Event Photography – Tsuu T’ina Rodeo & PowWow
For years I’ve planned to take the 30 minute drive west to check out the Tsuu T’ina rodeo and Pow Wow held annually in July at the Redwood Rodeo Grounds near Bragg Creek. Celebrating First Nations people, it’s a huge cultural gathering bringing bands together from across Canada and the US. From pup tent to Teepee, full blown luxury trailers and everything in between, the grounds are ‘wall-to-wall’ campers. Smoke filled air from campfires abounds. Security is tight and this is a ‘dry’ event so they’re diligent in checking for alcohol, drugs and other stimulants.
The rodeo showcases talented up and coming riders – many of whom participate in the larger circuits including the Calgary Stampede. The grounds are up close and personal allowing guests to hang out at the rail, or wander the chutes/staging areas (which I didn’t discover until it was too late). Youth are encouraged to participate and women play an active role beyond traditional barrel racing. Stakes are high and tumbles just as hard as in other pro-rodeo events. Livestock is strong, healthy, and well looked after.
The nearby Beaverdome is a huge explosion of colourful costumes, powerful drums and talented dancers. Four shared values at all Pow Wows are tradition, respect, honour and generosity. Twenty-six separate drum circles each take a turn at spinning the crowd into a dancing frenzy complete with singing, facial expressions, whoops and shrieks all telling a story. Bystanders are energized by the power of the beat and the sense of community and spirit within the people. Modern mixes with tradition. Intricately hand-beaded and feathered costumes, adorned with articles of personal meaning, and often generous quantities of bells add to the vibrance. The dancers will happily explain the meaning to those who ask.
Sadly I couldn’t spend the night – or return for the rest of weekend, but my first experience was one of magical splendour, along with close to 300 photos shot. What better way to round it out than with a sunset that was ‘just peachy’.