(Treaty 6 Territory) – Patrick Mitsuing, a member of the Cree Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nations, will shine a spotlight on Indigenous culture through a series of performances leading up to and during Super Bowl LVI this Sunday. He will be one of several Indigenous dancers and the sole dancer representing Canada during the event’s programming. The National Football League’s (NFL) decision to recognize the Indigenous land on which the games take place on, for the first time in 56 Super Bowls presented Mitsuing with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
As the president of Powwow Times, the production company behind Canada’s largest competitive Powwow, and a member of Indigenous Tourism Alberta, Mitsuing is used to putting on showstopping performances for large audiences, but not at this capacity. “I couldn’t believe it, at the beginning.” explains Mitsuing, “This will be my biggest show ever. The whole venue during Monday’s Super Bowl Opening Night was packed.”
With the first performance behind him, Mitsuing is now focused on putting on a captivating welcome showcase at the State Farm Stadium for an expected turnout of 70,000 fans on Sunday.
The engagement of cultural partnerships with Indigenous communities during major events is becoming a part of a cultural shift and a sign of progress towards reconciliation. The NFL’s efforts going beyond a land acknowledgement and weaving in Indigenous storytelling during official programming shows a commitment to genuine representation. The league featuring Indigenous artwork from a local artist on this year’s tickets design and organizing entertainment performances such the one Mitsuing is taking a part of are all hopeful signs for the future.
These actions not only raise awareness of Indigenous cultures, histories and perspectives but also set an example for other mainstream organizations to build meaningful, long-term relationships with Indigenous communities.
From a societal perspective, it’s a small step in the right direction; however, for Mitsuing personally, it is a moment of great excitement for his Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation community located about 300 kilometers northwest of Saskatoon.
Capturing the attention of the youth and leaving a legacy of empowerment for the younger generation is at the forefront of his mind during this monumental accomplishment. Through his past world champion dancing travels, Mitsuing has had a goal to inspire youth to dream big and celebrate their own unique cultures through art.
“When I was young, my elders told me to take care of my outfit, because it will take care of me.” said Patrick, “They told me it will take me places. I could never fully wrap my mind of what that meant, until now. It took me to amazing opportunities like this. I put my heart and soul into Powwow dancing and it’s been taking care of me and my family for so long, and I just can’t believe that it’s been getting better and better.”