigerator cold or provide power to a heater during electrical outages.  We have long wished for a wood-burning stove but other needs have taken priority.  Now our goal is to complete the barn before snow falls.

In the spring time native grasses and wild flowers will stretch toward the sun into green waves outside the kitchen window.  If the grassland was broken and planted it would provide more income.  It would also contribute to even more decline in natural habitat.  Preparing that portion of the land for winter means moving the cattle and allowing the land to rest.  Horses will be fed in the barn or corral.  Dog houses will be moved close to the house, out of the winter wind.  All these tasks and more will be complete within the next two weeks.  When winter arrives, we will be ready.

Please share your ideas for winter preparedness as October makes way for November.  What is winter like in your part of the world? I'd love to hear from you.

Respectfully,                               rcticfox

Sun Dance Rituals Heal the Spirit

Posted by Val Fox on August 3, 2011 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)

As a little boy I was excited when it came time for the Sun Dance.  My parents prepared all year long saving money, buying food - especially on those years when there was a bundle transfer.  My brothers chased in most of Dad's best horses...

There was ceremony even before the poles were cut in the nearby Rocky Mountains.  Prayers were said even before the Medicine Lodge was built.  The center pole connected the sacred powers of sky and earth.  Following generations of believers, First Peoples once again gathered for the Sun Dance near the Belly Buttes - the most sacred ceremony of the year among the Blackfoot people.  Central to the First People's practice the Sun Dance participants on this reserve have honored the creator and prayed for the well-being and protection of the people. Nothing and no one has been forgotten.

More than a century ago when North American indigenous populations faced repression, loss of land and what some call cultural genocide, the Sun Dance practice remained alive and migrated between tribes (nations.)  I learned that it was carried to new regions as each nation was replaced by colonizers.  The Kainai people of Southern Alberta, Canada are one of the plains tribes still practicing this special ceremony.  Each tribe has differences in their practice but many similarities also exist - the use of the pipe, offerings, certain songs and more.

The prairie air has been filled with the sound of drums, Blackfoot songs, dancers and prayers for the past week.  The scent of sweet grass permeated the Belly Buttes. People gathered on lawn chairs and blankets, slept in tepees and RVs.  A food giveaway filled visitors' bags and rituals provided healing for body, mind and spirit.  Bundle transfers involved the exchange of horses, money and other gifts.  Protocols were strictly adhered to. 

The Sun Dance sometimes included a ritual where people would pierce their chest or back with skewers that were connected to a tree.  They would pray while connected to this "Tree of Life," eventually tearing through the skin.  Piercing was considered an offering of thanks for the good of the community, or sometimes as a pledge sacrifice. Those who participated also earned a certain degree of respect.  The piercing Sun Dance was outlawed by the Canadian government in 1895; the United States implemented their own laws in 1904.  The full ceremony was never legally prohibited in Canada but it was discouraged or interfered with from 1882 to the 1940s.  The piercing Sun Dance is still practiced by some traditional people, even here.  But the Sun Dance commonly refers to the gathering for prayerful ceremony each summer when the Saskatoon berries ripen. The full ceremony became legal in canada in 1951; in the U.S. in 1978.   I've included a photo of this year's Sun Dance site here on the Kainai (Blood) reservation.  Since I did not participate the photo was taken from a respectable distance.

Dad was also a crier.  Each morning between five and six a.m. he wrapped his best blanket around him and walked through the camp informing campers and dancers of the day's agenda.  We met up with friends from the year before.  There were prayers, drums and a lot of songs.  At night I could hear coyotes yipping.  I could also hear the round or circle singers that would stop in front of our camp and sing until they were given a gift of tobacco or whatever we had.  As the sun went down I recall seeing about 80 horseback riders slowly walking and singing together all around the camp...

Within the outer circle of campers sits the inner circle of the Medicine Lodge.  The Lodge consists of the circular arbor and central Sun Dance Tree.  The event is presided over by a woman who has taken a vow of virtue.  Nothing begins until the women say it's time.

