A man from the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in Saskatchewan is taking his talents to one of the biggest stages in the world.
Patrick Mitsuing will help to shine a spotlight on Indigenous culture as he performs at Super Bowl LVII on Sunday.
After growing up on the small First Nation, located northwest of Saskatoon, Mitsuing said the opportunity in front of him is worth savouring.
“It’s a story I could tell my kids, and if I’m lucky my grandchildren as well,” Mitsuing said, speaking with CBC News from Glendale, Ariz.
“I know a lot of my community and people back home are super proud and so I feel very honoured to represent everyone.”
Mitsuing has been performing the fancy dance, an Indigenous cultural dance, throughout the festivities leading up to the Super Bowl in Glendale this week.
On Friday he’ll step onto the stage at the big game and perform while fans enter the stadium, then again with the winning team at the end of the game.
With more than 70,000 in attendance, Mitsuing said it will be his biggest performance ever.
“I hope to inspire a lot of the younger generation to keep thriving and keep learning their culture, and knowing that who we are could take us to these awesome places like the Super Bowl,” he said.
Mitsuing, who owns the dance company Powwow Times, said he grew up in a powwow family. As a youth he took part in traditional Indigenous practices including round dances, sweat lodges and sun dances, but it was the fancy dance that really caught his attention.
“My 13th birthday, my late-dad gifted me with a power outfit — a fancy dance outfit — and that was the beginning of my story as a fancy dancer,” he said.
Fancy dancers are the only ones who wear double bustles, or feathered regalia, and they’re located on the upper and lower halves of their body, Mitsuing said.
The dance itself is fast paced, which makes it a crowd-pleaser, he said.
“It’s mixed with a lot of modern dance moves like tap dancing, break dancing, hip hop, all within a cultural step, and it’s very fast-paced dance, a lot of intricate movements, colourful regalia.”
Donald Speidal, who works as the senior lead on Indigenous engagement for Saskatoon Public Schools, is celebrating Mitsuing’s chance to perform at the Super Bowl.
Mitsuing is a former student of Saskatoon Public Schools. Speidal said he is happy to have been able to see Mistuing evolve and develop into the man he is today.
“He’s young, talented and phenomenal individual,” Speidal said.
When Mitsuing enters State Farm Stadium on Sunday, he will be only one part of a programme that acknowledges Indigenous people. For the first time in 56 Super Bowls, the NFL will recognize the Indigenous land that the games takes place on.
Speidal says it is an important step in the right direction.
“We have been here for eons, and we continue to thrive and survive,” he said.
Mitsuing credits the work Canada is doing on truth and reconciliation as the driving force behind his appearance at the Super Bowl.
He pointed to land acknowledgements at Toronto Raptors or Edmonton Oilers games as helping fuel a trend to openly acknowledging the role of Indigenous people in North America.
“When I was growing up, it was really hard to find role models that that look like me,” he said.
Mistuing said he hopes to help contribute to changing that with his performance on Sunday.