POW WOW ETIQUETTE
LISTEN to the Master of Ceremonies; he will announce all that is going on during the pow wow. He will give description of the dances, ceremonies, and protocol that is to be observed at all times. PLEASE be considerate of those seated or standing behind you. PLEASE make room for everyone to enjoy the dancing and singing. During the Flag and Honor Songs, you are asked to stand and remove your hats to show respect for the American flag and those who are honored guests. Please refrain from taking pictures at this time. The dance arena is for those participating in the dance. It has been blessed and should be considered sacred. You are WELCOME to take photographs BUT individual subjects should be taken only when permission from the individuals is granted. Please be COURTEOUS and if you have any questions, please ASK.
WHAT IS POW WOW?
Pow Wow time is the Native American people’s way of meeting together to join in dancing, singing, visiting, and renewing old friendships and making new ones. This is also time to renew thought of the old ways and to preserve a rich heritage. As various tribes gathered together, they would share their songs, often changing these songs so singers of different tribes could learn. These songs are reminders to the Indian people of their old ways and rich heritage. Pow Wow singers are very important figures in the Native American culture. Without them there would be no dancing. The songs sung at pow wows are of many varieties, from religious to war to social. Dancing has always been a very important part of the life of the American Indian. Most dancing seen at Pow Wows today are social dances. Although dance styles and content have changed, their meaning and importance has not. The outfits worn by the dancers, like the styles of clothing today, evolve over time. It is not a stagnant culture, but a vibrant and changing way of life.
The dance arena is where the majority of all pow wow events take place. The arena is held as a very spiritual and ceremonial place, and it is blessed before the pow wow begins and is considered sacred ground for the duration of the celebration. The bleachers surrounding the dance arena are for spectators and people may also wish to bring their own chairs. The front seats are reserved for dancers, singers, and their families. Elders are also given preferred places to sit.
Running and playing within the dance arena is NOT ALLOWED, nor is it proper for spectators to cross the arena during the pow wow. However, if you enter the circle, you always walk in a clockwise direction.
The drum is much more than a musical instrument to Native Americans, It is sacred and is very special to the traditional way of life and is one of the most important things to our native people. The drum brings the heartbeat of our Mother Earth to the pow wow songs for all to feel and hear. The drumming and beat of the drum brings everyone back into balance.
Whether dancing, singing, or just listening, people around the drum can connect with the Great Spirit.
Songs are started with a lead line sung by the Lead Singer. This lets the drum group and dancers know what song is coming. After the lead line, the “second” (another person at the drum) will take up the lead line, and everyone will join in with him. At this point the dancers begin to dance. The loud beats during the songs, also called “honor beats” are a time for dancers to honor the drum.
Flag Song:The flag song is the Native American equivalent of the National Anthem dedicated to the men and women who have served in the armed forces of various wars.
Honor Songs: Special songs sung to honor a particular person or persons. It is customary to stand in silence to show respect.
Master of Ceremonies
His duty is to keep the event going by announcing and explaining the different dances and events taking place to spectators and participants for the weekend.
His duty is to keep track of the dance arena, making sure dancers and drummers are seated in the correct locations. He will also maintain the order of the dance and drum contests and social dances.
A parade of dance participants that begins each session of t he pow wow.
A staf, spiritual in nature, hung with eagle feathers, which represents the Indian spirit. An honored veteran carries the eagle staff into the dance arena during each Grand Entry before all other flags.
This is when everyone is invited to dance; all dance styles, ages, and genders.
A social dance where dancers move in rows of circles clockwise around the drum moving as one body in harmony to the rhythm.
Bread dough fried in hot oil and can be served with honey and powdered sugar, powerfully delicious.