I recall one time when Dad was having a bundle transferred to him he brought all his best horses except for two.  The guy who was transferring the bundle asked where the other two sorrel horses were.  My brothers had to ride home and get them. Back then no one could afford a horse trailer.  They stopped the Sun Dance until my brothers returned with Dad's best animals.  Then the ceremony began again...

In 2003 a group of bundle keepers and traditional spiritual leaders from the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Cree, Dakotah, Lakota and Nakota nations issued a proclimation that non-natives were to be banned from sacred alters and the Seven Sacred Rites, especially the Sun Dance.  People on this reserve have indicated mixed feelings about the attendance of non-natives at the Sun Dance.  While some members of the Horn Society and the community agree with excluding non-natives, others are more tolerant.  I watch and listen, learning as I go.  Respect shown others goes a long way.

When the Sun Dance is over the lodge will be left to return to the earth.  People will continue their lives with renewed purpose and humility. They will begin the process again, preparing for next year's event...the wind will once again blow through the poles of the lodge, the tall prairie grasses will bend in waves like water on the dam.  The drums will be silenced.

Sources:   "A sacred force that permeates all things represented symbolically by the sun, who's light sustains all things."

Yellowtail, Crow Medicine Man and Sun Dance chief: An Autobiography by Thomas Yellowtail and Michael Oren Fitzgerald.   Ìt is an honour to give away as much and not to accumulate much.``  Thomas Yellowtail

Patrol of the sun Dance Trail    an ebook by Ralph connors, 2006

Conversations with Charlie Fox and Gerald Fox of the Blood (Kainai) Reserve, Alberta, Canada                                                                                                 THE SUN DANCE SITE KAINAI 2011

Pilgrims Healed at Lac Ste. Anne

Posted by Val Fox on July 22, 2011 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)

  Pilgrims gather at Lac Ste. Anne

                                                                                                              Photos by, Google Images

Pilgrims from many nations gather each summer on the shores of  Lac. Ste. Anne, west of Edmonton, Alberta .  Most are indigenous to North America and have made the journey many times.  As they wash their tired feet in the sacred waters they pray together for healing and spiritual renewal.

In 1841 a local metis named Piche asked for a priest to minster among the population living in the area of what was then known as Spirit Lake (Cree) or Holy Lake (Sioux). At that time there were only four priests to cover an area from Ontario to the Rockies; nevertheless,  Bishop Provencher of St. Boniface, Manitoba sent Father Jean-Baptise Thibault to make the trip.  Fr. Thibault blessed the lake and renamed it Lac Ste. Anne.  It was the first permanent Catholic mission west of Winnipeg.

The lifestyle changed dramatically for the indigenous people already residing in Alberta;  the buffalo were slaughtered, First Nations families were relocated to reservations.  The lake lost its importance for awhile and the current pastor decided to close the mission and return to France.  Upon his return Father Lestanc spent prayer time at the shrine of St. Anne d"Auray, believed by Catholics to be the grandmother of Jesus.  Lestanc experienced new inspiration during those prayers and returned to Lac Ste. Anne determined to follow God's request and keep the mission open.

Eventually the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a society of Catholic missionaries, also came to Lac Ste. Anne.  Founded in France in early 1800s, those brave men were particulaly dedicated to preaching the Christian gospel to the most difficult of missions - poor people who's lives had been altered forever by the influx of European settlers.  The Oblate priests cared for the people, asking northing in return, and tried to find peaceful solutions for warring tribes.  Many First Nations people were converted to Christianity.  Once again Lac Ste. Anne became a meeting place for the faithful, where traditional enemies gathered as friends under the sign of the cross.

In 1859 three Gray Nuns journeyed to the Lac Ste. Anne mission from Montreal.  The sisters learned the Cree language, started a school and painted the windows of the church so worshipers could stay focused on the Word of God instead of the beautiful surroundings.  (  Father Lacombe arrived in 1852 but moved on to build a mission at St. Albert.

