Kendall Old Elk talks about powwows:

“The powwow is a form of celebration hosted by many Native American tribes throughout the United States and Canada. Today many have evolved into competitions of Song and Dance as well as celebrating important dates associated with the local hosts. We as Native American expressed and express ourselves through our song and our dance. We tell stories of important events. They may be an important battle. A particularly good hunt. They may also convey what we see or hear around us. When the warriors would return from a battle or a hunt there would often times be a celebration. And at these celebrations the events that occurred were related in this manner. With the passing of time, the traditional form of dance evolved into various styles. Depending on the region and surrounding circumstances. Also with the passage of time. Women started to dance as well. And as with the mens style of dance. That too, evolved into different styles. Depending on the region as well. In todays Celebrations you can see as many as up to 10 different styles of dance. The Mens style all seem to have the same root in the traditional style of dance. What the Traditional Dancer wants to do is tell a story. It is very impressive to see a good dancer. You can almost hear the buffalo that he is hunting, or smell the dust and gunpowder of the battle that he is recounting. This style has many sub styles. There is the Southern style popular in the southern part of the US. There is the Northern Style that can be broken down in to various sub styles as well. You may have Old Style, Contemporary, Chicken, and Crow Styles. From the Traditional style evolved another type of dance called the Grass Dance. It is a very athletic style, requiring stamina and agility. What the dancer wants to do is, through his motions, show that he is laying down, without breaking, the long prairie grass in a manner that it will grow again after the celebration. This also has evolved into 2 different styles in some places. Old Style and a more contemporary style. During the first days of the reservation era, trains would stop along there route to refill their tanks with water. This allowed the passengers of these trains to stretch their legs a bit before continuing their journey. At many of these stops some Native Americans would perform songs and dances. Gradually, those responsible for these areas would ask these performers if they could dance a little livelier. And maybe brighten up their regalia with brighter colors. And this is how what is today called the Fancy Dance evolved. This too can be broken down into 2 different sub categories, both northern and southern. Both having their seperate rules on how to dance. At first the women would sit around the circle watching their men dance. Little by little with the passage of time. They started to bounce in rhythm to the singing and beating of the drum. Then, gradually, they would stand and bounce and sway in place around the circle. And eventually they started dancing in the circle itself. And this is how the traditional form of womens dance evolved. Now, as with the mens style of dance, can be broken down into various sub categories. Northern Buckskin, Cloth, Crow. Southern Buckskin, and cloth. They are all very graceful beautiful Styles. Each with its own set of rules. As with mens fancy, the womens traditional style eventually evolved into a livelier, faster paced style. This is danced with a shawl covering the shoulders. The style is fast paced, with complicated foot work. This is what is called Womens Fancy today. As with the grass and mens fancy styles, this is a very athletic style requiring stamina and agility. From the Great Lakes region of North America evolved another style called the Jingle Dress. The dress itself has hundreds of metal cones which has a distinct sound when the dancer moves. Now a typical celebration will last anywhere from 2 to 5 days. With dancing all day and into the night. Not only do the dancers compete against each other, but the different drum groups do as well. The singing and songs are just as important in telling stories as dancing. If not more so. A typical drum group today consists of anywhere from 5 to 20 men around a drum. All singing in unison. Their job is to sing songs appropriate to the occasion. The songs would tell stories as well. Many tribes consider the drum and the drum beat the heart beat of their nations and the heartbeat of motherearth herself. There are songs for many types of occasions. For ceremonies, dances, courtship, weddings, funerals. They can be happy, sad. Convey many types of feelings. Depending on what the author wants to convey with his songs. Some are with words in the native toungue of the author. Some have English words (so that many people from many different tribes can sing together), or they can just have vocables (also so that people from different tribes can sing together). At our celebrations, we have many different styles of Singing. There is the Northern type, which can be broken down into different types of Styles. Such as Northern Contemporary, Straight or OldStyle, Crow. And there is the Southern Styles as well. Not only is there the large type of drum that everyone is familiar with. But there are smaller types as well, known as hand drums.”

(from http://www.white-earth.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1231:kendall-old-elk-crow-absalooke-&catid=107:native-american-artists&Itemid=658&lang=nl)


Powwows.com is a website designed and maintained by Native Americans specifically for Indian Celebrations.  The site is up-to-date, and offers a variety of events on the events page.


Here is a sample screenshot of the website taken on 12-15-2010:

Published on December 5, 2010 at 4:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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