18 comments on “POWWOW

  1. Delta Park coming right up here in Oregon. And I have to admit I look forward to powwow season to indulge in fry bread and even better an Indian taco with buffalo chili on it. Even if some have an issue with that. What I look forward to even more is that I usually see at least one eagle close overhead because the park is located next to the Columbia River. And I came to your blog today hoping I could share this article about wampum belts. Oren Lyons is quoted in it. Even though I am Shawnee and of the Algonquian branch, these Haudenosaunee belts are a beauty to behold and the canoe trip down the Hudson would be a sight to see.

    • Indeed they are Mary, and thanks for the link. The state of New York attempts
      to push the envelope at times-most notably when they seem to face a budget
      shortfall and begin talking about taxing Onondaga.
      One creative response I am familiar with is that Onondaga would then opt
      to erect toll booths on state highways that cross their land.
      Go on and have a good time Mary.

  2. we tried to change some of the modern day aspects of “pow wow”, and took quite a beating for it, is goes to show the almighty dollar is regarded much more so than “gathering as a community” , Que Sera, Sera …. it tickles me to see some people get bent about others in a headdress or such while at the same instance they are the same who look like neon lamps with g-strings under their glitzy so called traditional regalia, the wife and i talked about this today a bit, and she commented on how even the jingle dancers no longer reflect the sounds of birch bark leaves wisking in the wind (gentle), they are now radical, thrashing and clinging tin, in place of the motion, movements and sounds of hoove jinjles. At any rate, the “pow wow” today with it’s wild bill hickcock grand entry , arena speaker (MC), Royality, competition , etc ….. has really smeared identity and beliefs.

    a blog i posted a while back on the topic of “pow wow” , http://jpwade.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/influenced-into-death/


    on another note, passing along a bit of info, Suzanne is still getting clubbed by the hackers, below is a repost from my fb page ….

    Suzanne Dupreeposted toJoe Wade
    Saturday at 8:57pm ·

    Please let Rezinate know, have no way of contacting him…
    Suzanne Dupree
    Currently my hotmail account is not accessable, please call me…
    With the new password & security code for Hotmail/Outlook, I will not be able to access my account for 30 days.
    Please let my other friends know, as I am unable to do so at this time.
    We found numerous people from Nevada & other locations hacking & stealing data, financial & personal information & photos from our computers from remote locations unknown to us…since I do NOT live in Nevada, or any of the locations listed as having control & access to my hotmail account & Facebook…you will not be receiving posting & updates on FB, LinkedIn, and the other social networking sites until those sites secure my information frombeing hacked, that includes our cell & landline phone which were also hacked…
    This IS a Federal Crime & the digital fingerprin s of the hackers have been retained by our attorney to be sent to the Attorney General/FBI, hopefully with this ongoing scandal…it will not impede the process.
    I will NOT be silenced, cyber stalked, hacked or in anyway harassed because of the issues I address, & because of this Administrations illegal use of power to seize FB info, emails, etc.
    Long live the Constitution of the United States, for it was drafted to prevent these types of actions of a government abusing power & the American public.
    True Patriot, Suzanne Dupree-Looking Back Woman-HakiktaWin
    May 25, 2013

    • As I said I have some pet peeves of mine own-not restricted to the direction
      powwows have taken, but a variety of things.
      I recall Russell Means going on about powwows once and thinking to myself
      what a fraud he was in doing so while at other times attempting to promote
      “his” sundance.
      This problem, like the vast majority of others has become systemic in nature,
      making it all the more difficult to address and overcome, and I seriously doubt the
      commercial aspect of it will ever cease.
      The nations are changing, and change in itself often accelerates the process
      whether good or bad.
      If that is the case then it comes down to what is in the heart of the dancer,
      the drummer, and those who participate.
      There are a few ceremonies still being conducted that are strictly traditional,
      they aren’t publicized, promoted, or intended to generate revenue.
      Seems as though there is a growing desire to emulate what is seen-if there are
      models then the nations must have models, casinos-then the nations must
      have casinos, dance contests with cash prizes- then the nations must have dance
      contests with cash prizes.
      But everything is a trade off to some degree or another, and a reality that lies underneath
      all this is that in the midst of poverty, a poverty that sees what others have makes
      it’s no easy task to tell people or the youth that the status quo is as good as it
      gets-they can have nothing more when there exists a great hunger, great need for exactly
      Poverty and the negative influence of an organization like AIM are the engine that
      drives decline-the proof of AIM’s role is to look at the nations pre ’68, the youth,
      and then compare them to this present day.
      Look at the position elders and traditional leadership held, and then compare it
      to the present day .
      So while I have issues with some aspects of powwows I’m not willing to throw
      the baby out with the bathwater, and I’ll continue to live my life being as much as
      of a human being as I can regardless of what surrounds me.