The pilgrimage coincides with the feast day of Saint Anne (July 26.)  I have read that as many as 30,000 people attend this event on any given day.  Campers. tents, and tarps blanket the area as people worship together, finding a common connection.  Behind the alter are numerous crutches and canes hung on the wall from believers who came for healing then walked away without them. Other healings include sobriety pledges and changes in attitude.  I have been to Lac Ste. Anne and seen for myself.  Although I am not a Catholic the power of love and peace can be felt in a look or a song.  Services include the burning of sweetgrass.  The comforting sounds of drum groups are heard well into the night.

Yesterday the Blackfoot people assisted with the afternoon service.  The week also involved acts of pennance, blessings of the sick,  holy communion, recitation of the rosary and the fellowship of believers.

The missionary Oblates established a board of dedicated followers in 2000 to continue the planning and operation of the Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage.  It would be a new partnership with the First Nations people to own and operate the yearly event.  The goal was to ensure the continued legacy and sacred nature of the pilgrimage.  My sister in law Bernadette Fox is on this board, along with several other First Nations representatives from other communities.

In 2004 Lac Ste. Anne was recognized for its social and cultural significance and was designated a National Historic site in Canada. There are many website that provide further information, including this one:

Pageantry Includes Honour

Posted by Val Fox on July 14, 2011 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Image by Google Images

Imagine a riverside campground with tepees and RVs under the canopy of giant cottonwoods and big sky.  Beginning July 15 visitors are invited to celebrate the annual Kainai Indian Days Celebration on the largest Firt Nations reservation in Canada.  My Blackfoot family will gather on Saturday after lunch for an honour dance and giveaway.

An honour dance is held when a family pays tribute to someone, deceased or living, honouring them for their accomplishments.  The Fox family will honour Stephen Fox Sr., my husband's older brother.  During his lifetime Stephen Fox had been actively involved in Kainai politics for many years, and was instrumental in assisting the economic development of this reserve.  He was one of those men that packed a lot of living into his life.

When the large drums are played the ground will vibrate. Family members will dance into a large circle under the arbour.  After one round, friends from the audience will be invited to join, showing their respect for Stephen Fox and his family.  His grandson and namesake will wear his feathered headdress.

Following the dance, gifts will be distributed - elders and off-reserve guests first.  Gifts could include blankets, money, linens or anything usefull for the pow wow trail.

Annual celebrations like this are a good place to take photos as there are many different activities happening besides the dance arbour.  There are hand game, golf and softball tournaments.  For those who enjoy rodeo, the Indian Cowboy Rodeo Association event stirs up all kinds of ooohhh's and aaaahhhh's.  In association rodeos, participants try to earn points for a place in the Indian National Finals at Las Vegas, Nevada, USA later this year.

While munching on an "Indian Taco" or trying on a new purchase from one of many vendors, visitors will be treated to the sway of the "Grass Dance" or the regal entrance of "Men's Buckskin."  Dance competitions include all age groups (you should see the tiny tots!) and visitors can participate during intertribal specials.  Remember to listen for "Intertribal!"  Non-competitive dances are open to anyone no matter what fitness level you are.  A parade and church services will start Sunday's activities.  A midway is on site too with games and rides to get people screaming as they part with their money.

Similar events such as this pow wow will be held throughout many parts of Canada this summer.  Pow wow ettiquette asks that visitors do not touch the dance outfits.  They are a living history.  If a feather or some other adornment falls off an outfit, it must be left alone.  There is a special protocol for this and it will be taken care of.  If you wish to photograph a particular dancer, ask their permission first. Pow wows are family-friendly places with no alcohol/street drugs allowed and a respectful police presence.  Included below is a video for you that features a "Mens' Grass Dance."

Following Kainai Indian Days many of the participants will break camp and re-locate to the Sun Dance site (I'll tell you more about this on an upcoming blog.) The Sun Dance is the most sacred event for the Blackfoot people of Northern Montana, USA and southern Alberta, Canada


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This is the personal website of writer Val Fox from Alberta, Canada: soon-to-be published author; freelance writer/editor; ghost writer; animal and child advocate; amateur photographer and avid camper.  Welcome!


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