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Summer Celebrations Underway

Posted by Val Fox on July 22, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Visitors from all over North America gather this weekend under the century-old cottonwood trees here in southern Alberta. They are dancing, honoring and feasting with family and friends.The annual event held on the Kainai  First Nations reservation near Lethbridge features a variety of activities for people of all ages.  Midway rides, food /craft venues and handgames also entertain.  This year four new members will be inducted into the Kainai Chieftainship which honors people that have made significant contributions to Canada's First Nations population.  Last year"s recipient included Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

                                                  Tepee Ears Adjust Smoke From Inner Fire and provide protection from bad weather

Dance competitions include traditional dances passed down for generations (Chicken Dance and Buckskin) and more recent dances that include Men's Fancy Dance and Women's Jingle.  Large drums surrounded by singers also compete for status and prizes.    Generations ago dances like this were held to celebrate the warriors' return or a good hunt.  Today the event mirrors culture and tradition (thru dance styles and outfits) while providing opportunities to live a summer lifestyle and to earn money and prizes.  But the most important goal seems to be the fellowship and renewal of old friendships.  Everywhere people gather around campfires and tables of traditional food.  Laughter rings in the air, as does the news crier early in the mornings.

                                                                                  Grass Dancer

Some examples of what is polite behavior among Blackfoot people are included in the following link.  These are also included in my Feb. 12/2011 blog.                                                                                                                             ;

When this event is finished many will move their camps up the hill to participate or watch the Sun Dance.  The Sun Dance is the most sacred event in Blackfoot Country.  I am cautious about what I photograph at the Sun Dance and at the opening of Medicine Bundles. There are strict protocols and if in doubt, I always ask first.  I also learned from my Blackfoot family that it is appropriate to wear a skirt during ceremonial events. 

                                                                                                                            Ribbon Dress & Moccasins


The next link is an article on the Sun Dance and came from my August 3, 2011 blog.   If you wish to learn more about First Nations culture, always be cautious about who you get your information from.  A  true teacher will never ask for money, although it would be appropriate for us to give them an offering of some sort (money, food, tobacco.) ;

The summer months include plenty of activities for those interested in First Nations culture.  Visitors of all kinds can attend and ask questions to learn what is appropriate clothing and behavior.  It also helps to have someone with you that speaks the Blackfoot language.

I hope you are all well and safe, friends.            Till next time,


Photo's:  Creative Commons

Tags:  Native American, celebrations, traditions, dance outfits, ettiquette, cross-cultural protocols, pow wow, feast, traditional cuisine, indigenous


Categories: Cultures and Communities

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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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