Ohcîwin The Origins

August 30–November 26, 2022 at the Musée Héritage Museum (St. Albert Place, 5 St. Anne Street, St. Albert)

The Musée Héritage Museum (part of the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert) is pleased to present a special exhibition from the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery (MAG) that allows visitors to view stunning, hand-made regalia and learn about the dances they represent.

Meaning, respect and love – these are the qualities that a dancer’s regalia carries. Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins features seven powwow dance styles, with full Regalia and craft work.

Curators and creators, Patrick and Marrisa Mitsuing worked with a diverse team of Indigenous artists from Western Canada and the US to assemble each of the individual dance regalia in this exhibition. 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.

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

“This exhibition showcases incredible handwork that goes into creating these pieces,” says Musée Héritage Museum Curator, Joanne White. “It also allows us to celebrate indigenous culture and share that with our community to educate those people who don’t know about Powwow history. Few people are aware of the time when Powwows were banned and how Indigenous communities were able to later re-claim this tradition.”

Museum visitors can view Powwow! Ohcîwin The Origins from August 20 until November 26. As part of the exhibition, a special celebration event featuring drumming and dancing is planned for September 18 from 2–5 pm in the atrium at St. Albert Place (5 St. Anne Street). Everyone is welcome. Special thanks to the exhibition’s funders: City of Red Deer, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Alberta Museums Association, Waskasoo Museum Foundation and Marguerite Lerouge Watson.