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].
WHAT IS A POW WOW?
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.
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
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.
POW WOW DANCING
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.
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
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]
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.
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
POW WOW ETIQUETTE
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
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
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
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 -
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.