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What is a Pow Wow?Powwows are the Native American people's social gatherings, a place where people join together, in dancing, singing, and visiting. It is a time of renewing old friendships and make new ones. This is a time to renew thoughts of the old ways and to preserve a rich heritage. It is a way to share this rich heritage and culture with outsiders.
Grand Entry- This is the entry of all the people entering the dance arena or the sacred circle. During the Grand Entry, everyone is asked to stand as the flags are brought into the circle.
Following the veterans are other important guests of the Pow Wow- including tribal chiefs, Princesses, elders, and Pow Wow organizers. Next in line are the men dancers. The men are followed by the women dancers. Once everyone is in the arena, the song ends and a song to honor the flag and the veterans is sung. During Grand Entry and the Veterans honor song it is important to native culture that NO PICTURES, VIDEOS, or AUDIO recordings take place.
Dancing- has always been an important aspect in the lives of the Native American culture. The regalia worn by the dancers represent important aspect of the dancer's culture, heritage, and involvement in their culture.
Type of Dances:
Southern Straight Dance - The Southern Straight Dance is the formal Southern dance style, tracing its roots to the original formal war dance.
Fancy Dance - The Fancy Dance is the style of dance that contains the most color and movement. It was created on the reservations to attract visitors.
Traditional Dance - The Traditional Dance is one of the most common styles seen at powwows and is considered the warrior's dance style.
Grass Dance - A popular dance that is full of color and movement, the grass dance originated from the original Omaha Grass Dance.
Gourd Dancing - This dance is not a true powwow dance style but a separate type of dance before the Grand Entry. During the Gourd Dancing only the Gourd Dancers, their relatives, and relatives of Veterans should be in the Pow Wow arena.
Women's Dance Styles
Traditional Buckskin - The Buckskin style of dance is very graceful and has some of the most elegant bead and craftwork of any style.
Southern Cloth - The Southern Cloth style of dance is much like Southern Buckskin, but the beautiful outfits are made with fine cloths and ribbon work.
Jingle Dress Dance - The Jingle Dance is a very interesting and unique dance that was delivered through a vision many years ago, and has become popular all across the continent.
Fancy Shawl Dance- The Fancy Shawl Dance is the most exciting of the ladies' dance styles to watch, due to its many intricate movements and steps.
Singers are one of the vital figures in the Native American culture. Without them there would be no dancing.
Drummers are the heartbeat of the Pow Wow. Without a drum a powwow cannot exist in most cases.
The Master of Ceremonies or MC
This is the person who is in charge of running the Pow Wow. The MC runs the events, controlling the tempo and offering smooth transitions between dances, drumming, storytelling, and the other entertainers.
Pow Wow Etiquette
- Be on time. The Committee is doing everything possible to ensure that activities begin and run smoothly. Please cooperate in this regard.
- Appropriate dress and behavior is suggested in the Arena.
- Listen to the Master of Ceremonies. He will announce who is to dance, and when.
- Respect the position of the Head Man and Head Woman Dancers. Their role
- entitles them to start each song or set of songs. Please wait until they have started to dance before you join in.
- Dance as long and as hard as you can. When not dancing, be quiet and respect the Arena
- Be aware that someone standing behind you may not be able to see over you. Make room, step aside, sit, or kneel if someone is behind you.
- Show respect to the flag and honor songs by standing during "Special" songs, stand in place until the sponsors of the song have danced a complete circle and have come around you, then join in. If you are not dancing, continue to stand quietly until the song is completed.
- While dancing at any Pow Wow, honor the protocol of the sponsoring group.
- Some songs require that you dance only if you are familiar with the routine or are eligible to participate. Trot dances, snake, buffalo, etc. require particular steps or routines. If you are not familiar with these dances, observe and learn. Watch the Head Dancers to learn the procedures. Only Veterans are permitted to dance some Veteran's songs, unless otherwise stated; listen to the MC for instructions.
- Giveaways, attributes of Indian generosity, are held at many dances. They are acknowledgments of appreciation to recipients for honor given. When receiving a gift, the recipient thanks everyone involved in the giving. NOTE: All specials and giveaways must be coordinated with the Master of Ceremonies. Please remember that is traditional to make a monetary contribution to the Drum for this request--clear this through the MC.
- The Drums are sometimes closed, check with the Head Singer for permission to sing.
- If at any time you are uncertain of procedure or etiquette, please check with the MC, Arena Director, or Head Singer. They will be glad to help you with your questions.
- Take a chair. Most Pow Wows normally will not have seating for the public, or enough seating for everyone.
- No Alcohol or drugs are allowed at Pow Wows. Under No Circumstances Is Alcohol Or Drugs Allowed On Pow Wow Grounds.
- If taking pictures, asked the dancer first. Remember common courtesy and ask permission. Group photographs are usually all right to take, but you might want to ask the committee first.
- A dancer's clothing is Regalia - not a costume - and is a prized possession. Some regalia have been handed down through the generations, and is priceless. When a dancer decides to appear in a particular style, the regalia reflect the spirit and customs of the people being honored. The regalia is handmade, usually by the dancer, friends and family, and every article has special meaning. It takes years to collect the items until the regalia is complete, and this involves no small expense. Do Not Ever Touch A Dancer's Regalia without permission. The regalia is an expression of spirit, and has been prayed over and blessed. Honor it, the person wearing it, and the living history it represents.
- Do not turn down an invitation by others, especially elders.
- Always ask for permission before from the area director before making recordings of any type (Video or Audio).