A father and son were among the winning dancers at the Calgary Stampede powwow held for the first time inside the Saddledome.
Sheldon Scalplock Jr. won the men’s chicken junior category, while his father Sheldon Scalplock Sr. won in the men’s junior chicken senior category.
“Words can’t explain how I feel to share the spotlight with my dad,” Scalplock Jr. said.
“It’s a dream come true.”
The pair are from Siksika Nation, east of Calgary, but Scalplock Jr. now lives in Red Mesa, Arizona.
Scalplock Sr. has been dancing since 1969, and said it was a moment of pride to compete at the powwow, which he felt was back at the “centre stage” of this year’s Calgary Stampede.
“I’m 60 years old and I’m proud to say I can still keep dancing like the 18-year-olds,” Scalplock Sr. said. “I want to congratulate my son, I’m so proud of him.”
The chicken dance originates from the Blackfoot people and mimics the movements of a prairie chicken.
It’s a dance and tradition that Scalplock Sr. said has been passed down through the family for generations.
“I’ve been able to continue the legacy of my father, my brother Alex Scalplock Jr. … my late brother Aaron Scalplock Medicine Shield, he’s not here but I always dance for him, ” Scalplock Sr. said. “My late-daughter passed away two years ago, and I know she’s with me every day when I’m out there.”
The three-day event, which wrapped up Thursday evening, featured drummers and dancers from across North America competing for $175,000 in total prize money.
The competition had several categories, including men’s buckskin, men’s traditional, men’s grass dance and men’s chicken, ladies’ jingle, ladies’ traditional and ladies’ fancy.
The final ten dancers in each category take to the floor where judges then tabulate their scores to select the winners.
Eli Snow, a men’s traditional dancer from Morley, Alta. came out on top of his category on Thursday.
“The men’s traditional dance is the warriors’ dance of our people, and you’re telling stories of when you came back from battle,” Snow told Global News. “It’s the category to dance.”
Snow said the crowds in attendance added to the intensity of the competition.
“The Calgary Stampede has a lot of history, and what makes the Stampede very unique and puts us on that world-class stage is the First Nations here in Treaty 7,” Snow said. “I was more than happy to come and compete.”
Powwows during the Calgary Stampede have historically been held on the grounds at the Elbow River Camp. Organizers said the event accomplished their goals and was a “dream come true.”
“The goals to represent our territory were successful, the goal to represent the people of the camp in a respectful manner was successful, the people who attended were spread far and wide, worldwide — that was a success,” Powwow coordinator Cheryl Crowchief said.
Many of the dancers and drummers at the Stampede Powwow will be competing again next week at other powwows across the province.
Crowchief said there will still be demonstrations of Indigenous traditions and culture at the Elbow River Camp to share with visitors for the rest of the Calgary Stampede.
The camp has been part of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth since its founder, Guy Weadick, asked Treaty 7 First Nations people to participate in the events.
“Come on down, ask questions,” Crowchief said. “We’re there to share, inform and educate.”