Pow wow is derived from the Algonguian word
The white man perceived Indian dancing as a threat until the late
1800's and early 1900's, particularly those performed by the fierce
Plains Indians. They saw all Indian dances as
The reemergence of the pow wow was related to the ceremonies instituted on reservations to honour the veterans returning home from the wars engaged in by the United States. These ceremonies caused a new found Native American pride. By the end of World War II, the old ceremonies were revitalized. Tribes joined together for the first time in this new pride. This led to intertribal pow wows in which dances, songs, and other observances were shared.
Today the many different types of pow wows held throughout the country also include selling or trading arts and crafts, and feasting on traditional Native American foods. Dance, however, remains the highlight of the pow wow.
Today dances include Round Dances or Circle Dances, performed by facing the center of the pow wow arena in a circle. Dancers circle left with various styles of footwork while keeping time with the drum.
Straight Dance is one of the oldest forms of Plains Indian dance, and involves straight posture while dancers primarily move up and down in fluid motion to the beat of the drum.
The slide or shuffle Dance is done to a double beat. Sometimes it is changed to a staggered beat and referred to as the Crow Hop, done by hopping to noticeably solid beats.
Soldier Dances were developed after World War I to honour Veterans. The beat is similar to the Round dance, but is slower as time is kept to every other beat.
The Stomp Dance begins in a kneeling position as if scouting for an enemy, followed by a burst of dancing. Dancers move forward to symbolize non-retreating.
The Grass dance is one of the oldest dances and is still used in pow wow. Religious in nature, it evolved from warrior society dances. It portrays a warrior in search of a proper ceremonial place. The dancer moves in imitation of tall swaying prairie grass.
Dreams or visions were the basis of the Jingle Dress dance. The dress for this dance is fashioned with such items as small hawk bells, shells, or sewing thimbles to give it sound. The dance was originally used as medicine. Movements have undergone several transition, and today's dancers twist their feet in unison to the right and left while moving sideways.
The Fancy Shawl Dance, one of the most popular dances with women today, originated with middle aged tribal women, and eventually spread to younger women. As it evolved, shawls were added. Today, the body and shawl are kept in harmony with the drum beat.
These and other dances can be seen at the hundreds of pow wows held throughout the country.
The pow wow is a living cultural expression of song, dance, and art which brings people together, and through the drum, reminds us of our connection to Mother Earth.
There are also two types of pow wows, the traditional pow wow, where
everyone who participates receives something through a
Pow wows are a time to put differences aside and to celebrate traditions, mostly it is the time to celebrate life. A Pow wow strengthens an entire race of people. To be Anishinabe is to be proud, to know who you are, and where you came from.
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