Items from the Frank Bush Memorial "Walk in the Spirit" Pow Wow at Charlton Park in Hastings, Michigan brochure are designated by [FB].

Items from the Riverbank Traditional Pow Wow held at Riverfront Park in Lansing, Michigan brochure are designated by [RT].


A Pow Wow has historical, spiritual, and social value to American Indian People. They are more than social events. The Pow Wow represents continuation of the friendship which has always been extended by Indians to those who have come to Turtle Island, the Native name for North America. Like our ancestors before us, we offer this experience both as an offering of social amenities and in hopes that by introducing our culture, we will all learn from the experience. In addition to participating in the traditional dance and song, people visit with family and friends, make new acquaintances, and maybe even develop more personal relationships. It is also a chance to demonstrate and display artistic ability with the many arts and crafts common to the Indian People.

The Pow Wow has also become a means of providing an opportunity for cultural sharing with non-Indian people. They are a time of learning and carrying on rich cultural heritage. There is a spiritual significance in the dances, songs, and customs observed, and even in the preparations for the event. [RT]


A pow wow is a traditional social gathering. It is a place to meet up with old friends, make new friends. Sometimes spiritual things happen and for many, it is an opportunity to dance or sing before the Creator.

The "Walk in the Spirit" Pow Wow is an opportunity for native people to gather in a traditional social setting. We do the best we know to keep the old ways alive so they are not forgotten. A sacred fire burns here for four days with sunrise pipe ceremonies and talking circles. There is dancing, drumming, singing, storytelling, and traders trade handmade crafts and supplies. New friends are made and old friends catch up. Our pow wow grounds are Anishnabe homecoming grounds, also known as Historic Charlton Park.

The "Walk in the Spirit" Pow Wow is also an opportunity to show people of other backgrounds that we are a respectful and honorable people. We hope that the "Walk in the Spirit" Pow Wow is a positive experience that will help create better understanding of the native culture, help dispel stereotypes, and possibly breed tolerance in both culture and thought.

And, of course, we hope that everyone has a good time! This is a celebration of culture and we are happy to share it with everyone! [FB]


The drum not only sets the tempo of songs and dances at a Pow Wow; it is a very important symbol to Indian People. The sound represents the heartbeat of our people, our Mother Earth and our nations. The drums' circular shape represents the unity of Indian people and our oneness with the universe.

Stretching a hide over a wood frame and lacing the two sides together makes the traditional hide drum. The singers are able to control the pitch of the drum by warming the hide near a small fire or in the sun. Another commonly used drum is the bass drum. All drums are treated with respect. Our elders say that when songs are sung, they are heard by the spirit world.

Each drum has a lead singer who leads off the songs in his language. Each song has a special meaning or story to the person who carries that song with them. While some songs are very old, some are newly composed. Many of them are of a serious nature, such as the veteran's song and honor song, some are humorous and meant to cause a smile, and help us to not take life so seriously. Singers are expected to know a song for every type of dance. Songs are carried by the singers in their memories and not written down. You will often see a young boy sitting at the drum; this is when training begins for learning and remembering songs. Among Great Lakes Indian, women do not sit at the drum, but they do sing with the drummers, joining them in certain songs. [RT]


The "Drum" refers to the Drum and Drummers and Singers. The Drum is the center of our gathering. Their circular shape represents the circle of life. It is the heartbeat of the People and Mother Earth.

Many Drums are Mishomas, or Grandfather Drums. A Manido (spirit), sent by the Creator inhabits the Drum. These are treated with great respect, as all of our Drums are. A Mishomas Drum should never be left unattended. Nor should any Drum be allowed to touch the ground. Drums are treated as wise, old, family members. We attend to their needs and keep them company. [FB]


Pow Wow dancing is done in the spirit of community with our family and friends and all brothers and sisters of the earth. The social and ceremonial significance of dances remains constant, although some may have been adapted to contemporary styles.

Grand Entry is the first dance of the Pow Wow. Dancers enter from the eastern direction to signify the beginning of life. It represents when man came to earth and entered the circle of life. Male dancers enter the arena first to ensure that it is safe for women and children.

Veterans Dance is the first or second dance after Grand Entry. It honors those who served our county. All veterans are invited to participate. Dance regalia is not required.

