Native American Powwow

A Native American Powwow is a time for a tribe to sing, dance, socialize, and honor their culture. A powwow's length can last anywhere from a few hours on one day up to an entire week. Major powwows often take up to a year to be properly organized by a committee. Most powwows have an arena director, who is in charge, and a master of ceremonies, who is the host.

The Native American powwow area is traditionally set up in circles which include the center arena, with larger circles outside of that for the master of ceremonies, the drum group, and an area for those attending the powwow. There is also usually an area reserved for vendors who sell food and souvenirs such as art, beadwork, and jewelry.

The Native American powwow kicks off with the grand entry, which features U.S. and tribal flags. Veterans usually carry the flags and they are followed by tribal chiefs, Princesses, elders, organizers, dancers, and drummers. A sacred event, many tribes, as part of powwow etiquette, will not allow the grand entry to be photographed. After everyone is in the arena, there is a prayer followed by music and dancing.

The men may perform dances such as the Fancy Dance, the Northern Traditional, or the Grass Dance. The women may perform Traditional dances, Buckskin and Cloth Dance, Fancy Shawl Dance, and the Jingle Dress Dance which includes wearing skirts that contain tin cones to make noise when the dancer moves. Sometimes, spectators are invited to join in the dancing.

No one knows really when or why Native American powwows started, but there are records that show they have been ongoing for at least 100 years. A powwow is a way for Native Americans to honor their Creator, their elders, and their history as well as share their culture with others both inside and outside their tribe.

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