      I’m aware of the issues LBW is having and have offered advice and alternate
      approaches.I’m sure there are those who take some satisfaction in the problems
      she is experiencing, too them I would say it ain’t over ’til it’s over,
      and it ain’t over by any calculation. Thanks for the link

    • Z gave me an ear full about a correction , “deer hoove’s” for jingles , she can be so detailed at times 🙂

      • uh huh-it ain’t easy being men sometimes-but this is the net, and if typos aren’t
        the first language then they surely are the second one.
        I find I am constantly correcting my spelling-looks good at first, and then everything
        leaps off the page at me when re-reading after posting.

  3. I was a little surprised to see this here since it was only sent to my language mailing list. I do sometimes overstate my case as a rhetorical device, and I hope nobody will interpret my comments to mean that there is nothing valuable in modern powwow traditions, simply that they are modern, and may or may not reflect the traditions of a particular nation or people – even that of the host.

    I think you sum it up beautifully here: “In the end the experience is defined by what each brings to it, what is in the heart of the dancer or the drummer, the smiles and participation of our children, and the foot tapping of our elders whose eyes speak to the memories they entertain as they watch or participate-it is a time for them to dream, and for us as well.”

    • Well Brian-I won’t reveal my “source” even if I am to be water boarded, it was part
      of a discussion between a friend of mine and I who praised both your course, the
      article, and you and as person.
      I felt compelled to blog about it but in doing so nearly gave myself a migraine as I
      didn’t want to offend in any manner.
      My friend had related questions to ask and felt it easier for me to understand on
      my end by forwarding it than attempting to paraphrase.
      No effort is or will be made to “pirate” your course, if that is even possible-in
      fact the idea of enrolling myself to learn another language has been entertained with
      the thought that the student in question and I might facilitate his progress through
      a shared learning- I know my birth language while they do not. And in fact sent them
      the link to your course after running across it suggesting they might look into it.
      I for one didn’t come away after reading your article with the belief you are
      completely against powwows (and I felt the historical references were important)-only
      that you like myself and others recognize the changes that are taking place and wish
      it weren’t so.
      Neither did I consider it an overstated exercise in rhetoric.

      • I would never suggest piracy, or even “extraordinary rendition” by an “intellectual property privateer” 🙂 … I was just surprised at the ripple effect since I had only sent it to my list Saturday morning. Also surprised at how the stark design of your page made my words look so much harsher than I had intended.. especially seeing it late at night.

        Frequently I get questions like “What’s the Cherokee word for powwow,” “How do you say mitakuye oyasin in Cherokee,” or requests to translate names and prayers from another indigenous language. The article followed questions on whether the title of “powwow princess” was actually a pejorative stereotype and should be discontinued. Probably, I replied, but so is powwow, and in both cases, it comes down to individuals and intention.

        I know I come off strident and pedantic at times, and it’s been a struggle to refrain from correcting people who haven’t requested correction. Those who have signed up for my classes and even the newsletter have given that consent; the general public has not… hence my apology for any unintended offense I may have given.

  4. “I know I come off strident and pedantic at times”

    I’m sure there are those who read this blog who would say
    I do as well, but the issues are serious, complex, and life
    changing-so I’m not often given to offer apologies, perhaps a
    character flaw, but I leave that to others to decide.
    The photo that accompanies this particular blog wasn’t
    randomly selected-it is one I believe that cuts to the
    heart of the matter-the present and the future for the
    nations children, and the role socialization can play
    in that.
    There is an innocence about children that all parents,
    all communities, should strive to protect-reality, the
    downside of it, should be an age centric learning process,
    not a slap at birth that continues and erodes through infancy,
    adolescence, and adulthood-or to put it another way
    from the cradle to the grave.
    The nations need to do better, are capable of doing so,
    are obliged to.
    A part of doing better is speaking the language, if
    parents can’t then they should learn to and provide
    the example-that would go a long way in remediating many
    That and zero tolerance for alcohol, drugs, or people
    acting stupid, like gangs that threaten the fabric of
    But now I run the risk of becoming strident, if not pedantic,
    better to quit while I’m ahead as I will readily admit to
    being strident at times, the word pedantic however is associated
    with teaching, something I am neither qualified to do or
    lay claim to while respecting those who have the ability.
    So apparently no harm no foul in posting your article-hopefully
    it and the responses are food for thought for others.
    If so, I’d say that’s a good thing.

