Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Patrick Mitsuing, a member of Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in Saskatchewan, played a key role at yesterday’s Super Bowl, the National Football League’s championship final.
No, Mitsuing did not suit up for either of the competing teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles. Instead, Mitsuing was the only Indigenous performer from Canada dancing outside the Super Bowl venue, State Farm Stadium, welcoming the 70,000 fans who attended the match, held Feb. 12 in the Arizona city of Glendale.
Mitsuing, who is a world champion powwow dancer, performed in three half-hour shows prior to the game, in which the Kansas City team rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to register a 38-35 victory in the contest.
Mitsuing, who is 38, was provided with a ticket to watch the NFL’s showcase match from a seat that was close to the field.
“Before the game I went online and I saw the seat that I was sitting in was going for like $8,000 (US),” Mitsuing told Windspeaker.com in a Monday morning phone interview. “I just got to experience all that for free.”
Mitsuing was asked about six weeks ago if he would be interested in the Super Bowl gig. NFL reps contacted Indigenous Enterprise, a dance troupe of powwow dancers, to recommend some performers.
Mitsuing was thrilled he was asked to be part of Sunday’s performances.
“The whole experience was super insane, something I never could have imagined,” he said.
Mitsuing is known for the high-energy men’s fancy dance.
Mitsuing performed the shows with two Native American dancers from the United States.
Though he thoroughly enjoyed the experience, Mitsuing said he did not become a football convert, never having been a football fan in the past.
“I’ll go back to Canada and I’ll never watch football again,” he said. “But it was just so cool to be a part of this.”
Mitsuing was pleased NFL officials chose to include Indigenous dancers in Sunday’s pre-game celebrations.
“It is such a big, big organization,” he said of the league. “Their voice reaches a lot of people throughout the world. Seeing what they’re doing to recognize Indigenous people is a really, really big deal.”
Prior to performances on Sunday, Mitsuing said one of the highlights of his career was dancing at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in 2019.
Mitsuing has also performed numerous times at the Gathering of Nations, the largest powwow in North America, which is held each April in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Though he had limited knowledge of the two Super Bowl teams in the championship, Mitsuing said he opted to cheer for the Chiefs during the game.
The Kansas City club, which trailed 24-14 at halftime, managed to pull out the victory. Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker scored the game-winning field goal from 27 yards out with a mere eight seconds remaining in the match.
Mitsuing said he was aware of another group of Native people protesting outside of the facility on Sunday.
Native American advocates were hoping to draw attention to the fact they want the Kansas City franchise to change its moniker of Chiefs. The protesters also want the squad to change their logo and put a stop to the war chant and tomahawk chop gestures regularly performed by the team’s fans.
“I totally support what they’re fighting for,” Mitsuing said of the protesters’ purpose.
“In my honest opinion, I think every organization that has an Indigenous mascot should change their name.”
Mitsuing, who now lives in the Alberta town of Sylvan Lake, was expected to return to his home on Monday.
To watch, we found a video on Powwow Times. If you go to time 9:10 on the vid you'll see he is introduced. He's on the grass and has lots of purple in his regalia.
Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.