Arts & Récits Autochtones - The Dancer

The Dancer

2013 - Lauréat de récits

The future ahead of us, The presence before us, The drum beating, Tandem are our hearts.

Lisez l’histoire de Hannah Many Guns

Hannah Many Guns

Strathmore, AB
Siksika Nation
Âge 18

Une note d'auteur

It is quite difficult to maintain your roots this day-in-age – well, it is for me anyways. Like most individuals my age, I have to keep up with school, work, family, friends, and ensuring my future. That’s not a lot, but it’s enough to keep my schedule full. I mean, it can be pretty difficult to stick in conversing with elders on a weekly basis whilst uncovering everything there is to know about Blackfoot culture. These things aren’t a bother by any means, I’m not saying that; however, doing these things takes time and resources I just don’t have with me from week-to-week basis, and that’s a sad truth. Although, I do reckon many First Nations, half breed or not, feel that way, too.

Nevertheless, I do love to immerse myself in my Blackfoot culture, and I’m very lucky to live close to my nation to be able to hike around the river, write for their newspaper, and experience cultural celebrations. Of these cultural celebrations, I would have to say I enjoy the pow-wow the most. Yes, it’s basic and universal – although, these celebrations always give me a great sense of community. It’s wonderful, that feeling of belonging to a community.

Once, when I was writing an article about the Siksika Nation pow-wow, I couldn’t help but feeling connected to my people. I mean, instead of feeling like I was interviewing the contestant, I felt as if I were interviewing my friends and family. It was exciting, and still is. I now understand and know that I have a place to go when I feel disconnected from society and the people around me, and that is a liberating realization. Anyways, I wrote this poem based on the pow-wow because this celebration is such a fundamental part of our ancestry, and it is fundamental in how we maintain our culture today. I wrote it from the perspective of a dancer, which I have never played a part as before. I hope you enjoy ‘The Dancer’.

Lisez la suite

The Dancer

Dance: a single word standing alone in empty space –

Never moving, never changing.

Yet, this single word defines me.

This single word signifies my passions,

My needs,

My faith,

My philosophy,

My everything.

As I stand, heart beating, crowd surrounding me,

I feel the word multiply and engulf me –

A spark.


It can’t be nerves, the spark.

It’s faith.

It’s a feeling of belonging,

Being surrounded by a circle of my people –

I feel unified,

Tied together,



These people,

My brothers and sisters,

They feel the same spark –

They must, it’s invigorating.

This spark can make anyone feel infinite.


It makes me feel infinite.


So, I stand,

Preparing to fancy dance for my brothers and sisters,

Basking in infinity.


Slowly – silently;

Heart beating – lungs breathing.

I wait, alongside the other dancers.

I breathe.

In and out.


In and out.

I close my eyes.

In and out.

In. And. Out.


Noise disappears.

I can feel my heart,

Like a drum against skin.

Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum

I feel my blood flowing,

A river.

Lap. Lap. Lap.

Blood – the thick crimson that

Binds the other dancers,

Ocean of spectators,

And myself


A community.

A family.

Waiting for the dance,

Anticipating the movement.


I close my eyes – I relish in the

Anticipation – blissful solace,

Soothing my mind, controlling my movements.

It causes me to feel the rippling vibration as the

Padded drumsticks hover over the drums,

Mere seconds from emitting sound.

It causes me to hear the shuffling sounds as the

Vocalists prepare themselves.

Saliva – tongues – grunts clearing throats.


I catch that moment

That split second of


That silence before –



I open my eyes; my feet have already begun moving.

Left. Left. Right.


Turn. Swing. Arms.


We all dance – artistry.

We all breathe – spirits filling the space.

Spirits soaring as we





The others and I.

And so we move,

Huff. Huff. Huff.

And so we breathe,

Huff. Huff. Huff.

Deep into our lungs as

The dance heightens.

Deep into our lungs as

The drum begins to quicken;

Steps weave with passion,

Becoming beautiful –

Becoming soul.

And so we move,

Huff. Huff. Huff.

And so we breathe,

Huff. Huff. Huff.


I can sense the crowd as they watch

As I once did.



Longing to move and glide in such ways.

Longing to express their spirit,

Their soul,

Their culture,

Through dance – through movement.

Longing to see themselves in dress,

Colours excess.









A rainbow, a hue, a multitude of creativity.


I breathe.

I feel myself here, now, existing and thriving.

I feel myself as I am meant to be.

I breathe,

Huff. Huff. Huff.


Huff. Huff. Huff.

I move and glide, array of colours.

I move.

Drum beat.

Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum.


Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum.

Feet intertwined with passion,

Passion intertwined with memory,

Memory intertwined with history,

History intertwined with culture.







And we dance, and we move, and we belong.

Lungs expand,

Huff. Huff. Huff.

And we dance, and we move, and we remember.

Hearts ablaze,

Ba bum. Ba Bum. Ba bum.

And we dance, and we move, and we honour.

Constant motion,

Swing. Turn. Arms.

Beads of sweat drip

Down, skin sticking to material.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Moisture moving, covering my forehead,

My chin,

My collarbone,

My chest,

My stomach,

My legs,

My feet.

Proving passion – expressing determination.

All parts working towards

The final beat –

It’s near.

Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum.

I can feel it.

Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum.

Lithe are my steps,

Left. Right. Right.

In unity,

We breathe,

Huff. Huff. Huff.

I belong, I breathe.

Huff. Huff. Huff.

Together we move,

Like leaves in the wind.

Like snow in the still.

Like trout through the rapid.


We are

Graceful, a river – blood – flowing.

Sweat – coated,

We move,

Left. Left. Right

History behind us,

The future ahead of us,

The presence before us,

The drum beating,

Tandem are our hearts.

Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum.

I feel, we feel, they feel.


And then,



Huff. Huff. Huff.