Intertribal Dances are sometimes referred to as friendship dances. The MC will announce Intertribal dances and invite everyone to join in. Dance regalia is not required to participate. [FB]

Men's Traditional

Also known as "Straight Dancing," this is an opportunity for men to dance in the way of their fathers and grandfathers. A Traditional Dancer's outfit is much more likely to reflect tribal dances than those of the other men's dance styles. The ensemble may frequently include pieces handed down for generations within the family, and may range from a look of dignified simplicity to the dramatically elaborate. The dance style is similar to the outfit itself - elaborate, expressive, and powerful, but not so flashy and exuberant as the other men's styles. [RT]

Men's Traditional Dancers lead the dancers into the dance circle. They are the storytellers and their movements convey tales of bravery, battles, the hunt and other life experiences. Some northern style dancers imitate animals with a side-to-side head movement. Men's Traditional Dancers are graceful and dignified. Their regalia is natural in color and use buckskin with leggings, a breastplate of bone and sometimes bustle. Some wear ribbon regalia with beadwork pieces of hide and red roach headdress of porcupine quills or horsehair. Mirrors are sometimes used to reflect back what is given. [FB]

Men's Fancy

Fancy Dancing is easily recognizable by its frantic tempo and its colorful and distinctive outfits. The outfits feature two very large, vividly colored double bustles, which are worn on the dancers’ backs. Smaller bustles may also be worn on the arms as well. Brightly colored beadwork and accessories are color-coordinated with the colors on the bustles. These men are undoubtedly some of the most energetic of all the Pow Wow dancers. [RT]

Men's Fancy Dancers wear colorful regalia with two bustles worn at the top and bottom of the back. Fast paced, elaborate footwork, high jumps and twirling create each dancer's individual style. [FB]

Men's Grass

This dance style is also easy to recognize by the striking outfits, which are covered from shoulder to ankle with long, thick flows of bright, multi-colored cloth fringe. Men's grass dancing symbolized the young men of western tribes who were asked to stomp down the tall grass of the plains so the people could use the area. The long fringe represents that grass. The dance movements are also distinctive for their sliding, shaking, and spinning motion, rather than the high, kicking steps of the fancy dancers. [RT]

Grass Dancers wear regalia with colorful yarn or ribbon fringes. Originally grass was worn and tucked into a belt. Their drumbeat is slower and they use the entire body to create graceful, swaying movements. [FB]

Women's Traditional

These women dance in a sedate and stately manner, in which they may move slowly about the circle of the arena, but often will simply stand in the same place, rhythmically dipping and swaying to the beat of the drummers. Their outfits are often heavily and elaborately decorated, often with beadwork, sometimes-using porcupine quills, elk ivories, and cowry shells. The dresses themselves may be sewn of buckskin leather or of various types of fabrics. Their colors (and the colors of the decorations) tend to be somewhat gentler and subdued than those of the other women's styles. [RT]

Women's Traditional Dancers lead the female dancers into the arena. They wear buckskin or ribbon dresses with knee-high leggings, decorated moccasins, sashes, various jewelry and carry shawls. They use a subtle bending at the knee for a slight up-and-down motion, and graceful turns to the side. One foot is always touching the ground. Some Women Traditional Dancers use movements that are almost stationary, and their feet never leave the ground. This symbolizes a close tie with Mother Earth. [FB]

Women's Jingle

This dance is aptly named for the tin cone "jingles" that cover the dancer's dress, literally from head to foot. The movements of the dance are bouncy and energetic, so that the jingling of the dresses matches the beat of the drum and provides a constant rhythmical accompaniment to each song. To be a jingle dress dancer, you must have dreamt about being one. With each step that these dancers are taking they are praying for a sick friend, relative, or tribal member. The dress is made of cloth and has hundreds of cones attached, usually 365, each one representing a prayer for each day of the year. When she dances, she uses her fan in a sweeping motion to wave away sickness. [RT]

Jingle Dress Dancers wear cloth dresses decorated with cones made from snuff or soup can lids. The dance is derived from an Ojibwa woman's healing dream. As the cones sway and jingle, the healing prayers are released. [FB]

Women's Fancy Shawl

The outstanding feature of these dancers' outfits is the graceful, brightly fringed shawls that drape the young women's shoulders. They are a perfect compliment to the twirling, prancing, pirouetting steps of this showy, high-spirited dance. The word fancy refers to the footwork, not the shawl. The dress and decorative beaded accessories are vividly colorful, and match the flaring shawls. This exuberant and delightful dance is undoubtedly the flashiest of the women's dancing styles. [RT]

