More than 50 dancers of all ages are celebrating a weekend’s worth of successful performances at a powwow in Hawai’i, having returned to British Columbia on Wednesday morning.
The Laxgalts’ap Cultural Dancers have been preparing for the trip for more than two years, fundraising and rehearsing twice a week for the Annual Honolulu Intertribal Pow Wow in O’ahu.
The group of Nisga’a Nation performers is dedicated to sharing their culture’s teachings and stories through dance, and in doing so, ensuring they live on.
“Dancing is more than just dancing and drumming. A lot of our performances are based on our mythology, based on our history,” explained group director Sim’oogit Duuk William Moore.
“In order to learn the songs that we compose, we have to teach that to our members, and we find that when they learn the story behind the song, it’s so much easier for them to catch on.”
Dancers between the ages of one and 80 opened the ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday, not as competitors, but as guests. Moore received the traditional welcome gift of a conch shell horn on behalf of the group and local elders danced a welcome blessing for them.
“That was our goal right from the outset, was to expose our people to other cultures,” he told Global News.
“Some of our people, their world is so small, you know? Having to to see other cultures, other Aboriginal people … I think it was quite successful.”
The Nisga’a singers and dancers, he added, put on a show unfamiliar to the Kānaka Maoli — the Indigenous people of Hawai’i — that was rooted in the unique drum beats and movements of their West Coast culture. Moore said someone translated the song lyrics into English for their hosts.
“That went really well and they appreciated it.”
Barely back in their beds, some of the dancers are already taking about making another trip south.
There are more than 100 members of the Laxgalts’ap Cultural Dancers, but not all could attend this year’s venture due to logistical complications, funding requirements, and the need for a passport.
Moore said he hopes more will be able to join next time.
“Everything has been a great success. We hope that this will continue,” he said.