Last Updated: January 25th, 2019
Stephen Flowers has been participating in pow wows since 1996 because he wants to represent the past and connect to his ancestors. The part Mohawk man bought the proper regalia, deer hooves that go with the beat of the drums and a headdress that represents his clan, the wolf, and after getting them made had them blessed by three grandmothers.
A pow wow consists of different types of dances, vendors for crafts and goods, and wisdom from the elders, but Stephen’s favourite and most spiritual part of the pow wow is dancing in the Grand Entry. Each pow wow starts off with a Grand Entry, which represents the native people’s past, present and future. He feels a connection to his grandfather and great grandfather, particularly while dancing as he thinks of traditions and his family.
Before the Grand Entry starts, each dancer selects a sprig of tobacco and most dancers hold onto the tobacco the entire time they dance during the Grand Entry. The tobacco is to honour ancestors and war veterans. People that participate in the Grand Entry are the war veterans, elders, grandmothers and dancers. Flag bearers carry flags representing the States, Iroquois, Metis, Mohawk, Military and others that represent the different native nations.
Everyone who attends the pow wow must stand up out of respect during the Grand Entry. The taking of photos is prohibited during the Grand Entry but is permitted during other types of dances.
To prepare himself before going to a pow wow, Stephen smudges himself and his regalia, blocking out all negativity and welcoming only positive thoughts. When participating in pow wows, Stephen feels as though he is in his element, he doesn’t want the pow wow to end and has a hard time leaving when it’s time to go. He wants the feeling to stay with him always.
Pow wows can be a momentary escape from the every day not only for the dancers but for everyone in attendance. People report feeling a calm serenity surrounding them like a gently heated blanket in which the mind goes blank. The sound of the drums is comforting, which Flowers says is because “drums represent the heartbeat of mother Earth.”
photo courtesy Catina Noble