Crowds Celebrate Health & Life At Sanford Bemidji Healing Powwow
Sanford Bemidji teamed up with Red Lake Indian Health Services Hospital and Cass Lake Indian Health Services Hospital to host their annual Healing Powwow.
A powwow is meant to be a celebration of life, and this one is no different. Today, dozens of people from many different communities came together as one to promote life and healing.
“We celebrate the providers, the physicians, the nurses, or any of the departments that are included with the healing process with the patients here,” says Joe Beaudreau, Indian health advocate and patients relations with Sanford Bemidji.
At a powwow, you’ll find traditional dancing and stunning regalia. There will also be lots of singing. The jingle dresses the women wear are also known as healing dresses, and each song played on the drum has its own meaning.
“This is another way of recovering. It’s another way of bringing good feelings. It’s another way of enjoying life,” says Brendan Strong, a drummer band singer with the group Little Bear from Red Lake.
The event acknowledges and thanks western medicine, but also reminds everyone to be thankful of sacred medicine too.
“The hospital itself does its work to help our people but also from the cultural standpoint from our traditional ways, these ways also works in that same manner,” says Gary Charwood, Sr., the powwow coordinator.
Another big part of every powwow is the feast that happens during the middle or end of the event. Along with the regalia, drumming and dancing, the feast is said to help with the healing.
Charwood Sr. says, “We always know there’s an invisible force. There’s a higher power. So it’s real important that we recognize them as well through singing and dancing, through ceremony and feasting with the food that we eat.”
Veterans also play an important role in the powwow. At today’s event, there were representatives from all three reservations surrounding the city of Bemidji.
“It’s a great feeling to carry a flag in, you know? I’ve done that for many years and it’s a good feeling,” says Jim Loud with the Three Star Warrior Society in Red Lake.
If you ever find yourself at a powwow, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s important to remember not to touch the regalia, drums, or eagle feathers but you can feel free to join in on a dance or two.
“Essentially just make sure you give people their personal space but you should never be scared of going to a powwow,” says Tarah Jackson, a jingle dress dancer.
Organizers predict this was their biggest turnout for the powwow yet. They hope it continues to grow for years to come.