Pawakan (spirit-helpers) are beings or entities present (in other realities) who are interacting with you here to facilitate with you in some way. (In this instance, and as artistically represented, this interaction is via the energy forms of these masks.) The spirit-helper is a term for any beings that are presently working with you as spiritual teachers. (They help you learn something), as guardians (for protection) and/or spirit-helpers/beings who help you stay on a predetermined path. Historically, it was a tradition of the Plains Cree people (and most plains cultures) to go off into the wild on a “Vision Quest”, usually at puberty, whereas seclusion, fasting and often crying or chanting was part of the ritual in for their quest for a “pawakan” which would become their guide throughout the rest of the lives.
As stated, it was believed that for the most part, spirit-helpers work with humans to help through the complexities of human experience, in supportive, guidance or protective roles, but first one had to decide to move beyond ordinary limits and all current experiences to transform themselves, and their soul to the deepest levels possible, then must be prepared to ask openly and unconditionally if a pawakan/spirit-helpers can help in (each) particular situation, (as in part of the ritual in a vision quest.) For the most part, one can trust pawakan/spirit-helpers under certain circumstances, but cannot rely on pawakan/spirit-helpers in all circumstances.
(There is a huge range of forms that can be classed as spirit-helpers. Sometimes a ‘being’ will choose a form or at least be seen as a form [i.e.- mask] that is acceptable to the person they are working with in terms of their current belief systems and culture.)