The 14th annual Echoes of a Proud Nation Pow wow was held July 9-11th at Tekakwitha Island in Kahnawake. It began with a sunrise ceremony on Saturday morning. The gates opened at 9 am and the first grand entry was done at 1 pm followed by the Veteran’s song to honour those who gave up their lives for their country. Everyone was asked to stand at this time to show respect.

After that there was the welcome invitation by an elder, followed by the inter-tribal dancing where everyone is welcomed to participate. About 150 dancers from the U.S. and Canada were to compete in the two-day event. During the dance competition the rains came pouring down in buckets. Everyone ran to seek shelter from the rain in the large tents. After about an hour, the rain died down and the bleachers were full again. The Pow wow committee expected 20,000 visitors to show up, and by late afternoon the ticket keepers estimated that 8,000 people had already arrived.

The rain didn’t stop the children from having fun. They actually seemed to like it very much. Some kids even went so far as to wrestle in puddles of mud and water.

There were 79 booths for the Arts and Crafts plus 28 food vendors serving everything from corn soup, Moose and Buffalo burgers, Indian Tacos and different styles of Bannock and desserts. Everyone was going for the Algonquin Walleye Nuggets.

Bill Constant, the M.C. from Northern Manitoba, always seems to be present at every Powwow. He never fails to come up with funny jokes. There was this one time at a Pow wow in Chisasibi where he joked, “There’s a child at the main stand, he seems to have lost his parents or maybe the parents are the ones who are lost.” At another Pow wow he said, “For all the Crees who love Kentucky Fried Chicken so much there’s none here at the Pow wow grounds.”

The next day it was nice, the sun was out, it began with the sunrise ceremony again.

The inter-tribal and dance competitions went on all day. At 4 pm the awards were given to all the contestants, and the returning of the flag was done at 5 pm.

By this time the emcee gave a brief speech to all visitors and dancers in the arena about how it was time to say farewell once again. He added there is no word in all of the Native languages to say goodbye but instead we say that we’ll see each other again. “We come to the Pow wow grounds because this is the best place to look after our children.” He finished his speech by saying, “Even if we don’t meet again in this life, there’s always the next because Native people have strong bonds with the spirit world.”

And with that the Pow wow was officially over for this year. A great time was had by all and everyone is looking forward to next year when Echoes of a Proud Nation celebrates its 15th anniversary.