Each First Nation has its own set of designs and colours which people used to decorate clothing, tipis, containers, and utensils. Through these works of art, people express who they are as individuals and as a community.

All members of the family -- grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters -- had to work together in order for the family and the community to survive. Each person had his or her own tasks to do. All were respected for their work and for their talents. Today, new professions and new workplaces have been added to the old ways. Even so, people still observe the traditional values of working together and respecting people for their work.

A person is known and respected for generosity and service to others. Elders are respected for their age and the wisdom they have acquired on their journey through life. Leaders are respected because they have learned to balance greatness with humility.

Horned headdresses are worn by highly respected men. The horns are symbols of strength and, as such, bring protection and good fortune to the wearer.


Time Well Spent

Within First Nation cultures, stories are used to tell histories, to explain, to amuse, and to teach moral truths. Some stories can be told at any time of the year, but most stories are reserved for telling during winter. There is even a story about why stories are told during the winter.

Modern powwow dancing is derived from ancient traditional dances. Men danced upon returning from the hunt or from war to announce and display their achievements. Women danced around the edge of the dance circle to symbolize their special connection with the life cycle of Earth itself.

Today's powwow dancers dance for many reasons: to express their identity as First Nations people; to show their gratitude for life and its blessings; to lift the spirits of those who watch; and to touch part of their history and heritage.