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K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

Powwow Dancing with Family

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Author/Publisher/Website: Smith, P.
Copyright: 2018
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: May/2019
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9781771743310
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: K-12
(View recommended grades and subjects)

Resource Description

This engaging Canadian picture book shares the perspectives of the author and his two eldest sons—who participate in modern powwow dancing—on the powwow and its role as a celebration and tradition in Indigenous culture. Lavishly illustrated with photographs, vivid sketches, and ledger art, it provides a detailed description of each stage of the powwow, historical and contemporary aspects of the powwow, and pays homage to Indigenous culture and customs. This informative resource will support studies of Indigenous culture, history, traditions, community, art, and family lifestyle. Additional educational pages provide further information on powwows, traditional regalia, and dances.


Does the resource support BC curriculum?
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Creative Thinking
Critical thinking
Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
Personal Awareness and Responsibility
Social Responsibility
The celebration of Canadian diverse Indigenous cultures through traditional dance, song, drumming, and dress (regalia) fits well with the K-3 Social Studies Big Ideas and Learning Standards. Powwow dance could be explored as rhythmic activities in primary PHE. In Gr 1-3 the ELA Curricular Competency about showing awareness of how story in First Peoples cultures connects people to family and community is strongly reflected. The ledger art used throughout the book fits well with the primary Visual Arts curriculum. While the book is intended for primary audiences, the content and art form could be used as an example in upper grades.


Should this product be identified as Canadian?
Is the resource engaging?
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Is the resource an Authentic First Peoples Text?
This resource supports the characteristics of Aboriginal worldviews and perspectives:
Connectedness and Relationship
Awareness of History
Local Focus
Engagement with the Land, Nature, the Outdoors
Emphasis on Identity
Processes and Protocols
Traditional Teaching
Language and Culture
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Is the content of particular interest to male students?
Is the content of particular interest to female students?
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
While various traditional and contemporary Powwows include men, women, and children in the dancing and drumming, the particular Powwow dancing featured in the book is the Prairie Chicken Dance that features only male dancers and drummers. As such, female readers may have less interest than males in this resource. The main idea of the story is the sense of community of Powwow dancing. The text is appropriately detailed and simple for younger readers with accompanying photographs and colourful, hand-drawn images that showcase each step of the Powwow experience for the young male participants. The book is informative, unique, and interesting and will support studies of Indigenous culture.


Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Is the location of illustrations appropriate?
Is the resource easy to use?
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
The book is visually appealing and inviting, showcasing vividly coloured sketches and photographs on a backdrop of traditional and unique ledger art. The cover includes four characters engaged in a Powwow celebration. The ledger art is pronounced and offset with metallic red lettering and sashes of the traditional dress. The book includes an introduction by the author, an overview of the Powwow written by two of the author's children, and extra educational information. The back of the book includes an author biography and information about ledger art. The font is large and bold, supported by illustrations throughout. While illustrations are rich in detail, the faces lack emotion.


Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
To what degree is this text stylistically rich?
Plot description:
The non-fiction story opens with a short introductory biography of Perry, his family, and his powwow dancing and teachings. The text is written from the shared perspectives of the author and his two eldest sons. The boys recount their love for powwows and describe in detail all aspects of the traditional dance. Through the text, we learn that the Smiths are a modern Indigenous family that takes part in traditional Indigenous dance, dress, culture, and celebration with family as well as a broader community of other powwow dancers. Three educational pages follow that include an overview of powwows, traditional regalia, and dances.
Related Comments:
Through a modern lens, the book shares a story of the powwow as both a celebration and tradition, thus reflecting contemporary and historical genres. The text is rich in detail yet appropriately written for a younger audience. The illustrations are colourful, detailed, and vibrant, showing both physical movement and the described stages of the powwow. A few family photographs add the author's personal connection to the story. The use of ledger art adds unexpected historical significance to the book and pays homage to Indigenous culture and customs.
Literary Highlights:
Well-developed themes
Literary non-fiction
picture book
Visual Highlights:
Literary non-fiction
picture book


At intended grade level(s)
This is the first published book by this author/illustrator. He is also a Director of Instruction - Curriculum in BC who continues to travel nationwide to share powwow dancing.


Powwow Dancing with Family is a solid resource for building lessons around diverse Indigenous culture, history, traditions, community, and family lifestyle. Classes could use the book as an introduction or supplement to study about the Powwow. Students could learn how to dance the style in PHE class and a traditional dancer could be invited to the school or students could take a field trip to an educational site. The book serves as a rich resource for learning about the art form of ledger art with examples throughout the book. Students could create their own art projects that depict traditional Indigenous or personal family stories using ledger paper acquired from families or local vendors.