Friday, September 30, 2016

Native American Traditions--Powwows by Connie Vines

Today, I thought I'd blog about another Western tradition: Powwows.

Attending your first Powwow?

 The powwow as it is presently known is an inter-tribal event, dating from the 1880s, and while it owes much to pre-contact traditions, it responds to a fundamental binary view of Native populations in conflict with European culture.

 The name is derived from an Algonquian word, pau wau (“he dreams”) linked to “medicine” and “healing,” both in the broadest sense. While similar gatherings certainly occurred before European contact, once Native Americans were consigned to reservations, the need to create broader connections asserted itself.

 In big cities, the event may be held in a civic auditorium or park, but the more traditional venue is a brush arbor.

There is a saying among those of us who are Powwow  regular  attendees, "The Powwow doesn't begin until the dancers arrive." 

Since the dancers often travel long distances, starting time is only an approximate time.  Set-up you folding chairs or spread your blanket on the grass and relax.  Locate Fry bread booth--a must try tasty treat .  (Having operated many a Fry bread booth as a fundraiser, I can attest to the hard work required make pow wow successful)

What to expect:

During the Grand Entry, everyone is asked to stand as the flags are brought into the arena. The flags carried generally include the U.S. Flag, Tribal Flags, the POW Flag, and Eagle Staffs of various Native Nations present. These are usually carried by veterans.

Powwow Etiquette: 10 Rules to Follow in and Out of the Arena

Whether you’re a novice or veteran attending a powwow, certain behaviors are expected while you’re on the grounds or in the arena. Although customs may vary from tribe to tribe—and even from year to year—some basic rules remain the same.

Some breaches of etiquette are simply considered disrespectful while others may result in the offender being removed from the arena. Here are some tips to make sure your behavior is appropriate and your visit is memorable.

Dress modestly.

It is not appropriate to wear hats, swimsuits, extremely short skirts or shorts or halter tops. Do not wear T-shirts or other items of clothing with profanity or inappropriate slogans.

If you plan to participate in dances that are open to the public, keep in mind that some tribes require women to wear a shawl or cover their shoulders.

Always listen to the master of ceremonies or announcer

The MC will tell you when you can photograph and he will tell you when you can dance, Usually, visitors or outsiders can dance during the inter-tribal dance, but you need to listen for an announcement before you participate.

Stand up during the grand entry

Unless you are physically unable to stand, you are expected to show respect for the dancers and rise. The seats nearest the dancing circle are reserved for singers, dancers and drummers (If you’re a spectator, do not sit here.)

Powwow grounds should be considered sacred places

A blessing is performed ahead of time and your actions should show respect for this religious and sacred ceremony.

It’s like going to a church, If you’re going to a powwow, you need to honor where the dances came from, the traditions and story behind them.

The blessing that takes place beforehand sets the tone of the event,  Although the blessing is usually not open to the public, its spiritual nature should be taken seriously.

Do not bring alcohol, drugs or firearms to a powwow

An exception is tobacco used for blessings or as gifts. Smoking is considered disrespectful,

Follow protocol and common sense when it comes to taking photographs

Never shoot photos during prayers, gourd dances or flag songs, or when the Master of Ceremonies has prohibited it. Additional rules apply in specific circumstances. For example, spectators should not take photos of dancers in regalia without first asking permission.

This is especially true for professional photographers standing in the arena, Often dancers are wearing something special or personally spiritual to them. Some dancers don’t like their bead-work photographed because someone can see that and copy the design.

Never shoot photos of a dancer being initiated or receiving a plume or feather. Doing so can disrupt the spiritual process,

Powwows are colorful and high-energy events

Spectators should have fun but also keep in mind that participants are not simply entertainers. Especially during contest powwows, dancers, singers and drummers may be performing for money.

There are individuals who do this as a way of life, They take it seriously because it’s their income.”

Finally, be flexible

The most important rule is to be willing to change your expectations and adapt to new situation

You may be invited to participate in the dancing. Particularly if the invitation comes from an elder, it is not respectful to decline.  

 “Oh, no, I don’t know how” is not an appropriate response. Guaranteed: no one will ever laugh at you, but they might be hurt if you refuse hospitality. It’s easy. Observe others and do likewise. Relax. We will teach you the steps!

Powwow Jingle Dance

Crow Fair 

Fry bread -top with powdered sugar or honey

Excerpt from my YA novel, "Whisper upon the Water"

1880, Apacheria, Season of Ripened Berries

Isolated bands of colored clay on white limestone remained where the sagebrush was stripped from Mother Earth by sudden storms and surface waters.  Desolate.  Bleak. A land made of barren rocks and twisted paths that reached out into the silence.

A world of hunger and hardship. This is my world. I am Tanayia.  I was born thirteen winter ago. My people and I call ourselves "Nde" this means "The People". The white men call us Apache.

Whisper upon the Water --book trailers

Happy Reading!


Please visit everyone participating in today's Sunday Blog Hop:

Connie (yes me!), age 16, loving to dance

No comments:

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Manic Readers

Manic Readers

She Writes

Historical Fiction Books

Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction