Every spring and summer the Aboriginal Communities gear up for the Pow wow season. Many travel to other provinces or across the Canada/US border, hitting the road for the whole summer riding the Pow wow trail.
“The Powwow is a gathering of people from all over North America. It is a great place to meet people sharing a common heritage, value system, and interests. It’s also a great place to make new friends, and that includes romantic partners.
Buddy Whipple, a Mdewakanton Dakota man, explains the historical basis for such gatherings. “You could not marry someone from your own tribe, or your own band, especially your own clan. So what you had to do was to go someplace else and get a wife (or husband). This is the way you found someone that was not of your own tribe.”
Leon Thompson, a Yakama Nez perce Fancy dancer adds that “that’s what the Powwow is all about–meeting new people and meeting old friends, and one other term called “snagging”, you know, boy meets girl and stuff like that. They call that snagging. The announcer says ‘Don’t be snaggin,” or “let her go or let him go…That’s how I met my wife on the Powwow trail in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. We just met and ended up going to the same school.”
A similar story is recalled by Harvey and Tania Goodsky of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe: “Nine years ago we met at a Powwow. We just started out as friends, we hung around together, and that’s all we were, just friends. We walked around and talked, and I guess it just snuck up on me one day, I guess. That’s how I can explain it.”
Snagging usually happens outside the Pow wow Arbour or community center where the Pow wow is being held. There are many youth and young adults that walk around and hang out, usually in groups. As a kid, my parents and grandparents would make my older cousins take me when they would walk around the Pow wow arbor. Little did I know I was being used as a contraceptive to help avoid my older cousins from being snagged.
As I got older, I too ended up walking around the arbor with my friends. Some would be snagged, some wouldn’t. Some would have a weekend relationship, others would have nightly snags. People would joke about tipi creeping, and if you were lucky you got a ride to the ‘49er’, a bonfire party by the river that would last until the morning and longer sometimes. Unfortunately for me I only got to go to the 49er because I was the designated driver. I also was really bad at snagging or being snagged, but I managed to get married, and have a chubby Indian baby.
Remember, even in the thick of Pow wow season make sure to keep yourself safe.