Objects

Item Name: Photograph
Title: Unknown
Maker: Ted Whitecalf
Year: n.d.
Country: Canadian
Materials: photograph
Measurements: 3 panels; 6-8 photos on each
ID Number: PC95.8
Legal Status: PERMANENT COLLECTION


Extended Label Info: Showcasing a variety of powwow regalia, this set of photographs from the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre in c. 1995 documents several specific types of costume worn for powwow dance, including Men's Traditional, Men's Grass Dance, Men's Chicken Dance, Men's Fancy Dance, Women's Traditional, Women's Jingle Dress Dance, and Women's Fancy Shawl Dance. The powwow, or as the Plains Cree refer to the event, pwatsimowin (Dakota dance) is an important expression of Indigenous identity. In traditional teachings, the dancers dance not only for themselves but also for all First Nations people; they dance for the sick, the elderly and those who cannot dance. Under British-Canadian law prior to World War 1, First Nations people were only allowed to dress in their traditional outfits for exhibitions and parades, with special permission. During these years, many First Nations people still continued to hold ceremonial dances. In 1951, changes to the Indian Act allowed for traditional events to be held without interference, and powwow in Saskatchewan began to grow, resurging from the 1960s onward. Today, powwows are held in two ways: as either a traditional community celebration or as a competition event. In the past, communities would pick their best dancers or singers to compete for desired objects such as blankets, horses or dance regalia. Today, at competition, dancers and singers compete for cash prizes in categories of singing, drumming, and dance. Ted Whitecalf is Cree from the Sweetgrass First Nation in Treaty Six territory. Raised with traditional teachings in the Cree culture, Whitecalf incorporates those teachings into his professional and personal life. After studying Audiovisual Communications Technologies at Fanshawe College in Ontario, Whitecalf returned to Saskatchewan and became the AV Director for the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre, creating documentaries on Indigenous cultural themes.

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