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Planning A Good Celebration

D. Tootoosis

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      POWWOW ISSUE 1999      v29 n02 p23  
Powwow. Photo by Lindsay Bear
Photo by Lindsay Bear

"Since time immemorial, and now into the new millennium... ladies and gentlemen, please rise in honour of the Grand Entry. Hutchaaaa! Host drum, SING!"

Sound familiar? It's the signature sound of the Grand Entry.

Anyone who has been to a powwow lately, can agree that when hearing this, there is a feeling of excitement in the air. For spectators, singers and dancers, this feeling is pure energy. It fills the air, and welcomes all to the powwow. This is the feeling every powwow committee longs for, in their celebration. Having said this, consider how much work goes into planning a powwow.

It all begins with groups of people coming together in hopes of hosting a powwow. It usually takes a year or so in advance, to plan a good celebration. The first order of business is setting a date, and a site venue.

First and foremost, one or more elders are approached by the committee, with an offering of tobacco. This is to ask for spiritual guidance from the elders. Their guidance will be

(continued on page 24)


Planning A Good Celebration

D. Tootoosis

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      POWWOW ISSUE 1999      v29 n02 p24  
continued from page 23

needed from the planning stage, through the duration of the event. As well, it is required that all committee members participate in all ceremonies relating to the celebration. Once that is established, fund raising commences. Another crucial aspect is the announcement of the celebration.

Initially, the committee can start off by word of mouth. Many committees will advertise with posters, flyers, commercials, and possibly internet web sites.

A good committee ensures the following; that there is a suitable amount of concessions to supply food and drinks, that there will be security present throughout the powwow, a schedule is in place, outlining the happenings each day, all powwow staff makes it to the powwow, and that the powwow's finances are secured. Most important, there must be suitable toilet facilities. I think everyone who has been to a powwow, knows what I'm talking about! All this planning is still prior to the celebration.

As the date approaches, people are appointed with duties to oversee. Master of Ceremonies, the host drum, and arena staff are in place. Invitations for special quests and drum groups are sent out. Then there are the last-minute, finishing touches to be added to the powwow site.

The time has come, and the weather is good. There are many dancers, drum groups, and spectators arriving to participate. The site is organized, and all is well. We hear the first drum begin, breaking up conversations, turning heads, invoking an awe in the crowd. Singing follows this. The first Grand Entry has begun. The feeling I spoke of earlier, "The excitement," overwhelms one and all.

As the weekend continues, each day gets better than the last. Then somewhere late into the evening, the powwow ends. People are packing up, and beginning to head off to the next powwow on the trail. They are leaving in a good way. Once the dust has settled, the committee knows all their hard work has paid off.

For the committee, the satisfaction comes with knowledge that they accomplished their special goal. It was a good celebration. For they know in their hearts that they have done something very special, very spiritual for themselves. Now they can start thinking about next year.