For two decades, the Sampson family and many of their friends have worked hard to keep the memory of their ancestors alive through the rhythms of dance and drum.
This year, the 21st year of the Yellow Wolf Intertribal Powwow, they have added another family member to that list.
John Sampson, one of the driving forces behind the annual event, died this year. His sister Angel says his passing has made the powwow committee — and the rest of her family — even more determined to make the event a weekend to remember.
The powwow is named for her mother, Alice Moody Sampson, who was from the Nez Perce tribe of Idaho.
When she moved to the West Coast in 1933, she gave up her own culture and converted to her husband’s Coast Salish way of life.
The Yellow Wolf powwow practises the Coast Salish tradition of welcoming visitors onto their lands, while introducing people to the Nez Perce ways.
The Yellow Wolf Powwow is August 1 to 3 a the Tsartlip First Nation fairground at 800 Stelly’s X Rd. near Brentwood Bay.
The first Grand Entry begins Friday night at 7 p.m., with dancing and drumming competitions that last all weekend. Sampson said her family is providing breakfast Saturday and Sunday, while vendors and artists line the grounds around the main dancing and drumming circle.
Murray Sampson, a dancer and the powwow’s ‘whip man’ (he keeps everyone in the circle moving), said his brother John was a great teacher of dance and held dear the ceremony of the powwow.
“He was tireless in the work he did over the years,” Angel said. “It has been tough going on without him.”
Virgil Sampson, the youngest of the brothers, is a local artist and said he is always amazed at who turns up at the powwow.
“Last year, I met a couple who said they had come all the way from Switzerland to see their first powwow — they chose this one!”
Angel said that everyone is welcome to come out to the powwow. There will be bleachers around the dance circle, but encourages people to bring lawn chairs or blankets as they do fill up fast.
The weekend will see dancers and drummers, young and old, sharing First Nations culture and music among the different peoples attending the event. Angel said the Yellow Wolf Powwow, while not as large as some, has a friendly atmosphere with a lot to see and do — including the always popular salmon barbecue that starts on Saturday.
Learn more by emailing Angel at email@example.com.
— with files from Devon MacKenzie