Pow Wow

Woman dancers

This summer in August Peter and me took a little mini holiday and went up to Manitoulin Island to attend the annual Pow Wow on Wikwemikong Unceded Territory.

We had a wonderful time and also met a few dancers, that we know from Pow Wows in our area. It is always surprising to see, how many folks follow “the Pow Wow trail” from one event to the other and dance every weekend.

Writing this I suspect you guys want to see some pictures!??!

Eagle Staff

Eagle Staff


Deer Clan dancer

Deer Clan dancer


full Siberian style facial vail

full Siberian style facial covering on Woodland regalia

Woodland Culture  regalia

Woodland regalia

















Wolf Clan dancer

Wolf Clan dancer

Of course I also wanted to see the vendors that were set up just outside the dance grounds, I was secretly hoping to maybe find and “adopt a special treasure as a memento of out trip,

What however surprised me is, that up here in spite of all the galleries advertising Native art and handiwork what we found was rather dismal, cheaply made – but not by any First nations people from this continent. Colourful Chinese Chicken feathers and plastic beads everywhere.

Dream catchers from China – or the Dollar store – or both….. 😦

Other things made of Moose or Deer hide but crudely glued together with a glue gun and adorned with plastic beads and said Chicken feathers…….

Tacky velvet pictures of the stereotypical Indian on a Horse brandishing a spear towards the sunset…..

Where IS all the good stuff??????

What will the small kids growing up now on the res think of as their art and artistic expression, when all they see at their cultural events is this?

OK, there was a Caucasian guy selling the big Navajo jewellery with Turquoise cabochon – VERY expensive….

And I can not count how often I was asked or commented or complemented on the Wolf pin and earrings I wore – which of course Peter had made. I passed out all our Bearpaw Jewellery business cards.

So, in the end, what did I buy?

My heart cramps up in sorrowful pain as I am writing this down…..

There was a fur trader from Alberta. He had strung up in his tent – among many other pelts, 2 Wolves. A black male – Huuuuge! And an almost white female – beautiful…….

Standing in front of her, my heart pounded loudly and I was transfixed…….

I asked about her.

The story is not pretty:

……Alberta Wolf cull…..

…..South of Slave Lake….

…..She was shot in the face.

I need not say more- I hope……

There as a gentleman from England, who has a cottage somewhere here and was looking for a wall decoration, eyeing her and an Arctic Fox pelt…….

Peter wordlessly gave the trader $ 600,00 and then we smudged her.

_DSC0552 (2)

What will I do with her?

How will I somehow craft her ruined face back together?

Today, a month later, I still do not know…….

But I visit her, talk to her … and now I am crying into the keyboard……

…..for her…..

…..for all the cups she should have had…..

…..for all the Wolves…..

28 thoughts on “Pow Wow

  1. I can certainly relate and have found myself doing the same with pelts. Bringing the Sacred back into the Sacred. Love and hugs Pam

  2. Some people, many, simply don’t feel that Sacred connection within and between all of Earth’s creatures. That is so sad…. How odd that the same fellow who sold the pelts also sold sage and smudging gear… It seems anomalous, unless he is simply the middle man and understands the dishonouring of Spirit…. The soul of beautiful white one will rest easier now that you have found her.

    It is reassuring to hear that some people sought out the source of your beautiful jewellery, rather than content themselves with soulless fluff…. xxxxxxx

  3. You are so luck to have someone who would do that for you. I got to go to some in Calif. and really enjoyed myself. Even met Steve Reeves from “Last of the Dogmen,” I think I came to his navel, or it was the illusion of all the fringe on his regalia! I really miss the connection I had with those times. Maybe someday…

    • This guy is a typical Metis fur trader. he has a large booth with all kinds of furs, pelts, leather, antler, horn and other Animal parts that people need to produce their regalia. He always has a smudge going in his booth and many of his customers use it……

      • Thank you for explaining. Hunting exists over here, but as a sporting/leisure activity or as a cull of feral populations, although farmers will also cull native fauna if their domestic stock are at risk of going hungry.

        I’m not too familiar with the hunting culture, as almost all of my experience of it was during our brief road trip in BC and the top northwest corner of US. I did see historic settlements with museum like snapshots of the fur traders. I also met a young couple who were heading into a beautiful park to hunt caribou. Having just seen those beautiful creatures i the wild, going about their business, I was horrified, but understood this young couple’s desire to out healthy food on their family’s table.

        I also, inadvertently, found myself, when looking for a B&B for my hubby and I to stay at, at a ranch that specialised in ‘outfitting’. We’d never heard of such a thing, and imagined that this establishment offered pony trails into the bush for those who care to do so. We didn’t expect to arrive at a large modern ranch home that featured dead animals on every wall and floor space. I was in shock. It was way too far from anywhere to find another place for the night, but my soul was spinning out.

