Nova Scotian woman to participate in Mexican competitive powwow event

Monique Chiasson
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TC MEDIA

A Millbrook resident feels good about her chances of winning “the world’s largest” competitive powwow.

Jennifer McDonald, 21, will compete in the Gathering of the Nations competitive powwow in Albuquerque, New Mexico April 24 to 26. She said there will be about 2,000 dancers participating in the open competition that will feature more than 100 tribes from throughout North America.

“I’m hoping to place in the top five. I think I’ll place. I know I will. I have three new outfits and I’ve been working very hard and practicing my dances,” McDonald told said April 12.

The winner of the 31st competition will receive $2,000. While McDonald would love to claim first place, she’s also thrilled to be a participant. This is actually her third time in major competition.

“I went when I was 15, but I got deathly sick with food poisoning and I missed the whole thing. I went again when I was 16, but I didn’t place.”

There are many differences since then, said McDonald, who has been dancing at traditional, non-competitive powwows since she was five years old. She began competing at age 12.

“This time I’ll have three outfits with me; the last time I had one. There’s more beadwork on them, from head to toe, and I’ve practiced (dancing) more,” she said.

In fact, McDonald now has her own bead shop and has been busy making her own costumes, or regalia, with the help of her mother.

The duo spent about a week to make her three costumes for the competition as well as 45 hours to make moccasins that McDonald said are worth $900. Everything they made has fine details and lots of beading, which is exactly what the competition judges look for, in addition to dance etiquette, said McDonald.

“Judges look for more detailed costumes, multiple costumes, matching and co-ordination, bright colours and lots of beads,” she said.

As far as dancing goes, judges will pay particular attention to “the dancer being able to stop when the song stops, dancing with the beat of the drum, and style.”

McDonald said she has a few other goals regarding the competition.

“I want to make a name for Mi’kmaw dancers … and put them on the map  … (and) I want to represent the younger generation,” she said.

Geographic location: Nova Scotian, Millbrook, Albuquerque, New Mexico North America

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