A dancer displays red regalia during the Anishnawbe Keeshigun Aboriginal Festival.
If you have never been to a historical reenactment or powwow, here are a few things to know. You are encouraged to watch and participate in both events. Know your terminology. The elaborate, colorful outfits worn at the powwow are not “costumes,” explains Dana Logan, Grand Portage powwow chair. The outfits are called regalia, and each piece and part has a meaning and a story.
Taking broad “scene” photos is fine at the group events. If you want to snap a photo of an individual actor at Rendezvous dressed in period clothing or a person at the powwow dressed in traditional regalia, be respectful and ask permission first. At certain times, cameras are not allowed. Some dances are reserved for tribal members.
The emcee will set out rules, announce intertribal dance times when everyone is welcome to dance, and explain the signifcance behind individual dances. The emcee will also be happy to answer your questions. Details at www.grandportage.com.
Voyageurs navigate a 40-foot Montreal canoe in Grand Portage Bay as part of Rendezvous 2006.
You won’t see buckskin suits and Daniel Boone hats at Rendezvous, explains Pam Neil, event coordinator for the event. This reenactment, which has taken place since the early 1970s, is set in the Great Lakes time period, from the late 1780s to the early 1800s. Rendezvous gives history-lovers a chance to brings to life the annual gatherings where voyageurs and Native people would come together to trade goods and sell furs to the North West Company. Details at www.nps.gov/grpo.
The Grand Portage Reservation sponsors a powwow near Rendezvous each year. Powwows were held to celebrate the end of a long winter, the return of hunters, a good harvest, and even new romances. The powwow will include Native vendors selling all kinds of crafts and abundant food, such as wild rice soup, burgers, hot dogs, and almost anything you can do with fry bread – including fry bread tacos. Due to the decline in the moose population, the Tribe has decided to take moose off the menu.
Anishnawbe Keeshigun Aboriginal Festival
Aug. 19-21 • Fort William Historical Park, Thunder Bay
Fort William historical park has been hosting the Anishnawbe Keeshigun Aboriginal Festival for nearly 25 years. Marty Mascarin, communications officer at the park, explains the festival’s name. Anishnawbe means”original people” – this is the word that the Aboriginal people use to refer to themselves – and keeshigun means to “day” or “days.”
Friday evening’s festivities focus on Aboriginal art. Saturday and Sunday are full of powwow dancing, drumming, vendors, hearty food and people dressed in colorful regalia in the dance arena. Everyone is encouraged to take part in the festivities. As with other powwows, listen to the emcee for directions and information. Details at www.fwhp.ca.