Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Piikani Nation Youth Council hosts 2nd annual Aboriginal Day Powwow

At the 2013 Piikani Aboriginal Day Powwow
C. Davis photos and video
Chris Davis, Pincher Creek Voice

Piikani Nation Youth Council hosted their second annual Aboriginal Day Powwow at the Piikani Arbor on June 21 and 22.  Calling it the "Honouring  Our Youth Powwow", the event brought many from neighboring nations to meet, compete, and socialize for two days.

Bailey Bastien and Piikani Youth Elder Alexander Shade spearheaded the event, assisted by a host of volunteers.  It began, appropriately enough, with a fun and informative educational session for Piikani elementary students on Friday morning, June 21.  After the opening ceremonies and Grand Entry they were shown traditional games hosted by Piikani Traditional Knowledge Services Program Coordinator Jason Plain Eagle and guest instructor Richard Horn.  Horn taught the kids arrow techniques and a traditional ball game that proved to be quite popular.  He also illustrated the importance of the buffalo in traditional Blackfoot life.

Grand Entry
Byron Jackson acted as MC for the morning events.  Jackson is a University of Lethbride Kinesiology and Native American Studies graduate a former teacher assistant at Piikani Nation Secondary School, a former (and future?) Peigan Cowboys hockey player, and is currently the CEO of Piikani Traditional Knowledge Services.

Piikani Traditional Knowledge Services Manager Lowell Yellow Horn performed the opening address, and spoke on other occasions during the weekend's events. He recently achieved his Masters in Environmental Science. "I'd like to welcome everybody that came out to our 2013 national Aboriginal Day celebration," he said.  "On behalf of the Youth Council and Piikani Traditional Knowledge Services we're prod to host the event this year.  In light of all the flooding going on around the community I'm very happy to see that people have braved the elements today to be a part of our celebration."

"Sit back and look at our people's history over the years.  We've undergone quite the struggle in the last 100 years to get to the point where we are today, so today's the day that we celebrate our rich history  and connection to this territory and our land in North America."

Piikani Councillor Angela Grier also spoke at the opening cermonies and during other parts of the event. "I'd like to start by acknowledging our Youth Council and our Traditional Knowledge Services."

"Our Youth Council is very pivotal in the community, for those of you who aren't aware, making things happen when there's not a lot going on for our young people, and that's their goal.

"I'd like to just talk a little bit about something that I had the honour  of participating in recently. A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of Manitoba to host a gathering here in Piikani, and although it was small and intimate  we were to accept a coal, coal for a treaty fire, which we started, and my son Alexander Shade here of Piikani Youth came out... before sunrise today to make sure that we lit that fire.  We're lighting the fires across the treaty areas in Canada today in unity to bring awareness and to bring power to those treaties that are being voted on." She explained to the children that they might not yet understand the importance of the treaties, "but you will."

Fabian North Peigan
Fabian North Pegian, as usual, was positively exuberant when it was his turn at the microphone.
"Dancers, dance hard.  This is your final evening of this second annual festivities at the Youth Achievement Council. Alex, you've done a great job

"We'd like to honour all of the elders that are here in the Arbor.  We are most grateful to have our strongest leadership in our cultural circle,  our elders. For all of the children that are here, the purpose of this gathering is to commemorate our youth, our future leaders."

"Drummers, we thank you for pounding the drum. Every day is Aboriginal Day for us," North Peigan continued.  "Most of all, you dancers.  All the effort you go through to show your pride in your colours.  We're very honoured to have you in our Arbor."

Other activities during the powwow included Feather Games, a feast, a full-contest powwow, contest dancing, and Blackfoot-style hand drumming contests.  Trevor Kiitoki did his usual magical job as MC for the main events.  I counted 10 different drum groups in attendance, all of them primed to give their best.

A wonderful event, and the kids had a lot of fun.

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