Gloria Nahanee is a Traditional Powwow Dancer who attended St. Paul's Indian Day School in the 1950s where she was taught Scottish, Irish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Spanish and square dances by nuns, who also made dance costumes. It wasn't until her own daughter began to naturally dance at age six that she began to explore the dancing of her own culture. The Squamish Nation had held powwows in the 1940s and 1950s, sometimes lasting ten days. "I just remember I ran away and hid at the other end of the field," she recalls in Spirit of Powwow (Hancock, 2003 $39.95), written with Kay Johnstone. "I thought I had to dance. The regalia and the noise scared me at first. I remember the stage where our ancestors Uncle Dominic Charlie and August Jack, did the Squamish songs and dances... After 1958 the powwows disappeared for 30 years." In the late 1980s Nahanni travelled to powwows for two years, co-founded the Squamish Nation Dancers in 1987, and organized the first modest revival of the Squamish powwow in 1988. It's now a three-day event that attracts 200 dancers and an audience of up to 4,000. "The old spirits told me they wanted the powwow revived," she says, "and that our young people would carry this on." Spirit of Powwow is an illustrated introduction to, and celebration of, the powwow dances and traditions.

"Kay Johnston has worked for ICBC and the Ministry of Education as a writer, educator and consultant for public education programming on issues such as health, safety and career and personal planning. She currently works as a high school counselor in British Columbia. Gloria Nahanee developed and teaches the Chan Es7a7awts program at Eslha7an, a program designed for Squamish Nation elementary students experiencing difficulty at school." -- jacket copy


Spirit of Powwow (Hancock, 2003)

[BCBW 2003] "Dance"