Tribute to US and Canadian Veterans - National Pow Wow of the United States

Native Americans: a Theme

Reconstruct the Body

Reconstruct the Mind

Reconstruct the Spirit

Leave the rest behind.

— Native American Song

Reconstruction of the Body and Mind

The National Pow Wow is a cultural tradition, so-named only since 1996. Although its management and venue have changed hands more than once, it brings Indigenous Peoples and their descendants from all around America and Canada.

I visited Washington DC as a youth in 1969. On the National Mall from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I witnessed the demonstrations and the dancing with the rest of the hushed crowds around the memorial and Reflecting Pond.

A 19-year old buzz-cut US Marine in full dress uniform stepped forward and spoke about defending his country and his principles in Vietnam, stepped away, and returned in full Southwest Native American Fancy Dance regalia to perform. We were stunned. He was my hero that day.

They - The People - come together to celebrate their heritage, their languages, their customs, their dances, drumming and music; and their reverence for Nature. They dance with confidence and share Native foods and folklore with everyone that attends.

Among our Native North American languages in Canada and USA, the translation for "soldier", "warrior", "protector" and "helper" are all the same word in each particular indigenous language.

New Pow Wow Location

For several years, the national event has continued to take place at a spot where the new National Museum of the American Indian opened on the National Mall in late 2005.

A second national pow wow emerged in Danville, Indiana. Its organizers state that they have held such a pow wow once every three years since 1969.

Flag of the Iroquois Confederation - Six Nations Reserve, Ontario

The Iroquois Nations once spread throughout New York, parts of Pennsylvania and Southern Ohio, trickling down the Appalachians. Cherokee Nation long ago broke away from the Mohawks and migrated to the Carolinas.
The Iroquois Nations once spread throughout New York, parts of Pennsylvania and Southern Ohio, trickling down the Appalachians. Cherokee Nation long ago broke away from the Mohawks and migrated to the Carolinas. | Source

Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Desert Thunder

We have Pow Wows locally in Ohio -- in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, the Dayton and Springfield area and others; but none of them are as large as the National Pow Wow.

Local Pow Wows are often held on Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September, in order to honor not only Native Peoples as veterans and workers, but all of America and her various cultures coming together to appreciate our servicemen and servicewomen

In August 2007, the National Pow Wow featured Native American US Soldiers from the War in Iraq. In Iraq, they had built a ceremonial drum from the bedding tarp of a cot and a 55-gallon oil drum. They drummed in the dessert and called their drum Desert Thunder. to go along with Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. They brought it to the Pow Wow for a special performance honoring all the military men and women of the US who are in Iraq and other foreign nations.

The surviving Code Talkers of several tribal nations from World War II gave a speech and presentation. No one could break their codes for the US Government during the war - not the Japanese, not the Germans, not the Italians, not the Russians - no Allied or Axis nation's peoples could break it.

A special recognition presentation and ceremony was also held for all Native Americans past and present who served in the Armed Forces.

Despite a past popular belief that Native Americans are all alcoholics, they allow no drugs, alcohol or smoking - even tobacco - on or around the National Pow Wow premises.

US Native Americans are over-represented in the military; post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have hit the Navajo hard.

— The Guardian.com UK; 9-6-2011

National Pow Wow, Washington DC 2007

USA National Pow Wow

Pow Wow Grand Entrance
Pow Wow Grand Entrance

Hoop Dance

Performence from a 2001 pow wow.
Performence from a 2001 pow wow.

Traditional Fancy Dancers

Poster Icon from National Pow Wow 2007, from NMAI
Poster Icon from National Pow Wow 2007, from NMAI

Native Americans in History

Famous Native Americans remembered at the Pow Wow and in the National Museum of the American Indian.

Jim Thorpe was a famous Native American from the Sac and Fox nations. At his vocational high school, he trained in track and field and football under the legendary Pop Warner. Thorpe was later an Olympic athlete, winning Olympic Gold Medals in both the pentathlon (5 events) and decathlon (10 different events) in the 1912 Olympics in Sweden.

He was penalized for playing semi-pro baseball before the Olympic Games, because having accepted payment for any sports participation cancelled out anyone eligibility for the Olympics at that time. Other athletes got around this rule by playing baseball and other sports for pay under false names. The AAU decided that Thorpe should lose his medals.

The AAU and the Olympic Committee took back his medals in 1912 and did not return them to him after his death in 1953, but not until 1982, a full 70 years later. He had played major league baseball from 1913 - 1919 and professional football form 1920 - 1926 and again in 1928. The Associated Press chose him as Athlete of the Half Century in 1950.


