“You may have already seen the videos shared online on various YouTube and Facebook pages. A grizzly bear dancer dancing at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Pow Wow. She is possibly one of the only female Grizzly Bear dancers in the world… the dance was absolutely mesmerizing.” T. Brown Powwows.com
Excerpt: St’át’imc Grizzly Bear Dancer Shares Her Story by Toyacoyah Brown, Powwows.com
“I don’t know about you, but I had never seen anything like it in my neck of the woods and was wondering a little bit more about the dance and its origins. I reached out to the dancer in the videos and she was willing to share her story… Below is a little bit more about her journey.
Laura John was born and raised in Lillooet, British Columbia in the Interior Plateau region, she is of St’át’imc descent. Her St’át’imc name is Stálhalamcen – Grizzly Paws… She belongs to the people of Xwisten the Bear Clan. She is a mother of three children (boys). All three boys carry St’ảt’imc names as their first name and were named through ceremonial practice and the Elders of her family. Laura is a dancer, drummer, singer/songwriter, academic, educator and a language and cultural advocate.
The Bear Dance
The cultural expressions of the St’at’imc are a very important aspect of the St’at’imc with songs, dances and the social interactions of the people. The Grizzly Bear dance is an expression of culture that is unique and authentic.
I walked where the Grizzly Bear dances. I feel his pleasure, excitement and freedom on the earth and in the wind that carries his messages from the past. I dance where the Grizzly Bear danced his steps leaving an ancestral footprint on the land like a cellular memory in my blood. His face is a shadow that calls to me as the wind calls his name St’alhalam. The Grizzly Bear he sings his songs as we unite under his skin. I now walk where he left his ancestral footprints. I heard his prayer, I felt his pain, I am his anger, I am his hope, I am his faith.”
NOTE: Laura Grizzlypaws at Gathering of Nations will be coming to the Oregon State University Pow Wow on May 14th in Corvallis Oregon
“I truly believe as Indigenous peoples we should be embracing our traditions, our songs, stories and dances and bringing them to life to instill hope, to have faith and to give thanks for ourselves, while honoring our ancestors and especially to give hope to our younger generations.~ Laura Grizzlypaws~