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The Origin: Men's Traditional Dance

The Origin: Men's Traditional Dance

Posted in: Exhibits

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Knowledge Keeper Cecile Nepoose of Pigeon Lake, Alberta shares the story of Men’s Traditional Dance.  With over 40 years of dancing experience, Cecile weaves the story of Men’s Traditional with Powwow history.

This video was created by Powwow Times in collaboration with the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery for the exhibit Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins. Click here to view it on YouTube. Artisans who collaborated on the Men's Traditional Regalia on display in Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins include Curtis Miller Joe (accessories), Marrisa Mitsuing (beadwork), Eric Mentuck & Donny Mac (featherwork), Yahsti Perkinskiller (head roach), and Emery-rose Assiniboine (cloth work).

Men’s traditional dance tells the stories of battles, hunts and victories. Traditionally when warriors came home from battle, they would share the stories of brave and courageous acts.  The dance includes some key movements that visually tell the stories.  The ‘sneak up’, shows how the dancer ‘sneaked up’ to the enemy.  The ‘duck and dive’, shows how they avoided getting hit by arrows when under attack. Moving quickly forward they show how they charge the enemy.

As one story told by Tommy Christian goes, it is against nature to take another’s life, and the dances the men would enact show how they ‘counted coup’ on the enemy.  To count coup is to sneak up and give a significant bump on the head of a member of an opposing tribe with a coup stick.  In lieu of killing them you humiliated them.  They would have to tell their tribe who had hit them over the head.  The successful warrior would then re-enact how they counted coup on the enemy, demonstrating that they brought honour to themselves, their family and the tribe.

The origin stories for the video’s featured in the Powwow! Ohcwin the Origins exhibition were filmed during the 2019 and 2020 powwow season. The storytellers in the videos are Knowledge Keepers, who were approached by Patrick and Marrisa Mitsuing, of Powwow Times, to share one of the origin stories of their dance specialty.

Thank you to our major supporters in the development of this exhibition and its video content: Alberta Museums Association, City of Red Deer, Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

alberta museums association    City of Red Deer    AFA

Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins

Ohcîwin is a Cree word meaning “The Origin” or telling of a story where something originated.

Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins features 7 powwow dance styles, with full Regalia and craft work.  Curators and creators, Patrick Mitsuing and Marrisa Mitsuing, have gathered the stories, worked with the Artisans, and carefully built the Regalia for this exhibition.

This exhibition is on display at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery (MAG) until February 27, 2021. Book your visit today!


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