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Saskatchewan was well-represented at the 1996 Mashantucket Pequot Nation World Championship Powwow in Hartford, Connecticut. Among the many competitors were the Blackstone Singers, from the Sweetgrass First Nation. This drum group captured the title of World Champions in the Overall Contemporary category.
This accomplishment did not come overnight. Lead singer Terry Paskemin says that he started the Blackstone Singers in 1987. At the time, he had been considering the idea with Dion Paskemin for two years.
Together, the two formed the Blackstone Singers and hit the powwow trail. Their first powwow was in Hobbema, Alberta in 1987. Terry says, "It was fun. We sang just to have a good time." He goes on to say that they also needed some practice. Eventually, they began to improve and started to win at powwows.
The 1996 World Championship was the group's fourth appearance. Terry says that in 1993 they placed fourth and in 1994 they placed sixth. However, this was before a division was made between contemporary and original styles.
After the change in classification, the Blackstone Singers finished in second place in the contemporary overall category. And, in 1996 they won the title.
Of the original group, only four members remain. The Blackstone Singers are: Terry Paskemin, Darrel Paskemin, Randall Paskemin, Dion Paskemin, Leo Paskemin, Marvin Thunderchild, Randy Armstrong, Keith Sharphead, Rocky Morin, Fred Ike, Jr., Sean Standingrock, Sonny Dixie, Isaac Lehi and Garnet Whitecalf.
As for future plans, the Blackstone Singers are looking forward to this year's powwow trail, says Terry. "We are hosting a lot of powwows," he says. And he is happy to still be singing after ten years. Ultimately, Terry says, "We are in it to have fun.... We just take it as it comes."
The group is making a recording that will be available in early July.