Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins opens at the MAG

Submitted by Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery

“When your dress up real nice, your spirit loves that.” – Sharon Baptiste, Women’s Traditional Dancer and Knowledge Keeper.

Meaning, respect and love – these are the qualities that a dancer’s regalia carries. The Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery (MAG) invites you to learn about the origins of the powwow and see handcrafted regalia up close in the exhibit Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins, which will be on display September 26, 2020 to February 27, 2021. This exhibit features 7 powwow dance styles, with full Regalia and craftwork. Curators and creators, Patrick and Marrisa Mitsuing, have gathered the stories, worked with the Artisans, and carefully built the Regalia for this exhibition.

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

Adding headdress to maniquin

Finishing touches to Regalia

Powwow! Ohciwin the Origins was created by Patrick and Marrisa Mitsuing. Working with a diverse team of Indigenous Artists from Western Canada and the US they assembled each of the individual dance regalia on display. During the 2019 and 2020 Powwow season, they met with knowledge keepers across North America to record the origin stories of the dances they perform. The dances are: Men’s Traditional, Men’s Fancy, Men’s Chicken, Men’s Grass, Women’s Traditional, Women’s Fancy and Women’s Jingle.

“We are so proud and excited to launch Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins,” says Lorna Johnson, Executive Director. “The history of powwows and the way that they have generated pride and cultural understanding in spite of the repressive prohibitions that were part of the Indian Act, is such an inspiring story for today. The regalia that were created for the exhibition are spectacular and they represent some of the best work that is being done in North America. We are grateful to Patrick and Marrisa Mistuing for Deep rose and yellow male Regaliapresenting us with the original idea for the project, and for sharing their knowledge and their deep love of powwow.”

Gentleman showing off his dance movesPowwows are Indigenous cultural celebrations where many forms of dance styles are performed as part of the ceremony. These social gatherings, held across North America, bring people together to sing, dance and share teachings all while celebrating Indigenous culture. Each dance style has a meaning or origin story and a specific purpose. Each dance style has distinctive regalia and ornamentation that relates to the origin story of the dance.

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