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The Origin: Men's Grass Dance

The Origin: Men's Grass Dance

Posted in: Exhibits

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Listen to Knowledge Keeper Leroy Whitstone, a member of Northern Cree, and from Onion Lake Cree Nation. The Grass Dance is considered a Great Plains Dance, and Leroy tells a version from the Dakota people.

The stories told in Western Canada are that the grass dance originated with the Dakota and Lakota peoples. When Sitting Bull came north after the Battle of Little Big Horn, his people brought this dance with them and shared it with the tribes of Southern Saskatchewan. As the origin story was told, a warrior scout party would be sent ahead to find places to hunt, gather food and setup camp. They were the bravest and sleekest warriors. When they found the camp site they held a dance to make it safe for the people to join them there.

Men’s Grass Dance is a sway dance, where dancers move like the grass. It is for the most limber warriors as the movements are low and use all of the body’s joints. Dancers repeat movements on each side of their bodies to keep themselves, their thoughts and their lives balanced.

Artisans who collaborated on the Men's Grass Regalia on display in Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins (pictured left) include Curtis Miller Joe (accessories), Eric Mentuck (featherwork), Coralie Nepoose (beadwork), Yahsti Perkinskiller (head roach), and Emery-rose Assiniboine (cloth work).

The origin stories for the videos featured in the Powwow! Ohcîwin 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. 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.

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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