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Native American Powwows Gatherings

Updated on July 6, 2013
Dancers Keepers of the Eastern Door Mohawk
Dancers Keepers of the Eastern Door Mohawk | Source
My other uncle
My other uncle

Powwow Etiquette

Powwows can be fun and a way to find something different and see Native American culture. To the natives it is fun and they like to express themselves. Many of the large events have a lot of prizes that they can win for dancing.

When I was in New York in one of the offices there was a girl there that was in the Thunderbird Dancers in New York there. That office had called a secretarial agency that specialized in people that were in the arts and wanted to work. So she had invited us all to a pow wow. I arrived at the tail end of it because I had an art class that was nearby it.

There was a native woman there. She told me that it was at the end. Then she said that everyone could go in and dance at the end. I did not quite know what to make of it. I would have felt a little challenged by it. But really I pretty much liked the idea. I did not see the girl there that was from our office that had been working temp. That girl had told us that she was Cherokee. She had also then told us that for Thanksgiving they were going to have a Peace Party at her place. I don't see her picture on the website for the Thunderbird Dancers, she may have left. I put a link to the site on here.

But I had been to other powwows before. If you are from a small town place you usually don't see them. But I am partly Mohawk. It is only a small percent now. I look white and I am dark blonde. I don't want to misrepresent myself. But my uncle used to still go up to the Mohawk reservation before. I was not taken there with him, but I did go to pow wows on my own later. I have other relatives that used to visit there to try and find out family history. It is very difficult to look up the records without detailed information.

There are really different types of powwows. Some of them, the big ones, are for something like the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Then there are the smaller ones. The larger ones have prizes. They can have them out on the street for the public to see or in a building in an enclosed space. I prefer the ones that are outdoors. They can wear different types of outfits that are more authentic looking, wild or creative. You can tell what is going on by the drum music. I do like the drumming.


Powwow Etiquette

What you do need to remember about powwows is that the middle where the dancers are and the rest of it with the performers is like a stage and you can't just go on it without permission or word from their announcer. There is usually a master of ceremonies type of person that will explain what is happening and tell people what they can expect. It is usually very polite and there is no trouble.

I had read in a travel book that you are not supposed to clap for the dancers but people do. They do it to be polite. Also there is a certain dress code for the events. It is supposed to be looked down on for women to wear too skimpy outfits. That is the word from the travel book anyway. I have noticed a little of that attitude myself. It is better to know what is going on.

There are more unwritten rules. You are not supposed to touch the dancers. Also you should be polite about any photos. It would be a good idea to get permission. I would not bother them at all while they are dancing because they will be distracted. You don't want to ruin the dance. If you are professional you can perhaps ask someone in charge for a type of permission and to get permission from the dancers. Other than that the Native Americans themselves are used to having other people around at the pow wows.

I am attaching a link to etiquette rules on the Internet. It also has a list of powwows in the United States.

Portland Pow Wow
Portland Pow Wow | Source

Native American Dances and Museums

The National Museum of the American Indian in New York City had a dance by Mohawk dancers and I saw that one. I think that it was a bit toned down there but it was nice. it is free to go in there. The museum also sometimes has dances by some of the other tribes. It has various other things going on there.

There are exhibits there of different American Indian items. There was a shirt from Crazy Horse there. It also had a modern art type of picture like a computerized picture of upstate New York by a Mohawk artist.n in Washington DC. Then there are the smaller ones. The larger ones have prizes.

There is a museum in Phoenix, Arizona called the Heard Museum for Native Americans. It has an annual event for hoop dancing. It is not really a powwow. It is more of a dance contest. There are prizes for it.


Native American Gatherings

I had answered an ad in Los Angeles about a get together event for the Mohawks Indians.That is when they were having the fight over the land in Canada. The Mohawks were angry because they were taking their land to build a golf course on it. The land that would be taken was a burial ground.

I was told by the leader there that it was a gathering. It meant I think that people were there but it was not like a pow wow. It was different and a serious type of meeting. To me it was a meeting. They did have dancing still. There were other dancers, not the Mohawk. It actually had a movie star there participating in the show. He had played Jimmy in Thunderheart. His name is John Trudell and he does poetry readings. It is a Native American movie about murders on the reservation.

There was not a talk about what was going on with the Mohawk as I had wanted. I found out later that it was over then. It had been hard to keep up with it in the papers while working. I looked it up later in magazines from Canada.

He did the poetry that he had for the gathering. I thought that was nice. They had dinner there. I gave something to them when they were collecting for donations. I talked to one of the women there that was Sioux. She had been at the takeover of Alcatraz before that. It was interesting.

This was a serious gathering though. The Native American man in charge had started in the beginning to take charge and had gotten angry at one guy that he thought was fooling around.

I think it is okay that I wrote about this on here as the guy that was in charge told us that they wanted us to tell others about what had happened there that night and what was happening with the Mohawk up in Canada then about the demonstration.

Have you ever been to a powwow?

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