Who We Are
The Grand River ‘Champion of Champions’ Powwow Committee is a group of highly motivated, community spirited volunteers who have for the past three decades, staged and organized, on behalf of the Six Nations of the Grand River, an Aboriginal Multicultural event, annually the fourth weekend of July; so as to promote our rich arts heritage by showcasing our ‘pride’ in music, dance, arts and crafts.
Many Native Americans from the United States now participate as well. The forum for this expression in the arts has been coined a “Powwow” and is always presented with the utmost dignity. The event takes place in the open-air, during the afternoon and on into the evening under lights. It has been held at Chiefswood Park, on the grounds of the former Estate of the Mohawk Poetess E. Pauline Johnson, at the Six Nations of the Grand River Community.
Around 1977, a few people from the Six Nations community began to dance at Pow Wow’s throughout Ontario. One night in 1979, sitting around the campfire at a pow wow, the discussion turned to “Why don’t we host a pow wow at home?” The wheels started turning and the work began. The Grand River “Champion of Champions” Pow Wow Committee was formed and it was decided to have the first Pow Wow in 1980.
The term “Champion of Champions” was introduced as an added incentive to attract dancers. The dancer that would accumulate the most points throughout the weekend, would be deemed the “Champion of Champions” and receive a trophy, as well as have their name engraved on a large trophy that is displayed by the Pow Wow Committee. A date was picked and it was decided that the pow wow would be held annually on the fourth weekend in July. It was also agreed that the Committee and everyone involved in organizing the event would be volunteers.
As with any event, money was needed. The Committee began plans for various fundraising events and venues. It needed startup cash, so four families within the organization were able to loan $500.00 each to the Pow Wow. With this $2,000.00 kitty, fundraising began. The Committee formed a catering service and provided this service to many other organizations throughout the next few years. Turkey shoots were held and donations for prizes were solicited from friends and family. Elimination draws were held, a car was raffled off and other raffles held as well.
Those dancers that were a part of the Committee continued to promote the pow wow at other pow wows and recruited people to assist in the capacity of head judge, host drum, MC and Arena Director. Advertising throughout the local area and cities was carried out.
In 1980 the first Grand River “Champion of Champions” Pow Wow was held. When that first Grand Entry took place, it was an exciting and very emotional moment. Throughout the years, the Committee has managed to purchase its own bleachers, lights, tents and various equipment and supplies. The Committee provides supper to all dancers, singers and volunteers on Saturday and Sunday.
A lot of help, advice and encouragement has been given to the Pow Wow Committee throughout its lifetime. In 2019, the Grand River “Champion of Champions” Pow Wow celebrates its 40th year.