What is a Powwow?
Powwows are common inter-tribal events among all North American tribes. Historically, the powwow began as an association of warrior societies and specific ceremonial practices. A traditional powwow was a time for the host village to give away to neighboring tribes, to celebrate a new season, the harvesting of an important food, or in recognition of tribal and historical events. The powwow was an effort to promote inter-tribal peace, and was quickly adopted by all tribes. Today, powwows generally show the effects of time, distance and history. However, tradition and cultural integrity are still part of this social event containing traditional dances, songs and foods. Pride in Native American heritage is evidenced in the dancer’s regalia and the singers’ voices around the drums. The powwow is a joyful, social event and for many, it is a way of life.
What is a Grand Entry?
The participants enter the powwow dressed in full regalia, dancing in grand style. Representing a unique heritage, these dancers enter dressed in every color imaginable. Fully charged and filled with excitement, the dancers dance for the spectators and to ancestors long forgotten by everyone else except their people. Their feet in constant rhythm with the drum beat and singing, dancing their prayers to the Creator.
Flag Bearers: At the head of the procession is an honored individual carrying the Indian Flag that represents all the Indian Nations. Streamers of colorful ribbons, otter fur, and Eagle feathers make the flag that is honored above all others. Behind this Indian flag are the veterans of past wars carrying the American Flag, V.F.W. Post flags, state flags, etc. These are put at the head of our people because they represent to us the memories of loved ones who fought and died defending our own people from the ravages of war. The warrior is held in high regard and in each event, the people try their best to honor them and to bring to the people’s attention the deeds of valor achieved by Indian veterans of war.
Royalty: Following the veterans are the Powwow Princesses who represent the people’s virtue and morals. We hold our women in high esteem for they are the other half of a complete nation. These young women have been chosen because of their ability to represent their people.
Traditional Dancers: The Traditional dancers represent tribal traditions, through their choice of materials used in developing the dance regalia, i.e. style of beadwork, headdress, colors, choice of feathers, etc. They are responsible for carrying themselves with dignity in honoring his or her tribal traditions. Veterans in traditional regalia take part in the fallen feather pick-up ceremony. They also help to maintain order during the powwow and also dance for those who cannot dance themselves, i.e. elders, disabled, and the very young.