So, you want to go to a Pow Wow eh?
I couldn't tell you with certainty when I started dancing at Pow Wows, I suspect I was around six years old. I have been going to Pow Wows for as long as I can remember and while I cannot remember when I started competing in dancing, I can remember my first dress. It was a black and green jingle dress and I remember being given it while I was at my mother's work by my dad. He had it made by a woman in Saskatchewan, where he was from and lived, and I remember being so elated by it, feeling so special when I put it on. I remember the sound, it was tinny because my tiny frame couldn't carry the weight of 365 Snuff can jingles so it was made with lighter tin jingles. It was perfect.
I danced for about a year before I won. Being at the bottom of the age group, there were many girls with many years experience on me so every Pow Wow was a practice run for me. My first time placing was at Moraviantown Pow Wow and I won third and I immediately used my prize money to buy a huge stuffed turtle puppet with a removable shell I affectionately named Frank.
Pow Wows are all fairly similar, you'll get great food at every one, the craft vendors are out of this world and the dancing is always full of love and passion. Most, if not all Pow Wows are open to the general public and we love to share our culture, hell, since day one, Indigenous people have been all about sharing...if you're respectful and loving.
Pow Wows have been such a way of life in my family. My brothers, Vydel and Gordon Sands, are phenomenal singers and have drummed and competed their way across North America many times over the years. My child and my nieces and nephews dance and they get to live seeing friends and family at Pow Wows during the summer. My drive to make this mini zine was to educate non-Indigenous people on some basic etiquette of attending a Pow Wow. Over the years I have noticed and heard complaints from dancers and singers at how visitors can be disrespectful and on the flip side, I have heard non-Indigenous folks complain they were not attended to enough. This mini zine hopes to bridge the gap between these two issues so both sides can enjoy the amazing events that are Pow Wows. Pick up a copy if you're planning to attend!