To our beautiful community of Indigenous people & allies,
First of all, THANK YOU for being at our cultural night. Thank you times a million. We at
VYPER want you to know that you belong here and are loved and adored by the VYPER
community. Our culture is vast, diverse, deeply healing, and infinitely beautiful – and we are
grateful that you are interested in learning and getting involved. We hope that during your
time at this pow wow, you find peace, healing, and community – and that you develop a
deeper connection with the Creator and all of our relations who came before us. The purposes of this event are to provide connection and healing and to serve as a learning tool where indigenous and non-indigenous people can learn about indigenous culture, powwow etiquette, traditional ceremonies and dances, indigenous languages, and all other aspects of the beautiful culture we look to revitalize.
In alignment with these purposes, you have a family here, no matter what your lineage is and
where you are from. The fact that you are interested in learning and participating, as a
non-indigenous ally makes you family. We look forward to seeing you every week with open
arms. The teachings, languages, dances, ceremonies, and traditions that we cherish so much, and that are the focus of our revitalization work, are extremely important, and are at risk of further disappearance due to genocidal acts by the Canadian government both historically and currently. To this day, the current Indian Act provisions are discriminatory and are perpetuating the cultural genocide against Indigenous Peoples in Canada. By showing up
every week with an open mind and a willingness to listen and be taught, you are doing your
part, and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
We want to address – there are certain aspects of indigenous cultures that are reserved
exclusively for community members who are of certain nations or backgrounds. For example, many bands have ceremonies that are closed to even Indigenous community members of other bands. This is common, and due to the fact that they are sacred and specific to the band or families that they are linked with. This is not due to a lack of respect, affection, or welcome to other bands, it is due to the fact that the actions being performed and the words being spoken are often closely tied to generations of family stories and ceremony. They are often sacred and deeply personal. A similar experience can be encountered at powwows during ‘style’ dances, (all dances that are not intertribal). We want you to know that you are welcome and appreciated beyond anything we can express to attend pow wows. Further, there are specific time slots / dances called ‘intertribal’ where ALL community members, indigenous or not, are welcome to participate, improve their techniques, enjoy the medicine and music, and be themselves on the floor. However, there are certain styles at public powwows, that like the ceremonies we mentioned above, are deeply personal and spiritual to the culture they are linked with. It is for this reason that you may have heard that “non-indigenous people aren’t supposed to dance during styles at powwows”. This rule of thumb is exclusively due to the fact that they are tied to indigenous people on a deeply spiritual level. Many of our ancestors experienced hundreds of years of violence, oppression, murder, child theft and cultural genocide. These dances represent much more than following a drum beat or dancing. It is believed that our ancestors come and join us during pow wows. This is a way for us to connect with them, ourselves, our family and history. We tell stories, pray to Creator, connect with ancestors and heal through out unique styles. You can find more information about these styles and where they originate from in the “Indian Education for All: Your Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Pow Wows” booklet we have printed.
As young people who are passionate about cultural revitalization and sharing these teachings, it can be tough for us to pass on this message. We care about creating meaningful experiences for our families across B.C. The purpose of this message is to teach you when the best time for you to dance is, so that you can dance your hearts out and enjoy the experience with full confidence knowing that you belong. Intertribals are our most special and valuable dance at pow wows because it brings people of all backgrounds together, no rules, no boundaries, no prejudices, only music, healing, and togetherness.
We want you to know we are so excited to be on this journey with you, and we love you.
All our relations!