Pow Wows and First Nation Celebrations

A tribal celebration, cultural event or pow wow can be experienced just about every summer week in the Crown of the Continent, beginning with Canadian National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 and running into the annual mid-August Heart Butte Celebration on Montana's Blackfeet Reservation.

Here we provide a roundup of 14 tribal and First Nation events across the region, all readily accessible for the day tripper or weekend traveler. These cultural events are open to the general public, but we encourage you to practice respectful etiquette.

For example, when an eagle feather falls from a dancer’s outfit, the celebration is stopped and a special ceremony is performed. To most Native Americans, the Eagle Feather is sacred. Spectators should stand, remove hats, and refrain from taking pictures.

More generally, pow wow visitors should ask permission of dancers before taking photos. At the Browning Pow Wow, North American Indian Days, photographers are required to purchase a permit.

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Community Highlights

Canadian National Indigenous Peoples Day Events

The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, has cultural significance for indigenous people through the Americas. In 1996, June 21 was established as National Indigenous Peoples Day to honor Canada's Indians, Inuit and Métis. First Nations in the Crown of the Continent welcome visitors to celebrate June 21 in four locations with stories, dance, drumming and song.

1) Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a World Heritage Site near Fort Macleod 

2) Tobacco Plains Band in Grasmere, British Columbia, 15 miles north of Eureka, Montana 

3) St. Eugene Mission in Cranbrook, British Columbia where the Ktunaxa Nation has transformed a former residential school, erected to kill the Indian but save the child, into a luxury hotel and a Ktunaxa cultural and language centre. 

4) Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, where the Siksiska Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy hosts the Prairie Chicken Dance Festival. Learn more about 2019 dates HERE.

Pow Wows in Alberta, British Columbia and Montana 

U.S. government agents in the late 1800s were determined to stamp out Indian culture, including traditional ceremonies. But how could they say no when leaders of the Salish-Pend Oreille tribes who asked permission to celebrate the nation’s birthday? Now in its 222nd year, the Arlee Pow-Wow continues to blend the customary and contemporary over the Fourth of July weekend.

Pow Wows continue across the region all summer with dance and drum competitions, traditional gambling, and plenty of food.

5) International Peace Pow Wow, Lethbridge, Alberta February 23-24, 2019

6) Indigenous Cultural Festival, Lakeshore Resort & Campground in Windemere, BC Canada

7) St. Eugene Pow Wow, Ktunaxa Nation, St. Eugene Resort in Cranbrook, BC, June 24, 2018

8) Arlee Pow Wow, Arlee, Montana July 3-7, 2019 

9) North American Indian Days, Browning, Montana held on July 11-14, 2019

10) Standing Arrow Pow Wow, Elmo, Montana, July 18-21, 2019

11) Kainai Indian Days Pow Wow & Rodeo, Standoff, Alberta, July 19-21, 2019

12) Blackfoot Arts & Heritage Festival, Waterton Lakes National Park, July 23-25, 2018

13) Piikani Pow Wow & Rodeo, Brockett, Alberta, August 3-5, 2018 

14) Heart Butte Celebration, Heart Butte, Montana, August 8-11, 2019 

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