Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Napi Pow Wow a huge success

Drummers at the Napi Pow Wow
Phil Burpee photo

Chris Davis and Toni Lucas with submitted material

The Annual Napi Pow Wow was held at Pincher Creek's Community Hall last weekend, from Friday evening, January 20 to Sunday evening, January 22.  "This competition is to mark and help celebrate the Napi Friendship Center Association being here for 40 years," said Napi Board President Wes Crowshoe. The Centre was established in 1972 and has provided continuous services since that time.

Dancers at the Napi Pow Wow
C. Davis photo
Napi has held a number of competition Pow Wows since the 1990s, with the most recent held in 2001.  It was a recognized event under Quinton Crowshoe's leadership, although it had lapsed in recent times.  Residents of the Kainai Minimum Security Corrections facility were among the many hands that helped to set up for the Pow wow.

Miss Tiny Tot  Alexia Smith and her cousin
Emma Running Rabbit playing and practicing
while waiting to dance

T. Lucas photo

A riot of colour and sound filled the hall.  Twelve drum groups provided an almost non-stop sonic backdrop for the festivities and the floor was constantly filled and refilled with spectacularly costumed dancers.  The hall was filled to its 750 person capacity for most of the weekend, with people being turned away until other people left at several points.

Jaimie Medicine Crane and Curt Young
T. Lucas photo

Former Miss Blackfoot Canada Jamie Medicine Crane was one of the celebrities at the event.  She was there with along with her partner Curt Young of Young Medicine.  "We run a performance company that is a mix of traditional and contemporary performing arts," she said. "We recently performed in Peru, at the Worlds Indigenous Peoples Conference for Education, and in  Los Angeles  California for the World Championship for Performing Arts. We are going down to Memphis, Tennessee in a few weeks to help represent western Canada through Travel Alberta and British Columbia."

Napi President Wes Crowshoe
T. Lucas photo
Wes Crowshoe expressed his appreciation for the many hands that contributed to the event.  "I would like to thank all those that helped to support us for this Pow Wow and make it a success.  We have people who have donated their time, money, and experience. We appreciate the staff and volunteers that have come out, all the drummers and dancers that have shared their talent, and all the people who have come to share in our culture," he said.

C. Davis photo
In 2012 the Napi Friendship Centre will assume full ownership of its building equity. The original mandate of Friendship Centres was to provide a safe haven and cultural decompression place for Native peoples coming into the city from off Reserve. Not only were there friendly faces, smells and customs present in the Centres, but also help with securing jobs and/or services and/or accommodation. It is not generally understood that the ability of Aboriginal people to travel freely off Reserve without the written permission of the Indian Agent has only pertained since the early 1960s.

Kanai Nation's Marvin Calf Robe and Curly Twigg
wait to perform a Chicken Dance

T. Lucas photo
Today, Friendship Centres are increasingly dedicated to bridging the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal urban populations. Such is the dynamism of modern urban aboriginal populations that it is no longer a question of merely providing contingencies for people coming in off the Reserve, but rather seeing to it that urban Aboriginal culture assumes its rightful place in Canada's future. The majority of Canada's Aboriginal population is now urban, and of that, the majority of that group is under 30. These are young, wired, motivated, increasingly well-educated global citizens with a grounding in Native ethics, culture and perceptions. Friendship Centres no longer go cap-in-hand. They are increasingly at the vanguard of urban evolution.

C. Davis photo
"Going forward, we would like to continue to help bridge the gap between non-native and aboriginal members of the community for Pincher Creek, Piikani Nation, and the area, so we can help to build a future for the young people in the area," Wes Crowshoe explained.  "Napi runs many programs.  One is a cultural program that has the elders from the Piikani Nation come in and teach our cultural and raise awareness for younger people.  We also house the Pincher Creek Food Bank within The Napi Center," continued Crowshoe.  "That helps people from the town of Pincher Creek, Cowley, Lundbreck, Twin Butte, and Piikani Nation.  It is there to offer help to everyone who needs that service in this area."

C. Davis photo
"We have our monthly soup and bannock, and alternative High School education in the basement of the Friendship Center.  We have an Elders In-Resident program where elders come and teach the Blackfoot courses," Wes Crowshoe explained.

"We are expanding."

"Part of our goal is to take young people who are moving into Pincher Creek and offer them assistance.  We help them learn what the community has to offer, and where to find it."

"There are 119 Napi Friendship Centers across Canada, none of them on reserves, all in cities and towns."

Related stories:
Napi Pow Wow ongoing this weekend
Note: We will be publishing a page of videos from this event soon, once we've had time to process them and upload them to Youtube.

Related links:

Phil Burpee photo

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