By Neely Bardwell
The Kamloopa Powwow Society currently finds itself at the center of Indian Country outrage on social media after posting its rules for registering dancers on its Facebook.
“All applicants must be at least (1/4) Native blood, proof of tribal identification/status may be required; Each competitor must be in full attire at competitions, grand entries, exhibitions/spot checks and be of the correct gender for that category.
It didn’t take long for social media natives to voice their disapproval.
“Colonialism in all its glory. you should be ashamed of yourselves. We have always accepted 2 Spirit people. What do you teach young people? Ramona Lomu said in the comments section of the Facebook announcement.
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“You really forgot that the amount of blood is a racist and colonizing mindset that was first created to ‘raise the Indian’ to deprive us of our own rights… Do better Kamloopa, you do us all look, we Secwepemc natives bad,” Angela Kilgour also said in the Facebook comments section.
Many others no longer support the powwow, including C&T Tabulating, a company that tallies the results of competitive powwows via a points system, pulls their support, and is no longer going to serve that powwow.
“C&T will withdraw our services from the Kamloopa powwow. We support people’s choices, we support inclusiveness, and cannot in good conscience put ourselves in a situation where our two-spirited youth within our family see us enforcing any of these rules,” C&T said in a statement. official press release on Facebook. “Due to the continued outrage that has gone viral on social media and the perception that we will be the ones enforcing these rules, there is no way for us to continue to be involved without damaging our reputation.”
The quantum quarter-blood requirement and specification of “correct sex” are at the center of the outrage. Those who have spoken out against these rules explain that the quantum of blood is a colonial tactic that was weaponized against indigenous communities in order to assimilate indigenous people into the white world.
The rules also ignore two-spirit people and non-binary natives.
The Kamloops Powwow Society has since released an apology video.
“The Kamloopa Powwow Society (KPS) wishes to offer a formal and sincere apology to all those who have been hurt and affected by the rules posted on our Facebook page. This wording does not reflect how KPS has organized the past 19 powwows. We are inclusive in honoring our 2SLGBTQIA+ and will continue to recognize our loved ones. We want to ensure that our event respectfully celebrates a diverse Indigenous culture and community. Thank you for your patience and understanding as KPS updates the dance rules to reflect equality.
Although the Kamloopa Powwow takes place on Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc territory, the First Nation does not host the event.
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