The annual smoke dance competition presented by Plank Road One Stop will get underway July 27. In its second year now, organizers have recently named it, with permission from the family, the Lyle Anderson Sr. Memorial Smoke Dance Competition. Anderson passed away suddenly on October 24, 2012 and was a renowned smoke dance competitor and singer.
Anderson, who was 35 years old, was well known throughout Haudenosaunee communities not only as an avid Smoke Dancer but he played a pivotal role in helping keep ceremonies and songs alive. He trained under Elder, Art Johnson from Six Nations for many years. “Lyle was my dad’s right hand man,” stated Reese Hill, daughter of Johnson.
The smoke dance competition was traditionally held at the Grand River pow wow but in the belief that whenever the dance was held, the event would get rained out, it was taken out of the pow wow lineup. Since Smoke Dance competitions are huge on the territory, the owner of a local business decided to host the event. Derek Sandy who is one of the organizers for the event told the Two Row Times, “Lyle was a very good friend of mine and we all decided to name the Smoke Dance competition in honor of him. He was a really great smoke dancer and singer.”
The smoke dance has its roots in Haudenosaunee culture. The origins vary. The most widely talked about version is that long ago, open fire pits in longhouses would create thick smoke and the young men would have to dance fast enough to create enough air movement to push the smoke upward to be released through ventilation holes in the ceiling.
Last years’ competition was held to coincide with pow wow weekend and drew a crowd of around 200 people with many competitors dressed in full Haudenosaunee regalia. And although it did rain at the event, attendees simply sat in their vehicles and waited for the rain to cease. After the rain stopped, a huge rainbow with a wide array of bright colors appeared over the sky as if to say, ‘let the games begin.’
This year the Lyle Anderson Memorial Smoke Dance competition, presented by Plank Road One Stop, on Old Plank Road (off of Highway #6) just outside of Caledonia will be on Sunday July 27. Dancer registration begins at 5pm and competition starts at 7pm. Age Categories & Prizes have been announced and are as follows:
Golden Age (50+) $400, $300, $200, $100
Adults (18-49) $400, $300, $200, $100
Teens (13-17) $200, $150, $100, $75
Kids (6-12) $150, $100, $75, $50
Tiny Tots (0-5)
For more information contact Derek Sandy at 226-388-0221 or Cam Hill at 519-754-6181.