Well, Kamloopa pow wow 2018 has come and gone. As fast as time is going, I want to reflect about my weekend and share my thoughts. I want to thank all of those who travel from all over to come to the pow wow and hope you all get home safely.
I was excited this year because I have been making a choice to live a healthy lifestyle. When Friday night came around it was a tough night. I was taught an old lesson of how to deal with my emotions and problems while wearing a regalia and carrying the responsibility of having it on. I looked at culture and tried to figure out what the pow wow means to culture, especially when there is so much change going on.
I remember having 30 drums at a pow wow and at 2018 Kamloopa we only had three big name drums and one world champion drum in the contest. It seems people have forgotten that pow wow isn’t about making money or winning money. I wonder how many of these champion drums would come if it was just honorarium pay out.
I remember going to Lytton traditional pow wow and seeing Blacklodge, Lil’boy, Hawk River, Northern Cree, Southern Cree, plus all the local big names like Areosda Freedom and Cathedral Lake, all jamming in a hall. I would dance for hours intertribals forever. I remember when they retired the flags and the drummers would still sing and dance, owl dance, all through the night. And that was the norm at all pow wows.
Now as soon as pow wows retire flags, pow wows are over. Everyone runs away. Grounds empty. Power is turned off. Why is this? What happened to having specials and the pageant taking place during the morning? What happened to the princess talent contest happening on Saturday mornings? The only time it came into the program was the change from old to new on Sunday after the grand entry. To show who won.
What happened to the surprise intertribal points? Catch those who quickly get undressed for their category? If we are changing and people like me love to pow wow forever, WHY NOT START AT 9AM? So all of this stuff that needs to be taken care of doesn’t interrupt the fun of the pow wow.
I say let’s remember the past to adjust the weak points, as well as continue to grow a pow wow to make it fun and show people that culture can truly grow and not allow politics to be such a big factor in the outcome of pow wows. Let’s not be in such a hurry to show up to go home. Let’s let the real meaning of culture become the way of pow wow.
If I offend you, or hurt your feelings with what I have to say then ask yourself why you are offended. I like my culture. The real meaning of pow wow is dying and I hope before I die I can bring back some jam into my pow wow to give it back what it once gave me. A chance and a choice at a healthy lifestyle.
Denny Thomas is a grassroots Kamloops native who is striving to make healthy choices for himself and his community. He is soon to be joining the Kamloops Stories team to cover Indigenous Perspectives.