Table of Contents The Pow Wow 2
The Arena 2 The Spiritual Leader
The Master of Ceremonies or MC 2 The Arena Director
Head Man/Woman Dancer
The Drum 3 The Southern Drum
The Northern Drum
Pow Wow Etiquette
Dances 4 American Indian Changing Spirits 8 Pendlton Blankets 10 First Nations Experience FNX TV 11 NAIPFFVM
2 The Master of Ceremonies or MC
The Pow Wow Pow Wows are a critical part of American Indian society. Often the glue that holds a community together helping to maintain continuity in times when increased outside pressures try to force changes that threaten Indian identity. Pow Wows help fulfill social and spiritual functions acting as an arena where people can visit friends and relatives, honor members of the community, celebrate happenings in the community, and take part in dancing, prayers, and rituals helping reinforce traditions and model the culture for the children so that “the people might live.”
While this list is by no means comprehensive, it will give you some guidance as to what you will see and experience at the Pow Wow. The thing to always bear in mind is that Pow Wow is a joyous celebration of Native American culture and tradition. All are welcomed to share in the richness and beauty.
Some of the various components of the Pow Wow include:
The Spiritual Leader It is customary to invite the Spiritual Leader from the tribe to which the land belongs. In Los Angeles, this would be the Tongva (also known as the Gabrielino). The Spiritual Leader blesses the arena and helps fill the spiritual needs of the people.
The Master of Ceremonies acts as the “host” or voice that presides over the timing of the Pow Wow. The MC is responsible for keeping the Pow Wow moving in an orderly and timely manner. He notifies the dancers, directs the drums in the order and type of song they will play, and makes announcements of general interest to all present.
The Arena Director
The arena area is blessed by the Spiritual Leader at the onset of the Pow Wow. After the arena is blessed, the arena is sacred ground, and the circle area is reserved for dancers, drums, and ceremony.
The Arena Director directs activities in the arena and helps ensure appropriate behavior. Sometimes the Arena Director is accompanied by a Whip Man who sees that the arena is treated with respect. The Arena Director is equivalent to a Sergeant-At-Arms maintaining order in the arena, ensuring protocol is followed, and assisting the dancers, the MC, Pow Wow officials, and the Head Staff in carrying out the Pow Wow.
Your cooperation in keeping the sacredness of the circle is greatly appreciated. Please also keep your children with you at all times (no running or playing in the arena) and keep the arena entry (the East Gate) clear.
Head Man/Woman Dancer These dancers are chosen to lead the Pow Wow proceedings based on his or her knowledge of dances, protocol, and traditions. Generally, no one else dances until one or both of the Head Dancers begin the particular dance or set of dances.
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The DRUM The Drum consists of a group of singers surrounding the Pow Wow drum with a lead singer. Most Pow Wows have a Northern Drum and Southern Drum who perform different songs and styles depending on what is happening in the arena. Other drums are invited to join around the arena. The drum is considered sacred as it is “The Heartbeat of the People,” and it is the central feature to the Pow Wow or any other Native American gathering. At the Pow Wow, each drum comes prepared with a repertoire of as many as 200 songs. The singers must know the appropriate song for the various Pow Wow events and dances. Divided into Southern and Northern styles, the listener will notice singing which differs in tempo, pitch, song configuration, and style. The Southern Drum Southern Drum is style of singing and drumming from the Southern Plains, especially Oklahoma. Songs may have breaks or pauses, the cadence is generally slower, and the pitch is lower than Northern Style. The Northern Drum Northern Drum is the Northern Plains style of singing and drumming. Songs are generally in four parts with a tailing end, with no breaks or pauses, and uses higher pitch singing. The Head Singer Head Singer is the lead singer, most often from the Host Southern Drum. He holds the honorary position, and chooses the appropriate song(s) and leads the drum.
A DANCER’S CLOTHING IS CALLED “REGALIA”: Please do not refer to the clothing of the dancer as a “costume.” Doing so could be taken as an offense, though the dancer may not voice it. Among traditional dancers it is thought that only clowns and actors wear costumes. A dancer’s regalia is a unique expression of spirit, often comprised of heirlooms and other articles handmade by family and friends handed down generation to generation. Please do not touch a dancer’s regalia or photograph without first asking permission.
4 Men’s Fancy Dance The Men’s Fancy Dance is characterized by copious beadwork, brilliant colors, double bustles and sometimes bustles at the arms. This dance takes grace, strength, and incredible coordination.
Women’s Fancy Shawl Dance Long-fringed shawls with colorful designs coordinate with beaded moccasins, leggings, capes, and hairties. Another spirited high-energy dance, this dance from the north country and has become more popular in recent years.
Participants stand during the blessing and honoring songs. Men remove their hats in respect, and women wear or carry their shawls during this time or when entering the arena.
Pow Wow Etiquette ARRIVE AT THE START OF THE DAY: The MC will often explain many of the events before they start. If a printed program is available use it to follow the day’s activities. The program may also include special rules of conduct.
STAND DURING SPECIAL SONGS: Including the Grand Entry, Flag Song, Veteran’s Song, Memorial Song, as well as any Prayer Songs the MC indicates. Men and women should remove hats during these songs to show respect.
BRING YOUR OWN SEATING: Unless you are a family member of the dancers, singers, drums, or Head Staff, please provide you own seating. Public seating/stands are often provided. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on. Please do not move chairs or blanket already set to make room for yours.
RESPECT REGALIA. Never pick up or handle another person’s regalia without permission. Besides regalia being expensive, many of the symbols represent families or nations, and some articles are sacred.
MEN’S NORTHERN TRADITIONAL DANCE
The Men’s Northern Traditional Dancers wear elaborate bustles with long feathers, often from the Eagle. Headpieces or “roaches” are made of porcupine hair or the hair from the deer’s tail. Usually two eagle feathers adorn the center of the roach and are often placed in “spinners” to allow the feathers to twirl during the movement of the dance.
GRASS DANCE The Grass Dancer can be identified by the lack of bustles, long fringe or ribbons hanging gracefully from the regalia, and elaborately decorated pants, shirt, cuffs, apron and moccasins. Usually a “roach” with one feather adorns the head of the grass dancer. Dancers often wear bells at the ankle that make for an auditory accompanyment to the fast and energetic movements of the grass dancer.
LADIES’ CLOTH DANCE is characterized by the slow, graceful walk and gentle sway in exact time to the music contribute to the stateliness of the dance. The gentle swaying motion of the shawl folded over the arm and motion of the body match the drumbeat. Much of the beaded work contain important symbols to the tribe or dancer. This dance is about control and stateliness.
6 THE JINGLE DANCE This dance is characterized by the numerous jingle cones that â€œsingâ€? with the dancer like the sound of many tiny bells. The story goes that an old Ojibwa man dreamed of the dance and made the dress for his daughter. The spirits were so please, the man made a miraculous recovery.
7 LADIES TRADITIONAL BUCKSKIN DANCE Originally only worn by women leaders, this dance is the epitome of stateliness and regality, and the dancer carries herself with dignity and absolute control. The buckskin dress decorated with elaborate beadwork is finely made and a thing of beauty. During the song, the dancer will salute the drum with her feather fan.
Below right, Spritual Leader James (Jimi) Castillo and his lovely wife Jeanette.
Dominguez Inaugural Pow Wow 2011. Head Woman Dancer, Jessica Whiteshield; Dean Sandra Parham; Ms. Decrane; Head Man Dancer, Richard Decrane; President Garcia; Jorge Haynes; Cheryl McKnight, Irene Vasquez; Paulie Vasque
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Guide to Pow Wow etiquette and explanation of dances and regalia