Late Tyrone Tootoosis honoured at this year’s FSIN powwow
- Andrea Ledding | November 06, 2018
The late Tyrone Tootoosis was honoured at the 2018 Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Celebration Pow-wow on October 27th, Saturday afternoon with a men’s fancy dance spotlight special. The family selected the top ten dancers of the men 18 and over in this category during the first few songs, and then the FSIN Executive chose the finalists — the top five — out of the next songs. First place, Tyler Yazzie, received $2000 and a championship horse; second place and James Jones received $1500. Contestants in 3rd, 4th, and 5th each received $500.
“It was so comforting and healing to experience the love and honour shown to him from his peers,” said Tyrone’s widow, Winona Wheeler. “Men’s fancy dance is powerful. He was an amazing dancer and loved it deeply.”
Wheeler extended thanks to “the FSIN Executive, the powwow committee, all the volunteers, Elders, MCs and helpers, singers, dancers and everyone in attendance who made it so beautiful. Hiy hiy.”
Wheeler, his ten children and numerous grandchildren, as well as other Tootoosis relatives, entered together to an honour song, before the event was held. The pow-wow MC noted Tyrone’s many contributions to not only the pow-wows over the years including the sets which he single-handedly created year after year, and his own championship category which was being honoured, men’s fancy dancing, but to the community at large, and to many individuals.
“There are thousands who miss the late Tyrone,” he told the family. “At the same time, I hope the family finds it help with the healing as well, because I know the late Tyrone was a champion fancy-dancer as well, and all these fancy-dancers have come forward from near and far, that they dance with a good heart and mind, and dance with good energy for the family.”
Before the spotlight competition began, FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron shared a few words.
“We still miss him a lot. The late Tyrone had the uncanny ability to bring people together. He had that gift, if you had some kind of opinion and you were strong on it, then he went to the other side and if there was a total opposite side of a different opinion, he had this gift of bringing them together,” said Cameron. “That was his unique ability, to bring unity to First Nations people. And if you notice in the back we don’t have the themes anymore — because the late Tyrone was 100% responsible for building those themes in the back.”
Themes included treaty, women, and so on.
“I had the honour of visiting him just days before he passed. I want to say to the family, to the children, who I know like all the Elders are missing him — there are thousands of us still missing him to this day. Even his horses miss him!” said Cameron. “We still miss him. But we’re very happy and honoured that his family allowed us to use his picture [on the poster, and on the jackets] of the late Tyrone Tootoosis, because he was a big part of this pow-wow. The success of this pow-wow depended upon the late Tyrone’s work.” Cameron also mentioned the love Tyrone held for his family.
“When you walked into his house, you knew you were walking into a house with ceremony, a man who held ceremony deep in his heart. Who held prayer and smudging every day of his life. You were walking into a house where it was a museum; you were walking into a house where his house was treaty. Because he was one of those guys that would always say “we’ve got to educate about treaty!” Because they had to understand treaty to respect First Nations people,” said Cameron. “And he always was a protector of our lands and our waters, and our resources.”
He added that the FSIN Executive will never bow down to industry, thanks to Tyrone’s teachings which helped them along the way, while getting along with everyone and speaking straight from the heart. He added that he hoped the dance brought healing to everyone.
“We miss this great man. Only once in a lifetime will a guy like Tyrone Tootoosis enter our lives...we continue to pray for the family.”