        They were awaiting the arrival of their next hunting party, and the participants were being shown a video on what they could expect… I chose not to watch, and was looking through the guest’s magazine rack for a gardening magazine or something to distract me… the lady of the house kindly offered me a photo album, which I thought held photos of the house being built, as we’d discussed that minutes before. It was the most ghoulish family album I’ve ever seen. A gallery featuring many of the people they’d taken ‘outfitting’, in a success pose with their ‘kill’ and their smiling face. I felt physically ill… and then she told me that the young girl on this page had started shooting when she was 11. Now she was nearing her 16th birthday, and she was well on her way to achieving her 49 trophy.

        Still in shock as she kept speaking, I heard details of the 49 club that this young girl so aspired to. 49 deaths, of 49 different species, would win her her prize. She had to kill 3 large cats, 2 bears, etc etc etc until she had killed all 49.

        I can’t make sense of that. It made me feel ill, but it made me sad… what if one day that young woman found herself loving animals, not as furry, fixed-eyed creatures staring at her from the wall of her lounge room, but as living, breathing, creatures?

        I understand the inherent power and energy of these creatures, and understand the honouring of physical remains of a wolf, or a bear, or a turtle… anything… and I can understand the need to stay warm and find food, but I can’t understand the mentality of killing these beautiful creatures purely for entertainment.

        This inherent bias of mine of course puts a slant on anything I feel or speak of on this matter. I am grateful that you pointed out his cultural heritage so I understand his use of the smudge…

      • (I can’t find the reply button to reply direct to your last comment, Mi-Shell… this might end up in the wrong spot :-))

        The ranch of horrors, indeed 😦 It literally had my body and psyche in deep shock. Two young kids lived there, and they sought out our company, and played with us, and I had to bite my lip from speaking openly about all that I saw which so troubled me, as it was their life, but I so wished their life was different. And even more I wished that albums like that had no point of beginning, and no audience, and that those beautiful creatures weren’t stuck on living room walls, and that more of their sisters and cousins weren’t about to join them on other living room walls… At that place there was no honouring of anything but human competition… it was horror through and through.

  4. When it comes to the tourist stuff, it is sad but OTOH people who would buy a dreamcatcher of chicken feathers and plastic beads would never spend the money for a true artisan product. Sometimes it takes time for people’s “art” taste to grow and mature so some that would buy a cheap product now might have enough interest to mature into something better down the road.

  5. I don’t know that I feel qualified at all to write this, so I do so hesitantly. While it is horrible that the white wolf met such an end, death rarely leaves us in a pretty state. Is the body of a person less because he/she was murdered? And many times those who have had to exist with a lack of beauty (ugly), can teach lessons to others though that sheer ugliness. Maybe her face needs to tell that story, sad and horrible as it is. 😦

    • Yes, I have the feeling, that if, for example, we were set up there and would offer a good high quality alternative to all the cheap stuff,we would have done quite well
      sure, there would also be people who would love it and can not afford it right now, but often then we would tell them, where to find us and also, that we would come back the next year, so they should safe up…. Friends of us would love to do the Pow Wow circuita nd maybe we give them a glass case of good stuff to sell on commission…..

      • Yes again, Eureca, I will have to find a way, that the Wolf can wear her scarred face in pride and dignity! Since it is in 4 pieces right now I will have to find a creative way to make that happen. I have a few ideas, but it feels not quite right yet…..
        We I get going with the difficult task, I will write about it and there will be pictures……

      • I think that people mourn someone more powerfully when they have been murdered, as opposed to simply dying, because of the darker ugliness surrounding that loss of life. It’s true that death rarely leaves us in a pretty state, and I haven’t seen a beautiful deceased body yet, especially after the funeral places make them up to look ‘beautiful’. I’ve seen more than a few loved ones in that state, and I wished I hadn’t.

        Somehow, though, it seems right that there be an added layer of cleansing or honouring or… something… given the brutal demise of that wolf. I think we want to wash away the ugliness that mankind is sometimes capable of….

        I think there is a different layer to what eurekasprings referred to as ‘art’ (and I do take your intended meaning :-)). Some people will want stuff merely as a souvenir, a memento, for which purpose the fluff will suffice. Others, though, will clearly feel the energy of talismans and keepsakes, and they will be the ones who seek out authentic and beautiful pieces.

      • The death of a Wolf in the wild is never pretty. When they get old and are not fast enough any more, they may well get torn apart by their own pack members or a rival pack. Or they are left behind or chased away from the pack and not allowed to feed. Then they slowly starve. Some follow their pack at a distance and try to hunt on their own…. until…… Some Wolves in their prime get injured by Horse or Bison hooves and can not follow the pack and starve ….. A Wolf’s life is short and hard……

      • This is a reply to shewhoflutesincaves (don’t know how to directly reply via this thread). My FIL died in his sleep about a year ago (this month will mark the anniversary). He was cremated but prior to that we went to go see him. I do not think he had been embalmed and it wasn’t a viewing like you see in a coffin etc… He actually looked quite peaceful and almost asleep; I was quite struck by it at the time.

