Pow Wow at WU advice
adapted from Julia C. White, The Pow Wow Trail, 1996.
Pow Wow is European adaptation of Algonquin word
- Pau Wau that meant medicine
men and spiritual leaders
- Term expanded to mean entire gathering of tribes
Spring- celebrate after long winter
Autumn- necessary to trade food staples
Dancing is an expression of thought, soul and spirit.
A woman dancer said it connected her to her mother, and grandmother and to the
beginning of time.
- Do not take closeup pictures without asking. Pictures from the balcony is fine.
- No alcohol, drugs or smoking - obviously
- The "dance arena" at WU is basically the actual basketball area. The shaman will bless it with sage and prayer it is spiritual
ground. Do not walk across the "dance arena" even if there is not a dance.
- Around the "dance arena" are seating areas for elders, dancers and singers.
Do not sit in the folding chairs for elders and dancers.
- Dancer's clothing is called Regalia. Never touch a dancer's
regalia without permission.
- Food is available at the WU pow wow. Bring at least $10 for food.
- There are Native American merchants selling in the area around the arena. Do not handle an object unless you are really honest about buying it.
Types of Events
Arts and craft show with exhibition dancers
Small local one day events.
Inter tribal competition
Begun in the early 1900.
Until that time dances were performed
only be elite warrior societies for tribes and elders,
Who will be there?
Announcer is master of ceremonies. Jokes.
Area Director oversees activities. Guards and protects any eagle feather
that may be dropped until it can be retrieved in traditional manner. When
feather falls all dancing stops until it retrieved by special person.
In some cases it is taken to the grave if a veteran or respected elder
or returned to dancer.
Sees to care of elders. Small braided whip. Can point at you and make
Pow Wow Singers / the Drum
Drumming teams are called singers.
New songs -
poke fun at society. Smoke Signals John Wayne teeth.
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and Goofy too
They all live in Disney land and work there too.
Drums made of various skins. Usually deer
Some groups call it the horse because if carried the spirit into other
realms and other times, Ride the horse means to free your mind and allow
your body to feel the power and pulsation's of the drum.
Large- room for 12 singers to sit around. Suspended from wooden frame
to keep slightly off ground.
Northern - High pitched played fast
Southern - Deep and slow
Types of Dances:
Official beginning. Dancers enter from East. Eagle staff- symbol of all
Native Nations, American Flag, Canadian Flag, POW-MIA flag and the tribal
flag for the pow wow host.
Head dancers in each division and titleholders from other dances. They
are chosen by pow wow committee because of expertise and standing in dance
competition. Held as an example for other dancers and take part in judging.
Procession winds around arena in direction of the sun
(clockwise) dancers show off regalia and footwork. Once all dancers in
Arena Flag Song followed by invocation and blessing
Flags are moved to center of arena. Eagle staff is always higher.
Men competition dancers: traditional, grass, and fancy.
Women: traditional, fancy shawl and jingle dress.
Golden Age 50 and up.
Junior boys and girls 12 -17 in same order and
Tiny tot girls and boys.
Children 6- 11
Tiny Tots 5 and under.
Specialty and exhibition dancers (do not compete for prize
Veterans Dance / Gourd Dance
Wear regalia of tribe and memorabilia of battle campaigns
Carry rattles, keep beat.
May wear battle fatigues
Respectful way of honoring their contribution to safety of this country.
Women dance outside to honor their relatives, both living and dead who
served in the wars. Not customarily photographed.
Evolved when pow wows first opened to public and competition dancing began.
"War dance"Dancers asked to make regalia more colorful and exciting
for white spectators.
Double bustle of feathers. One bustle hung from straps at waist. Other
mounted on blocks of wood and suspended between shoulder blades. Anklets
of angora fur with sheep bells attached, a ribbon shirt, beaded yoke,
a belt and silver or copper arm bands and cuffs.
Head band and a roach of porcupine quills that carry a spinner with one
of two feathers.
Original free form dance to show athletic ability, acrobatics and endurance
of dancer. Leaps, spins, and fast foot work all in time to drum.
Woman's dance began in 1930
Butterfly lost mate in battle. Grief stricken went into cocoon (shawl).
Vowed to travel the world stepping on each stone until she came across
one she found beauty in then she could start her life over.
Women gave up buffalo robes and heavy blankets to wears shawls from European
traders, Show off new clothes.
Dresses taffeta or satin knee length, feet beaded moccasins and matching
leggings, beadwork worn in hair and on yokes placed over dresses.
Steps are original fast and athletic focus on spins and twirls of the
shawls. An expert dancer never appears to touch the ground. Move in rhythm
with drum stopping and staring when it does. End her dance on last drumbeat
with both feet on ground and arms at side.
