Native American Indian Pow Wow Arena

This article will explain what the Pow Wow arena is for and the rules that you need to know when attending an American Indian Pow Wow.

A Pow Wow is a Native American Indian gathering. Every spring and summer you will see flyers posted for Pow Wows in most every State in the Union. Pow Wow is a time of American Indian tradition and brotherhood. Most Pow Wows are open to the public so that others can become educated about the traditions of Native American Nations everywhere.

Most Pow Wows take place outside at a fairgrounds or the like. Although it is not uncommon to find a Pow Wow indoors, most do take place outside in a large area. No matter whether the Pow Wow is inside or out once you enter you have gone inside the Pow Wow arena.

The arena in which the Pow Wow takes place is very sacred ground. Before the fairgrounds or convention center has opened the grounds of the arena have been blessed over and over again. This blessing assures that the area has been cleansed of unwanted bad spirits. This arena is a sacred area.

The Pow Wow arena is a place for celebration. The arena is also a place where respect and disipline must be maintained. Once you have entered the Pow Wow be most respectful.

While attending a Pow Wow never enter the arena with alcohol or drugs of anykind. It is never permissible to attend a Pow Wow already under the influence. This action will never be tolerated and shows much disrespect to all in attendance.

When atending Pow Wow you should never enter the circle where dances are performed unless asked. This is very disrespectful and will not be tolerated either. If you are asked to participate in a group dance be sure to wait until the master of ceremonies has announced that the dance will begin before entering.

The arena directors, or master of ceremony, oversees control and disipline within the arena. These leaders are commited to the traditions and spirituality of each and every nation of American Indians in attendance. These people focus their energy and also prayer towards maintaining a spiritually safe and cleansed environment. Anyone acting in an inappropriate manner may force the arena director to stop thew Pow Wow and re-cleanse the area before allowing the Pow Wow to continue.

You will witness the directors and master of ceremony cleansing the arena many times. Usually the cleansing occurs before the grand entry, or the beginning of the Pow Wow. The arena director will usually cleanse the arena before and after the dances have taken place. This cleansing assures that each person dancing is performing is a spiritually clean space.

To cleanse any arena usually the director and master of ceremony use sage and sweetgrass. The sage and sweetgrass is bundled before hand and then the end lit so that the smoke can facilitate the cleansing. Sometimes wormwood or cedar is used, depending on what part of the country you are attending Pow Wow in.

In native culture, the eagle feather is sacred. Many dancers use eagle feathers as part of their dance regalia. If for any reason an eagle feather is dropped it needs to be cleansed. The arena directors' job is to guard the eagle feather and not leave the spot it is in until the proper cleansing ceremony is performed.

Never enter the inner arena. You will see chairs around the inner arena but do not use these chairs. These chairs are intended for dancers only. Any breach of this rule can result in Pow Wow being stopped for re-cleansing. It shows disrespect to enter the inner arena and it is never permissible unless asked by special request.

The "Flag Song" has it's earliest origins during the period when some Indian Nations would honor the eagle feather staffs of leaders from different bands of Indian Nations. The sacred nature of the treaties signed with non-Indian government made Indians desire to honor the U.S. flag in some manner. The "Flag Song" is the Indian "Star Spangled Banner". The performance of this song is meant to turn the thoughts and hearts of Indian people to the fallen warriors who gave their lives in defense of the United States. Just like the "Star Spangled Banner", this song deserves respect and you should stand and pay honor and respect.

Another area that demands respect is the drummer's area. The heartbeat of the Pow Wow is the drum. There is reverence with all Pow Wow drums. The "Drum" is considered to be not only the actual drum, but the singers as well.

There are two types of drums; Northern and Southern. Northern singers are slightly a higher pitch. The Northern beat is faster as well. The Southern drum has a slower beat.

Drums have different language groups. You probably will not be able to understand all the words when you first hear them. The language sounds alike, but after listening awhile you will be able to easily distinguish the words. You will also notice the different pitches in the singers voice.

Each drum has it's own unique spirit. The drum must be treated with respect at all times by anyone who dances to the drum, or sits in front of the drum. The singers are required to conduct themselves with traditional dignity and respect at all times. Women are never allowed to sit behind the drum. Women can only lend their voices, but they can never participate in drumming.

Without Pow Wow and all the people involved in preserving the tradition, much heritage would be lost. The dedication of each person involved keeps American Indian tradition and the values associated with it alive. Without these people and the people who support the Pow Wows, American Indians would loose a great deal of their heritage and who they are.

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