My ancient dance

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By Eyeopener staff

Lee Harper steps out of the dance to enjoy a moment in the September sunshine. As head dancer at Saturday’s third annual Ryerson powwow, the 27-year-old Plains Cree native leaps into motion every time the drum circle starts a rhythm. There’s little rest, almost no time to enjoy the gathering’s side attractions—crafts, food, native art—but he doesn’t complain. The powwow in Ryerson’s lush Quad is similar to the rituals of his ancestors. Only the details have changed: Harper wears colourful ribbons his forebears couldn’t afford, and he jingles shiny metal bells along with the traditional rattles made of deer hooves. It’s important to continue the dance, he says. He’s already teaching his daughter, Pauline, who is 17 months old. “I try to let her know it’s there for her.”

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