      • Yes, very true, sadly necessary and often “problematic” for shamanic practitioners!
        This is also a reason for me NOT to publish the -“box with wings”- post to facebook……

      • Yes I agree. I saw a U.S. seller on Etsy selling supposedly Raven feathered fans. I contacted her privately and let her know nicely about the law and she replied that they were dyed chicken feathers. That is NOT what the Etsy description stated so she was hiding the fact of what they were, real or not.

      • eurekasprings… I’m truly grateful that your f-i-l looked at peace when you viewed him.

        I need to correct myself, in that I have seen deceased people looking incredibly beautiful and peaceful, but that was in the moment of their passing, and for a short while afterwards… For those precious moments, where I witnessed my mother and my s-i-l take their last breath and the period of quiet and loving watchfulness amongst us that followed, I will be forever grateful.
        Because I’d seen Mum look so at peace, I listened when the funeral director urged me to look at her open casket to say goodbye. All I can say is that I wish I had not let that be my last sight of her. I’m hppy that despite that viewing of her body in the casket, my memory of her lqst breth is infintely more powerful, and is the one I call to mind when I think of her, as it was, simply, Peace.

        Bodies I’ve viewed always look taut in the face, overly made up and simply wrong… I know that people need to say goodbye, and if they have missed the opportunity to do so when the loved one is alive I expect this last opportunity is better than nothing, but I will pass from now on. They are dead, I know they are dead, and perhaps making them up to pretend that they don’t look dead is what feels wrong to me…

        I think what eurekasprings said about ugly “can teach lessons to others though that sheer ugliness. Maybe her face needs to tell that story, sad and horrible as it is” is right….. 😕

        I think we are still allowed to own feathers here, but it is illegal to pick up roadkill. Perhaps that is due to Australia’s seeming need to bubblewrap people, so that stooping feather collectors don’t get sideswiped by passing vehicles… I think it is useful to move roadkill at least a distance from the road, though, so that other scavenger or loyal mated-for-life species aren’t killed by cars, too.

      • Oh, it wasn’t criticism. I was actually surprised – as I have seen my father prepared for showing and unfortunately, seemed to be a professional mourner for the first 5 years of my marriage since very aged relative decided to pass away during those years. I’ve been to many services – my preference is for a very private, family only viewing (if the family wants), a memorial service and cremation.

      • eurekasprings (sounds so familiar :-)), I didn’t see it as criticism, I promise 🙂

        I just prefer to hold memories of people looking at peace, which I’ve never seen in the ‘touched up’ bodies of loved ones… I really think it’s beautiful that your father-in-law looked at peace, and that you were happily surprised 🙂 Myself, I should have listened to my inner guidance rather than being urged on by the funeral director guy… Every time I go against that inner urge, I am reminded! 🙂 My bad 🙂 The ugly side simply is a part of death and dying, and we really do need to address this unavoidable issue better than we do in modern society. I’m grateful that society, as a whole, is slowly coming back to a place where death is a fact of life, and where, if one makes the right decisions, one can have some say in how one might be attended to at and beyond death… 🙂 I already have the choir songs chosen for my buddies to sing, and I know where my ashes will be scattered… If I could be buried here, where I live, I would be ok with burial, but our society over here at present views that not too well, and there are legal issues etc, so if I can’t feed the Earth with my body, at least I can be scattered upon her… 🙂

        and thank you, Mi-Shell, for yet another thought provoking post 🙂 xxx

      • She Who Flutes – After many years of experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that each individual has to approach death and dying in their own way. It’s too easy for society to state how someone should mourn. Some want to see a body after death; some do not. Some want to be there at the moment and some do not. For me, if my partner dies without me there, yes, I will opt to see the body and we have already discussed, no embalming and cremation.

        My father died at home when I was 21 (living at home). The death was a shock though he had a history of heart disease. None of the family wanted the open casket funeral but since no planning or discussion had been done prior to his death as to what the family DID want, it was hurriedly put together and we ended up with something that served no purpose to anyone. It also was an issue because my father was an atheist so we had no “church” to help give the service and my SIL’s pastor gave it (very poorly and not at all like my father).

        I have to contrast it against my FIL’s funeral which was held a year ago. Also, an atheist, but a member of the UU with many friends. It was a memorial service with no body and it was sad but beautiful.

  6. Mi-Shell. I know that your work is honourable, and I can see you using beautiful Wolf’s pelt in work that has much to do with putting broken things back together, with singing the soul back home… that type of thing…. xxx

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