Pikwàkanagàn prepares for Pow Wow

PIKWÀKANAGÀN  – In one of the hottest summers on record, Janet Kohoko is the crew lead preparing for the Pikwàkanagàn Pow Wow this weekend.

As well as being responsible for the mundane tasks of preparing campsites and the vendors area, the crew also prepares the dance area and the arbour, where the drummers perform.

Preparing the dance area and the arbour is the biggest priority of the Pow Wow crew, Kohoko explained.

“We have made sure the grass is allowed to grow long all summer, so that the grass is long enough for the dancers. We water it everyday, to make sure it doesn’t burn,” she said.

The grass dancers need long grass in order to be able to stamp it down for the other dancers. They will lead the procession at the opening ceremony and they tamp down the grass, which acts as a cushion for all the dancing that will take place there over the weekend.

“That’s why we have to keep it lush and fresh for the entire summer, until the grass dancers do their job,” Kohoko said.

In the week leading up to the Pow Wow, the crew will be harvesting cedar, which will be placed at the top of the arbour. Cedar is considered a medicine tree that cleanses spiritually.

“Cedar has a cleansing power. The drummers go under the arbour. We put the fresh cedar on top of the arbour to make sure it is clean spiritually,” Kohoko said. “We have a traditional Pow Wow so we keep things as traditional as possible, hence the cedar and the long grass. Keeping everything natural. We don’t use pesticide, things like that.”

Kohoko said it is important that the youth are engaged with the preparations so that they learn how things should be done. It will be their ceremonial grounds soon enough.

Get your August 17, 2016 edition of The Valley Gazette to read the full story.