Ebb and Flow First Nation Powwow (August 14 - August 15/2015)

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.

5. Heating The Drums 6. Gerald and Medicine Man, Percy Houle 7. Darcy Malcolm Jr. 8. Erecting Dream Catcher

The weather that morning was not suggestive of a good day; the sky was overcast and rain threatened. Everything was damp from the night's high humidity. The sky lightened as noon approached however.
I saw it would take seriously inclement weather before this Powwow would move indoors. Food and clothing vendors set up. Vehicles continued to arrive.
Shortly after 1:00pm the Grand Entry was under way. A ladder had been set up to allow me photographs from on top the arbor. I had the best seat in the house to photograph the dancers as they entered the encircled grass.
Kingsley Brandon's commanding voice resonated from the speakers mounted around the arbor. Kingsley's knowledge of the proceedings come from 15 years experience. Also, there are several capable helpers who are quick to spot an elder in need of a chair or water.
Even more male and female dancers participated than Friday night.
I photographed Darcy Houle, a veteran of two tours in the Middle East with two older veterans of previous wars.
By late afternoon I was on the road and heading back to Winnipeg, happy I had been able to photograph this huge traditional powwow. I looked forward to viewing the shots on my Mac.

9. Randy (Dakota Tipi First Nation) 10. Three Warriors: Darcy Houle Between Two Older Veterans 11. Women's Traditional Dancing 12.Saskatchewan Drum Group
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