  5. Well I am personally very happy that that “secret article” was revealed, Brian 🙂 It’s truly worth reading.

    Myself never been on real American powwow – saw some videos, had some tries to recreate in my country by those who value indigenous culture and trying best recreate and show indigenous Americans culture in honest way, as much as they can.

    But issue with commercialized events are nothing new to me as well and annoyance it’s causing. I guess it’s problem of every indigenous group not only in America. October fest, St. Patric’s Day…and of course national Independence Days. And of course issue JP described – ocean of details we could give each other about what been turned into money making and saving garnish kitsch. And it some moments, watching people turning into cavemen (rude, greedy, unkind, pushing through, swearing and arguing; children crying,shouting,screaming, running) in such terrible environment INSTEAD of being calmed, amazed, admiring, happy, enjoying slowly and with good manners…sometimes is hard to force yourself to believe THIS IS community spirit… 😀

    But luckily -not always is like that, there are events and places where people still doing it traditional beauty-full ways…and that gives hope 😛

  6. Good discussion here. I was wondering if anyone else has encountered a fire in the center of the arena at powwows. I’ve only ever seen it in PA but it drives me absolutely nuts as it is just plain stupid and dangerous. “Can we get some warriors out here to stand around the fire while the children dance.” I mean come on! Every time I ask about where it came from, I get a different answer. There is one “elder” who claims he keeps the coals from one fire at a powwow going until the next powwow. That is just weird and crazy. It is not yeast for making bread. At PA powwows, you will even see the “Firekeeper” listed on the flyer like the drums and head man and head woman dancers, as if that will bring potential fans of that particular firekeeper to the powwow – LOL! And do not get me started about people’s rediculaous reactions to women and men sitting around the same drum together and singing. Some folks act like you just killed one of their family members if you happen to have a vagina and sit at the drum with your male family members. It is just plain silly the way some folks are all “well I am traditional and women do not sit at the drum.” Um ok well if the firekeeper said it, it must be tradition.

  7. Kira -the range of experience varies from location to location but apparently
    share a common commercial aspect- I’ve yet to see a fire center stage but
    if it evolves to the point of roasting marshmallows or hot dogs I’ll be moving
    Mostly we just get together with friends to drum and dance, sometimes
    an impromptu thing, sometimes planned to coincide with a specific date
    in a person’s life-like a child’s birthday, the birth of a child, or something else
    deemed to be significant , such as certain times of the year.
    Keeps it personal and nobody is waving a flag or competing.
    But we also attend the larger scale ones at times and enjoy ourselves.
    The abuse of titles like chief and firekeeper has become rampant, we’ve
    probably got more of both now than during our combined history- I find it
    particularly egregious when a non indigenous person makes such a claim
    or when an indigenous person proclaims them self a chief of chiefs.

  8. One trend I have also seen lately is tatoo artists renting booths at powwows and teenagers getting their first tatoo at a powwow. Whatcha think about that?

    • Not much- tattooing among some ethnic groups has a cultural
      significance, by and large now though for the majority of
      people who get one, or ten, or twenty, it’s more of a
      fad….some statement they think they are making
      I knew a young person once who wanted to get a tat and was
      asking me what I thought about it- I suggested they think about
      it and consider that an eagle that might look good initially
      will look like a condor as they age- a battleship would begin to
      look like the Titanic going down.
      I saw a statement once that face tats translated to a lifetime
      of unemployment or menial jobs-something else to consider.
      The presence of “tattoo artists” at a powwow is another sad
      commentary about the direction being taken.
      It’s a matter of choice-mine is to remain ink free, but I don’t
      automatically discount a person who opts to have one.

  9. Thanks for all the useful information about powwows. I just attended one during Memorial Day weekend. If you have a chance, please stop by my blog as I have posted photos from the event.

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