Native American Indian Powwows For The Beginner

Have you ever been to a Native American Indian powwow? Read this article to learn how to see one and what to expect.

Powwows are a celebration of heritage. They are ritually performed in many of the southwest United States, and even in some parts of New England. While many people believe the powwow to be a private event, they are actually open to the public. You can sit in on a powwow, and in some cases, even be a part of one.

Powwows are peaceful celebrations involving the earth and the people involved. There are no ancient rituals that might scare or shock. In fact, the powwow is a true picture of many Indian cultures, and the earth-loving ways in which they lived. Powwows contain singing, dancing, eating and trading, and usually last for days. Some are combined with other events, such as rodeos, demonstrations, competitions and games. It is not even unusual for a powwow to have rides and a traveling carnival alongside it.

The types of dances that may be seen at a powwow are the southern straight dance, fancy and traditional dances, and gourd dancing, where the dancer shakes a dried gourd as a rattle. Native American instruments are often of great interest to the new viewer. They consist of beautifully carved drums, rattles and small flutes. Drums are the center of a ceremony, and the beat to which the dancers turn and move. Drums are made specially for powwows, and most used in a ceremony are very old and valuable. Instruments are drums are considered to talk to the spirits, so under no circumstances should these be harmed or touched. Native American singing is often done in a call-and-response fashion, where a leader will call out a saying the dancers will repeat it. Native American singing ranges from the very low and guttural to a high, thin wail that seems to whine through octaves. In terms of dress, there will be many animal skins, beads, feathers, fans, and staffs used in the ceremony and dance.

One very interesting phenomenon of powwows is trading. Indians used to barter goods in exchange for other goods that would help them. Today, the same practice holds, although money can be bartered in exchange for something, and most often is. For this reason, many fascinating artifacts and jewelry can be found at these events.

It is important to remember a few general rules when attending a Native American event. Some rituals are sacred and are not to be filmed. Loud noises during a quiet ceremony can result in an ushering out. A headdress and costume is generally considered sacred, and not to be touched. Indian tepees must be respected, and littering is fined in most cases. Finally, alcohol is never allowed.

To find out about powwows, it is usually a good idea to check a local tourist agency. Colleges in the area also have heritage departments with information about happenings in the area. It is possible to find newsletters devoted only to powwows, and newspapers may contain information about upcoming Native American events. Certain powwows are different from other. Some feature old rituals in true form, and some are actually singing and dancing competitions between modern Native American youth.

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