1. Grand Entry 2. B.J. (Lead Dancer) 3. Women's Group 4. Dancer
I had been visiting Ebb and Flow since early in the year, focusing my efforts on Percy Houle, a respected medicine man. In spring I presented Percy with his portrait. At that time his son, Darcy, invited me to the community's annual Powwow in August. I was told it was perhaps the largest Traditional Powwow in Manitoba. It proved to certainly be the largest I had ever attended! Last year over 800 dancers registered! This year the number was slightly less but still considerable.
I stayed for two days of the weekend event.
Ebb and Flow is exactly 2 1/2 hours from my door in Winnipeg. My first task when I arrived late afternoon was to discover where the Powwow was being held. I found a very large arbour erected on a field behind the school. Many food and some jewelry trucks and tents were already set up.
The Grand Entry was to start at 7:00pm so I wanted to be squared away beforehand. I quickly pitched my two-man tent on a small patch of ground. The temperature and humidity would be exceptionaly high (Humidex: over 40C.) for the weekend.
I photographed young Darcy Malcolm in his regalia. His striking black and white face paint certainly stood out among the dancers.
Darcy Houle directed me to his camper trailer. While Darcy donned his regalia, I enjoyed conversation with his father, Percy.
I watched as drummers stood their drums by the fire for a short time. Heating the air inside tightens the leather. This produces the booming sound the drummers desire.
Grand Entry didn't commence until 8:00pm. While one particular drum group started up, hundreds of dancers, young, old, male and female filed out of the western section of the arbor.
I had been informed earlier there are 2 occasions when I was not to photograph: 1. when I hear a whistle 2. if an eagle feather falls. I did my best to adhere to those few rules.
For the next several hours I photographed the dancing, first from the announcer's box, then I circled the large arbor and selected individual shots.
When the high humidity and copious mosquitoes wore me out, I crashed in my tent. I don't know how the dancers kept it up. I was told it comes from the heart.
The drums did not silence until after midnight. I really enjoyed their comforting sound while lying in the darkness -- like listening to the heart beat of Mother Earth.