Theodore Bison says he was proud that he had the opportunity of dancing his heart out for those who are unable, because they are unhealthy, disabled and elderly or incarcerated, at this year’s 35th Annual FNUniv Spring Powwow Celebration.
Bison began dancing powwow at the age of 2 and carried on his traditional lifestyle by the good influence of his parents Roy and Carla Bison from the Ocean man First Nation. “When I became a teenager I started realizing that I was getting a lot of responsibilities as a young man, I wanted to be a good role model.”
Not only does Bison see the powwow trail as a way for youth to stay out of trouble, as a father, he says, “I want my kids to know that their father stayed away from those kinds of things [drugs and alcohol]. I want to be a good role model for my children.”
Bison feels a strong connection with his style of dance, which is a representation of a Horse. This style of dance is inherited through the Southern Oklahoma tribes such as the Cheyenne.
Bison explains, “When you see the men’s fancy dancers dance they’re lifting up their arms and their legs and they’re trying to have perfect posture doing these moves. What that represents is when a horse shows off. It starts bucking. It starts puffing out its chest. It starts rocking its head or kicking out, dabbing the ground with its hoof. That’s what those dance moves represent. It is a very masculine dance.”
Another proud participant was Whitney Oaks, who just completed her first year at the FNUniv in the Faculty of Arts. She was chosen as the 2013 Miss FNUniv Princess. She feels that her role as the new Miss FNUniv is to assist others to identify with the importance of post-secondary education. Oak’s says, “In this day and age we need education to survive. We can no longer rely on high school diplomas.”
Oak’s who is an old style Jingle dress dancer, respects her style of dance. Oak’s says, “Old style jingle is more about being graceful. It is a healing dance. It represents all aspects of healing and each jingle represents each day in a year.” Oak says the FNUniv powwow is one of her favorite powwows, and she looks forward to representing the University this upcoming powwow season.
Behind the scenes, Richard Missens, Chair of the FNUniv powwow committee had concerns about the powwow’s attendance after the change in their schedule. “My biggest concern was to let the people know [about postponing the powwow], said Missens. “They travel from all over.”
The FNUniv Spring Powwow Celebration opened up doors to dancers and singers from all across the country on the weekend of May 11th. “This is the longest-standing powwow in Saskatchewan and hit a milestone this year, being the 35th Annual Powwow. It is the kick off to the Powwow season,” Missens said.
He says, “The attendance was down this year, as well as the dancer count was down. last year we had a little over 600 and this year we had 478 dancers.”
After the change in schedule, the powwow committee did what they could to reassure everyone that the powwow would still go on. Missens said, “To have faculty, staff and students as part of the University engage with the powwow, it really adds something different to us. It really shows our pride as First Nations University, celebrating culture, song and dance.”
Missens says, “This year we celebrated something I think is pretty unique. We had on Friday [the day before the powwow] the first Alumni homecoming. We welcomed representatives from our 4000 Alumni.” The Alumni Association hosted a Round dance Friday night before the powwow, which welcomed the Alumni and people from all over. Missens says, “That was really unique. T hey brought a lot of people in and the place was just jumping.”
Alumnus and dancer Robyn Morin is a Contemporary Women’s Fancy Shawl Dancer and participated in the powwow event. She says, “It was still a good a powwow. It’s not the amount of people that make up the powwow. It’s the vibe, the singing and the dancing. Everybody still came together in a good way and enjoyed their selves.”