Actor Jay Silverheels, of the Mohawk nation, was born the son of a chief on the Six Nations Indian reservation in Ontario, Canada. He trained to become a professional lacrosse player, lacrosse being an indigenous sport for many Native American nations.

He later became a stuntman and then an actor, finally winning the role of Tonto, the Lone Ranger's friend. He was the first Native American actor to play an Indian on TV.


Ben Nighthorse Campbell is a Northern Cheyenne chief and a US Senator from Colorado through 2004. He nearly always attends the National Pow Wow. Like Jim Thorpe, Campbell has also been an athlete - a U.S. Judo Olympic champion three times.


Actor Graham Greene of the Oneida Nation has been in the movies Dances with Wolves and The Green Mile and CBC TV's The New Red Green Show. Like Jay Silverheels, he was also born on the Six Nations Indian reservation in Ontario.


Will Rogers was an American humorist whom everyone assumed to be a cowboy. He was a Cherokee born in the Oologah Indian Territory (Oologah, Oklahoma) in 1879. He was on a par with Mark Twain in his humor and stage presence and he made a few films, including A Connecticut Yankee in 1931.

Women's Smoke Dance

Click thumbnail to view full-size
An Apache dancer, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Nestell served at 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
An Apache dancer, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Nestell served at 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
An Apache dancer, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Nestell served at 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. | Source

More by this Author


Comments and News 18 comments

SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

Wow Wow! What a great Hub!. I always like to read about different cultures and people. Thank you so much for this wonderful article. Best Regards.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thanks! I hope a lot of other people write about other festivals too.


SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

I hope so too Patty. You are just incredible. I am a great fan of yours.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thank you SunSeven. Your words are very encouraging! Of course, you have many wonderful Hubs yourself!


madellen profile image

madellen 8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Lovely piece on First Nations culture, Patty. Why not add a word or two on Buffy Sainte-Maire.

I'm working on a humble article now, seven signs of a spiritual journey, insights from a canoe trip with First Nations youth and elders this summer.

Hope you'll check it out later.

M


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Hi madellen; I'll certainly be glad to read your article and really look forward to it.

The next National Pow Wow will be held soon and I'll add some mateiral from that and will use your suggestion about Buffy Sante-Marie as well. Thanks so much!


SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 8 years ago from Singapore / India

Sent you a mail regarding something Patty. Please check


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

O! I just got done reading it. Thank you for the heads up - I will check it out immediately. You are very observant.

Best wishes!


C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 8 years ago from NW Indiana

All of this information could keep me involved for several hours chasing links. What a wonderful display of informative writing. Very impressive. C.S.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

And so much is going on in the Indigenous communities, it is hard to capture! Thanks so much for visiting, CS Alex.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Another great hub, Patty, full of good information, great American icons and fascinating videos. The Navajo code talkers were incredible. Unfortunately the number of living WW II veterans is falling rapidly. I'm surprised we still have any talkers still with us. Jim Thorpe was a great athlete who got a raw deal, and Jay Silverheels was marvelous as Tonto. Will Rogers was as witty as they come; I didn't realize he starred in an early version of Connecticut Yankee. Of course, Bing Crosby's version is one of my all-time favorite movies..


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I like the Crosby movies as well! There is a film I have not seen yet about the Code Talkers. I must look for it - there is so much abou the war that still, no one knows much about. I hope we don't lose it. I am glad you commented!


emeraldkell 6 years ago

Thanks for writing this amazing hub. It's so important to keep the culture and traditions of all Native American groups alive. We live in a world where the next generation is losing their native languages, values, beliefs and culture. I hope this will never happen.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Awesome blog! I just went to my first Pow Wow this summer and I loved it! Great video-link you put up too (National Pow Wow, 2007).


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

I saw the National Pow Wow, before it was so-named, as a kid way back in 1969. A 19-year-old Marine spoke on the steps of one of the DC memorials, went and changed into fancy dress regalia and danced for the hushed crowd. Then he went back to Viet Nam.

He was my instant hero, and I did not even know about my native heritage yet. Yeah, pretty awesome.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Great hub. I didn't know there was a National Pow Wow.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

It's amazing and even more so since the hallways of American Indian exhibits became a full fledged separate building at the Smithsonian in 2005. Great fun as well. I wonder what happened with that Marine?


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

Patty this is a very cool hub, I am linking to and voting 'up'. This strong heritage is to be honored and shared and the National Pow Wow is a masterful event. In a county near my home, this is celebrated during the annual Salmon festival where many traditional foods and historical methods of survival are shared. The dances and ceremonies are very up lifting and powerful- that haunting yet moving singing reaches so deeply within.

How remarkable that Marine, a burning image you will take with you forever. Thank you for bringing this hub to us.

K9

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working