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Keeping tradition alive

Annual Lil’Wat Celebrations Powwow revisits traditional drumming, dance and song



What: Lil’Wat Celebrations Powwow

When: Friday, June 13 to Sunday, June 15

Where: Powwow Arbor, near Lillooet Lake Rodeo ground

Tickets: $5

The sound of the big drum will be echoing throughout the Mount Currie area this weekend, as traditional singers, dancers and drummers gather near the old rodeo grounds.

They are coming to the area to join in the sixth annual Lil’Wat Celebrations Powwow.

The event, which is open to everyone, is not unique — rather it is a traditional event held in First Nations communities throughout the country, intended to unite people through song and dance, and to allow them to forge new friendships and rekindle old ones while preserving their rich heritage.

Elizabeth Andrew is just one of the people handling the behind the scenes organization of the upcoming powwow in Mount Currie.

“It started off just to honour my brother, six years ago, and it just blew up from there,” Andrew explained. “…People just enjoy watching the different kind of dances.”

While the turnout varies a bit from year to year, depending on variables like weather and other powwows that may or may not be taking place elsewhere, Andrew said they usually get a good crowd.

And participants aren’t just local. Andrew said that they get attendees from all over North America.

“People come from everywhere — Alberta, Saskatchewan, the States,” she said.

The powwow is also a bit different than the annual Lillooet Lake Rodeo; it focuses strictly on dancing, singing and drumming.

“It’s a full-competition powwow, it’s a singing competition,” Andrew explained. “So far, we have nine placements ranging from $350 to $1,500.”

The women will compete in dance categories of traditional, fancy and jingle, while men compete in categories of traditional, fancy, grass and chicken.

This year, they’re also hosting a special dance event in memory of a local elder, a traditional Lil’Wat buckskin dancer, who passed away a few years ago — the Adeline Joseph Women’s Buckskin.

While the performance aspect of each dance is certainly important, a large part of the event is also the incorporation of regalia into each style.

For traditional dance, competitors wear regalia adorned with eagle feathers and beads, while for the fancy dance they wear a double bustle made out of brightly coloured feathers. Grass outfits are made out of either wool or ribbon, and chicken, or prairie dance, involves a smaller bustle.

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