By LAUREN THOMSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on July 31, 2021.
Dakota Brant, local business owner and member of the Indigenous community, is gearing up to host a three-day powwow event from Aug. 13-15 and hopes the city will help support and sponsor him.
Brant owns Tribal Memories in downtown Medicine Hat and moved to the city three years ago. He is a member of the Mohawk tribe from Six Nations in Ontario. Brant has big plans for his three day long powwow, including many opportunities for education.
“We’ve asked the Miywasin Centre, we’ve asked mental health speakers,” Brant said. “We’d like to have one of each dancer that represents the different categories to be at a booth to say ‘this is why we wear it, this is what it represents, this is how it’s made.’ For example, it takes over a year to make a jingle dress. Each day (the maker) puts her tobacco down, says her prayers, makes one jingle and puts it on her dress. The jingles ward away any evil spirits, that’s why we put the cones on there. Even the men have jingles on their feet, it wards off any evil spirits and just brings good thoughts, good community.”
Brant spoke more about the clothing that dancers wear, saying it is often referred to as a costume when it is actually regalia that represents the dancer’s life and family. He hopes the community can learn about drumming as well.
“I want people to be educated to say, this is not just a song we beat away,” said Brant. “There’s several different types (of songs) and different meanings.”
The powwow will also include ceremonies for the missing children, women and men and the numbers that have recently been located at residential school sites across Canada.
“We’re going to be doing round dances and prayers and each night we’re going to do a blanket dance and raise money towards that cause as well,” he said.
The powwow will be in Southlands Park, behind Hillcrest Baptist Church; Brant expressed gratitude to Hillcrest. Brant has also planned for a camping area (tents only) for attendees from out of town.
“We’re going to be the only food vendor there because we have to generate a revenue to pay the dancers, drummers, dignitaries that are coming,” said Brant. “We will have Indian tacos, taco in a bag, bannock burgers, bannock dogs.”
There will also be a traditional powwow feast on Saturday evening at 5 p.m.
“There’s going to be a huge feast for all the dancers, drummers, dignitaries and for the public,” said Brant. “All are welcome to come out and join us. At a traditional powwow we always honour the guests that come, so that’s why we sit down and have a feast. We’ll probably have 60 different kind of foods.”
Brant spoke about the expense that comes with hosting this type of event.
“People don’t realize the cost behind the scenes,” he said. “You have all your dignitaries and your drummers; they don’t get a ton each but you like to be able to give you something for being part of this and taking their time to be there, so our basic budget is $25,000.”
Brant hopes sponsors throughout the city will come forward and help support the powwow. You can contact him at his store, Tribal Memories at 552 Third Street. His number is 403-526-1002. You can also check out the Tribal Memories Facebook page to see the full outline for the weekend event.