Native American culture has thousands of years behind it, and there’s nothing better than celebrating this culture with it’s vast history than with a day of traditional dancing and singing. This gathering is called Pow Wow – a word derived from the Narragansett word powwaw, meaning spiritual leader. Pow Wows are a Native American way of coming together in song and dance to renew old friendships and make new ones.
It is believed that this ceremony originated among the War Dance Societies of the Ponca and other Southern Plain Tribes. Then again, it is also believed that the powwow is something that morphed from the mandatory dance shows that the US government forced Natives to perform after forcing them into reservations.
Whatever the origin is, Pow Wows today pay homage to the Native American culture by showcasing the songs and dances that were always an integral part of the culture. Through the times, the dance styles and content were changed, but despite these changes the meaning and importance of these dances remains the same. Same goes for the outfits and songs used during the celebration.
During the Pow Wow, various tribes gather and share their songs. Some of the old songs are revived and recomposed, but they are still sung in traditional tung reminding everyone of their old ways and rich heritage.
The Pow Wow begins with the Grand Entry, where participants enter the arena while the veterans carry the flags. Those flags generally include the US flag, various tribal flags, the POW flag, and Eagle Staffs of the various Native Nations present. Sometimes, the Grand Entry starts with a parade through town.
Veterans are followed by VIPs including the Tribal Chiefs, Princesses, Elders, and the Pow Wow organizers. Next are the men dancers, followed by the women dancers until everyone is in the arena. The arena is filled with songs followed by dances to drum beats.