(The photo is of Grass Dancers)
Jerry (AKA Biskit @ www.biskitscloset.com) had mentioned that he was going to see Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels and a pow-wow this weekend.) For those of you not familiar with a pow-wow, here is a definition;
A pow-wow (sometimes powwow or pow wow or pau wau) is a gathering of Native Americans. It derives from the Narragansett word powwaw, meaning shaman. It has since come to be used to describe any gathering of Native Americans of any tribe, and as such is occasionally heard in older Western movies. The word has also been used to refer to any meeting, but especially a congress, a friendly gathering, or a meeting of powerful people such as officers in the military.
An early twenty-first century pow-wow is a specific type of event held by Native Americans. Typically, a pow-wow consists of people (Native American and non-Native American alike) meeting in one particular area to dance, sing, socialize, and generally have a good time. Pow-wows can vary in length from a single session of about 5-6 hours to three days with one to three sessions a day. Major pow-wows or pow-wows called for a special occasion can be up to one week long.
Dan and I attended our first pow-wow kind of by accident in 1987. We had purchased tickets to the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada. This particular vacation we went through Glacier National Park, Banff, much of Britsh Columbia and back into Washington, Orgeon, etc. We “hit” the national parks along the way.
Anway, we weren’t even aware there was a pow-wow at the Stampede Park until we happened upon it while walking around. We were both immediately hooked. We watched Jingle Dancers, the Sneak Up dances and many, many others. Their was a young man (we were told he was about 22) who was a hoop dancer. The things this young man could do with those hoops was absolutely spell binding. The regalia (what some would refer to as costumes, but it is NOT costumes…it is their native attire), the respect and reverance, the drummers and singers…it was like being transported back in time. It gave me shivers to watch it. I had always been interested in Native American history and the terrible things that happened to their culture and way of life. The respect that the Native Americans have for Mother Earth and each other, we could all learn from this. There was on OLD (and I mean OLD) Native American woman that I wanted so badly to hug her and tell her I was sorry for everything that had ever happened to the Native American. Watching them dance, listening to the drummers and singers, it was such an experience.
After that, Dan and I attended every pow-wow that we were able to get to (this is when we still lived in southern Lower Michigan). Occasionally, we would be asked to join in the dancing which for me felt like an honor. We particularly like to watch the Grass dancers and the Sneak Up song dancers which are not dances that you are invited to participate in. The Native American Woman have the Fancy Shawl Dance and Jingle Dance (which again, you are not invited to participate in). The variety of colors and regalia is staggering.
We were fotunate to witness a name giving ceremony a couple of times.
At a pow-wow, the Native Americans always pay homage to American Vets.
Of course, at pow-wows there are Native American food booths (try the fry bread), Native American arts and crafts.
When Dan and I (and our dogs) went out west two springs ago, one of our goals was to attend the largest Gathering in New Mexico. We timed our trip so we could attend. We were not able to attend due to weather conditions…it was TOO HOT to leave our dogs in the vehicle for any length of time. We hope to go west again when we are dogless so we can attend this Gathering.
There are pow-wows in the U.P. but they are always at a time when we (Clementz’s Northcountry Campground & Cabins) are open for business so we are not able to attend. The best I can do is watch my video’s or listen to the various CDs that I have of drummers and singers.
I hope if you ever have the opportunity to attend a pow-wow that you will.
And there is pow-wow etiquette which you should be aware of prior to attending;
WHAT NOT TO DO AT A POW-WOW
It's always good to see people from many different backgrounds attending powwows, and learning more about Native cultures and ways, but sometimes not everyone acts as they should. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
Blessed before dancing, the arena is considered a sacred ground and should be treated with respect. Profanity and unruly behavior should not be used. Never cut across it to get to the opposite side. Treat the arena as you would treat a church. Go in the "door" and out the same way. The MC will specify who is to dance and when, and when spectators may participate.
Photos of individual dancers should only be taken with their permission and no commercial photography without first checking with the MC and powwow staff. Tape recording of the drums should be done only after asking the drum group. Video recording should be only for personal use, unless by previous arrangement with the staff. Absolutely NO recording of any kind on Honor Songs, Gourd Dancing, prayers, or at any other time the MC specifies.
Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs:
Powwows have strict rules against alcohol and drug use in the entire area of the powwow, and most prohibit smoking near the arena.
Arts and Crafts:
At any given powwow, you will find a wide array of Indian arts, handmade crafts, and jewelry for sale. Often this is how these vendors make a living, and sell quality goods at a reasonable price. Most will not accept checks, so it is a good idea to have cash on hand. Please use care when handling merchandise, and please watch your children!
Dancers wear traditional regalia, not costumes, when they dance. Every part of a dancer's regalia is very important to him or her for various reasons. Many hours go into the intricate beadwork and detailing, and full set of regalia may take years to complete. The feathers or leather may be over 100 years old and very fragile. Please never handle any part of a dancer's outfit.
- Cathy Clementz
- A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!