Pow Wow



A Pan-Indian Celebration

By: Tina Lo

What is a Powwow?

An American Indian inter-tribal gathering, focused on dancing, singing, and family celebration

Native American people's way of meeting together, visiting, renewing old friendships and make new ones.

 A time to renew thought of the old ways and to preserve a rich heritage.


 Powwows today were largely influenced by Indians of the Great Plains in the 1800s

 In the old days, Indians would gather at various times of the year to hunt, plant, gather, and celebrate

 Gather together to renew family, clan, and tribal ties

 Form social and political alliances

 Celebrate victories

 Practice religious and spiritual ceremonies

 Courtship and agreement on marriages

Importance of Powwow in today’s culture:

“The contemporary powwow provides an opportunity for people to celebrate their identification with Indian culture and have become pan-Indian and inter-tribal expressions of pride.”

“Society has inaccurate images of American Indians, thus Powwows help guide non-Indian people toward understanding and appreciation of varied aspects of

Native American culture.”

How is a Powwow organized?

 Held by one band or tribe to welcome and honor other bands or tribes

 Organized by Powwow committee, dedicated members of host tribe

 Usually three day weekend events

 All peoples are invited, Indian and non-Indian

 Event is run by the Master of Ceremonies and Arena directors

How is a Powwow organized (cont’d)

 Master of Ceremonies provides the announcements and background information on the dances, rituals, and spirit of the Powwow

 Arena directors manages the flow of activity in the arena and organizes the dancers and drummers.

 Judges are responsible for judging regalia, dancing, and drumming

Types of Powwows

 Several different types

 2 most common types are:

 Traditional Powwows

 Competition Powwows

Traditional Powwows

 Everyone who participates in dancing or singing is awarded day money

 Informal but has some degree of competition

 Also contains ceremonies such as honorings, giveaways, “first” dances, and adoptions

Competition Powwows

 Has significant prize money for dancers

 Everyone can participate in competition but only the dancers that place at the top of the competition wins the prize money

 Drum groups can also compete for prize money

The Grand Entry

 Powwow begins with the Grand Entry

 Spectators are asked to rise as the flags and eagle staffs of host and guest tribes are brought in the arena

 Eagle staffs and flags represent nations, families, and communities

 Drums begin the Grand Entry song with chief/tribal leader of host tribe and visiting leaders entering the arena, leading a procession

The Grand Entry (cont’d)

 The Procession consists of :

 Honored members and color guard of veterans

 Elected royalty, chosen to represent their community

 Male dancers

 Female dancers

 Teenage boys

 Teenage girls

 Young kids

The Grand Entry (cont’d)

 Procession goes into circles until all the dancers are inside the arena

 Drumming ends when arena is filled with all the dancers dancing in their grand regalia

 Ends with dancers in the center of circle, followed by prayer song and a honoring song for veterans

 Judging of regalia, dancers, drummers begin after

Important Aspects of a Powwow

 Community, Family, and Spirituality

 Veterans

 The Drum

 Songs

 Dances

 Regalia

Powwow Etiquette

 Bring your own seating or you can stand

 Do not sit on benches around arena-reserved for dancers

 Ask permission before taking pictures of dancers

 Donate money to the drum during Blanket Dance

Powwow Etiquette (cont’d)

 Always stand during special songs

 Always listen to the MC (Master of

Ceremonies)-they give you all the information!

 Remember that you are a guest and that you are welcomed

Additional Tips

 Be respectful and friendly

 Go with an open mind

 Do not be afraid to ask questions (The Arena Director or MC are great people to ask!)

 Sobriety is important!

 Most importantly is to have fun and interact!


“We don’t want your rations, we want this dance” By: Clyde Ellis

-shows evolution of this important cultural form

-importance of song and dance in Indian cultural identity

-discusses Indian ethnocide


 http://www.csulb.edu/~aisstudy/powwow/

 http://www.ewebtribe.com/NACulture/powwows.htm

 http://www.tpt.org/powwow/index.html

 http://www.powwows.com/

 http://spirit.dos.uci.edu/aisa/Welcome.htm