Monday, October 10, 2016

Chilcotin Holidays

The costumes of the Pow Wow

The Pow Wow in Pemberton was based on the traditional gatherings of the first nations of North America. From my own eyes and interpretation I saw glimpses of traditional costume, that being animal furs and buckskins. The majority of the costumes were made from modern looking fabrics and colour woven into the style of the old Native American.

I will first describe the more modern looking outfits and end with the traditional animal skins. They had animal figures stitched onto the arms or backs of the shirts. Though these modern garbs were not old looking they still had eagle feathers which were made into head dresses of great size and also made for wear on the back. This use of wearing the feathers on the lower back is to replicate the back of a bird where their feathers are sticking out more.

Their clothes have tassels hanging from the arms and legs, this being on both men and women fashion. This last part is another traditional accessory adopted to their modern costume. The colours of the costumes were many and very bright and vibrant. There was red, green, purple, yellow, pink and all this reminded me of the Mexican tribes and how they used to have their brightly woven fabrics. This also made me wonder about that even though this is such a vast continent, the fashions of the first nations still travelled the length and breadth of it over the centuries.

The women’s attire was shaped in the traditional buckskin design. This is having a long straight dress reaching to their ankles. Their's too was brightly coloured and some had small wooden and plastic tubes sewn on. The idea of these small tubes is that they are sewn next to each other all on the body of the dress and whenever they move they make a sound of hitting one onto another. When they were all dancing this sound was loud and rhythmic.

The men for the most part mimicked a bird, in costume and movement and some had red face paint across their eyes.

The traditional costumes on display were not many, but knowing a bit about turning hides into leather and then into clothes, I was more interested in these peoples outfits. The leather on some are a darker shade of brown and sometimes this is because when you smoke the hide after stretching, the smoke is tanning the skin and depending on how long you do this for it can be a light or dark brown. Other times the different tans are because the animal skin itself is different for example, an Elk hide can be red brown in colour and this was on display at the Pow Wow. There was cowhide also on display and someone taking part in the event informed me that this is a lot lighter than a deer skin. The man wearing the cowhide skins also adorned an impressive wolfs head and back furs. It covered his head with just his face showing. The wolf fur continued down and covered his back. He was the only one dancing as the wolf and not the bird. The outfits were trousers with tassels and on their body were shirts that came down to mid-thigh.

I certainly learned a few more things about the different animal skins and their colours and I would go again to an event like this.

Chilcotin Holidays

About Chilcotin Holidays

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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