This past weekend I had the pleasure to witness the fruits of my labour actually dance. What a pleasure and a delight. Wiping the motherly tears from my eyes, I watched with swelling bosom as he circled the arena at the annual pow wow in Scugog.
In scorching heat, he danced for two days straight, in sweatpants, wool-festooned breech-cloth, black shirt and heavy headgear. And he danced like a dream; lithe, graceful, light and sure as a deer. Which, incidentally, is his clan: Wawaskeshi
The outfit he wore was handed down from his older brother a couple of years ago, and we have been adding to it and enhancing it with each pow wow. For this gathering, he wore for the first time his new porcupine-hair roach. It arrived from South Dakota last week and his father spent days making and adding a spreader and the two eagle feathers that adorn the top. (With the roach Ben is over seven feet tall from tip to toe.)
When his father and I split up several years ago, I stepped back from the native aspect of his life, and so he has grown up in a mostly white culture. Since he has begun dancing, he has discovered the wonderful sense of community and culture that is very much alive at traditional pow wows.
The Scugog pow wow is particularly inviting. Arrival on Friday is subdued as vendors, drummers and dancers set up their campsites along the perimeter of the grounds. Ben and his father and uncle nestle their tents into a corner of the field under some cool leafy trees. Within moments, Ben is off to socialize with friends he made last year.
As Head Youth Male Dancer, Ben leads off every inter tribal dance, in addition to the several exhibition dances he will do in his category. This means that he dances all day and into the evening and again all day Sunday. When I come back on Sunday to pick him up he is still going strong. No slowing down for the inter-tribals, as many of the dancers understandably do. For Ben, every dance is as important as the exhibition dance or the honour dance.
I am so proud of his dignity and grace, and so grateful that he can dance so beautifully in both worlds.
To view him in his exhibition: click here.