Ancient. Dancers were warriors and wore scalps of enemies at waist. Ancient
war dance. Now use grass and then yarn replaced scalps. First social dance
when pow wow open to public.
Members tamping down tall grass before village or campsite could be set
Most beautiful and graceful of men's danceDance
Long fluid body movements emulate waving prairie grass.
Original Free form dance
Mark of an expert is his ability to keep his head nodding from side to
side or up and down in time to the drum to keep feather on his roach constantly
Ornate yoke slips over head and rests on shoulders hands flowing yarn.
Belt, beaded moccasins, beaded wrist cuffs anm bandana around head with
porcupine roach. In roach is spinner with two feathers (symbolizes two
braves returning to village telling stories of adventures)\yarn hands
from shoulder, chest, wrist, and waist.
Seems to float in waves of yarn with no joints in body.
Ojibwa holy man dream. Shown how to make the dresses and given songs for
dance and shown how dance was preformed by four young women dancers in
Woke and told wife, made dresses. Called the 4 women who had danced in
his dream and explained the dress and dance to them.
Spread across Ojibwa Nation Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In 1920
Ojibwa shared jingle dance and its history with Sioux Nation and popularity
spread across Dakotas and Montana. Now performed by women of all Nations.Regalia
Dress is knee length and is covered with thousands of jingles- cones made
from the metal lids of snuff cans, Cones attached to dress or rows of
ribbons arrange in intricate patterns.
Dancers wear beaded or silver concho belts, beaded moccasins and matching
leggings, a scarf at the neck, a bag or pouch over the arm and a fan made
of feathers. A feather in the hair, held in place by heavily beaded decoration.
Dance is fast and follows the traditional footwork of the holy man's dream.
Irish jig in complexity and execution.
Keep rhythm of drums and jingles stopping on last drum beat with both
feet on ground.
Warriors as prepare for battle and as they return they
dance the stories of their adventures.
Face paint and body paint highly personal statement
Headgear animal pelts to full cap of magpie feathers
Footwork is ancient tradition.
Body movement must be athletic.
Must be authentic for tribe and region.
(Northern and southern is styles not geography)
Breech cloth, breast plate made of bone, choker made of bone, anklets
made of angora fur with sheep bells above them, belt, wide wrist cuffs,
arm bands of copper or silver, moccasins and decorations on head or in
War shield, dance staff, a feather fan, a war weapon and sometimes a dram
catcher or medicine wheel.
Regalia depends on tribe- leggings, ribbon shirt, a single bustle of feathers
suspended from waist.
Dance is more physically active than southern straight but not as fast
or arobatic as Fancy
Regalia is similar to northern
Breech cloth with leggings, long sleeved ribbon shirt with bone breast
plate, bone choker, a bandoleer, a belt, arm bands of copper or silver,
woven garter at knees sometimes with bells. Usually a porcupine roach
headdress supporting a single feather.
Most distinctive is the Drag
Very long trailer goes down dancers back to ground, made of otter fur
and called a drag. Decorated with beadwork and other items that have significance
Dance is tightly controlled and elegant. Slow moving footwork and regal
Women's Traditional Dances
Very old women danced in circle at outer edge of dance
arena so they could keep watch over safety of village while men dancing.
Buckskin and cloth and two dance steps
One spot with woman's' body doing all of they work. Her feet shift in
place without actually moving much.
Dancer moves around the arena clockwise in slow tightly controlled majestic
Heavily beaded in elaborate patterns on yoke and can be knee or ankle
length. Two pieces and have yards of flowing fringe from arms and hem.
Fringe is said to represent the continuous flow of the waterfall with
life giving water and energy symbolizing the perseverance of the Native
Mother. The fringe should be kept in constant motion by movements of the
Dancers hair heavily decorated. Hair wraps of fur or beaded hair ties.
Fine jewelry ears and around neck.
Beaded moccasins with matching leggings, a beaded bag or pouch over arm,
a beaded of silver belt which sometimes has a sheathed knife, a heavily
fringed shawl over one arm and a feather fan.
Trade cloth decorated elk teeth, coins, cowry shells and dentalium shells.
Ribbon work, fine beading, and floral designs.
Elaborate floral work beading or porcupine quills Great Lakes and Canada.
Beadwork is reflection of contact with French Traders who introduced floral
design to Tribes. Since they could not embroider, did bead work.
Carried in as baby to dance arena
Training starts early. Dressed in miniature of adult.
Dances you can Join in
Meet new friends and feel the heart beat of the drum. Women should sear
a shawl or scarf or even sweater across shoulders a s a sign of respect.
Relax, let feet do own thing, enjoy fellow ship.Blanket Dance
Throw money in Blanket to help pay singers!
Social Dance or Two step is done by couples
Won't see sacred dances.