Women's Fancy Dancers wear decorative cloth dresses, beaded moccasins with matching leggings and elaborate shawls. They are also referred to as shawl dancers to represent a butterfly who's mate has died in battle. She mourns and goes into her cocoon, the shawl. Her reemergence celebrates freedom and new life. [FB]



In Native American culture, true wealth comes from sharing with others instead of amassing material wealth. The gesture of giving illustrates selflessness while it strengthens the community bond. The gesture is more important than the value of the gift. Traditionally, great regard and respect came to those who shared their surplus property with their tribe.

Our Pow Wow concludes with this act of generosity. It completes our celebration of friendship, goodwill and sharing with old friends, new acquaintances and the entire community. [FB]


Everyone is welcome at Pow Wow; however, it is important to realize that the dances are ceremonial as well as social events and should be observed with respect.

During Grand Entry, Flag Songs, and Honor songs please stand (if you are able), gentlemen remove your hats and listen to the MC as to whether or not photos can be taken.

Eagle feathers are especially sacred to the American Indians. If an eagle feather falls from a dancer's regalia, a special ceremony will take place to retrieve it. When an eagle feather is being retrieved from the dance circle, please refrain from taking photographs.

Always ask permission before taking photographs of dancers when they are outside of the dance circle. Also please ask permission before taking photos of drummers and their drums.

The East entrance of the dance circle is reserved for dancers. Spectators are asked to refrain from congregating in this area. 

The dance area is for participants only. The arena is blessed prior to the event. In this respect, we ask spectators to consider this sacred ground for the duration on the Pow Wow. You may be invited to enter the dance arena during the Inter-Tribal or Honor Dances.

The dancers' clothing is called regalia, dance clothes, or dance outfit, not "costumes".

If you have a question, ask one of the Pow Wow volunteers. They know many of the answers, or can find someone who does. [RT]


There are times when certain rules must be followed. We, ask that you follow these guidelines out of respect for our people and culture. This will keep you from offending someone by mistake when there are many new friendships just waiting to be made!

Dance Outfits Dance outfits are often referred to as "regalia." Dancers do not wear costumes. Costumes are something worn to present yourself as something you are not. Please do not touch any part of a dancer's regalia without asking. If you see a piece of dance regalia on the ground, do not pick it up, inform one of the dancers.

Dance Circle A spiritual leader has asked the Creator to bless the dance circle. Sometimes spiritual things will happen in this circle even though much of the dancing is social. Please respect the Dance Circle and those dancing by controlling your children and do not use the circle as a short cut across to the other side.

Dancing Everyone is invited to dance when the MC announces "Intertribal dance." Please follow out after the Head Dancers. If in doubt, do as they do. Enter and exit the Eastern door and dance clockwise around the circle.

Feathers Many feathers are worn or carried by our dancers. Please refrain from touching these at anytime. If you see a feather on the ground, inform one of the dancers, but, do not pick it up.

Stand Quietly During honor songs you will be asked to stand quietly. We understand that many people cannot stand for long periods of time.

Elders Arbor Elders are honored for their experience and wisdom. An area of shade has been set up on the edge of the circle for elders to sit. Please respect these elders and do not sit there unless you are an elder or disabled.

Pictures The MC will instruct you when you can and cannot take pictures. (william's note: MCs do not always remember to do this) We want you to take pictures to remember your experience, but we ask that some things be taken home in your heart and not your camera. If you wish to photograph a dancer not in the dance circle, please ask his or her permission first! [FB]



G 'Chi megwetch Gitchie Manito for being with us this day.
We ask that you walk with us, hand in hand,
as we greet the day.

We pray for all the beings the earth: the two leggeds,
the winged, those that crawl, the four leggeds and all others - that
their days will be long on mother earth.

Remind us to walk softly on our mother earth.
Let us take from her only what we need
so that she is not depleted.
Remind us to thank her for what she gives us.

Let us not forget where we come from.
Help us to pray for the next seven generations
as those before us prayed
for their next seven generations.

We ask all the grandfathers to keep an eye on our footsteps.
and guide our path each day.
We thank you grandfathers for your
unwavering devotion to your tasks.




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