- By Neely Bardwell
The Kamloopa Powwow Society is currently finding themselves at the center of outrage from Indian Country on social media after posting their rules for dancer registration to their Facebook.
“All contestants must be at least (1/4) Native Blood, proof of tribal identification/status may be required; Each contestant must be in full regalia during competitions, grand entries, exhibitions/spot checks and to be of the correct gender for that category.”
It didn’t take long for Natives across social media to speak out in disapproval.
“Colonialism at its finest. you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. We have always accepted 2 Spirit people. What are you teaching the youth?” Ramona Lomu said in the comment section of the announcement on Facebook.
“Y'all really forgot the blood quantity thing is a racist, colonizer mindset that was first made to 'breed out the indian' to strip us of our own rights...Do better Kamloopa, you're making all us Secwepemc natives look bad,” said Angela Kilgour also in the Facebook comment section.
Many others are no longer supporting the powwow, including C&T Tabulating, a business that tabulates competition powwow outcomes via a point system, is pulling their support and is no longer going to be servicing this powwow.
“C&T will be withdrawing our services from Kamloopa pow wow. We support people's choices, we support inclusivity and cannot in good conscience put ourselves in a situation where our two spirit youth within our family see us enforcing any of these rules,” C&T said in an official statement on Facebook. “Due to the ongoing outrage that has become viral on social media and the perception that we will be the ones enforcing these rules there’s no way we can continue to be involved without harming our reputation.”
The quarter blood quantum requirement and the specification of “correct gender” are the center of the outrage. Those who have spoken out against these rules explain that blood quantum is a colonial tactic that has been weaponized against Native communities in order to assimilate Natives into the white world.
The rules also ignore two-spirit individuals and non-binary Natives.
The Kamloops Powwow Society has since posted a video apology.
“The Kamloopa Powwow Society (KPS) would like to make a formal and heartfelt apology to all of those who have been hurt and affected by the rules that were posted on our Facebook page. This wording does not reflect how KPS has run the last 19 powwows. We are inclusive in honoring our 2SLGBTQIA+ and will continue to recognize our relatives. We want to ensure that our event celebrates a diverse Indigenous culture and community respectfully. Thank you for your patience and understanding while KPS updates the dance rules to reflect equality.”
Although the Kamloopa Powwow takes places on Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc territory, the First Nation does not organize the event.
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