Articles

Powwows

during the University of Saskatchewan Graduation Powwow at the PAC on the U of S campus in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on Wednesday, June 8 , 2011. Photo Liam Richards for the University of Saskatchewan

Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph

Jesus, I wanna be the poet who writes about the powwows
the first one to describe how the smell of sweetgrass
trails behind the Indian dancer with his long dark hair,
eagle feathers swirling in soft curls on his bustle,
and how the jingles on his feet
laced tightly to fur leggings shake and ring, announcing his presence
as he walks to concessions and orders a pepsi and drinks it in silence,
his war paint unsmudged, his dark eyes heroic.

Powwows are an essential part of Native tradition today. They are one of the many testaments to the fact that we have inherited a living culture which moves and breathes to the rhythm of ancient drums. Many Tribes across the country host inter-tribal powwows each year where dancers from many nations come to share in the community and regality of Native-style dance, and to compete for prize money.Every powwow begins with a Grand Entry, usually held at twelve o’clock, with a second Grand Entry at seven o’clock. The drum beats start slow, as Golden Age dancers from every dance style lead the lines. As younger dancers enter the circle, the beat begins to accelerate. All around, flashy colors, bold designs, and eagle feathers twirl, while the rhythm of the host drum and the rising vocals of practiced singers create an ambience of victory.

Following the Grand Entry, there are competition dances. Male and female dancers have the opportunity to compete with others in their age and division. For male dancers, some of the competition dance styles are traditional, southern, fancy, and grass dance. For female dancers, some of the styles are traditional, southern shawl, fancy shawl, and jingle. Besides the fact that male and female dancers rarely compete with each other, except on teams, men and women are segregated by the fact that only male dancers wear bells. Because of this, female dancers use shiny, twisted Copenhagen can lids which they sew close together to create a shuffling sound which mimics a bell.

But there is more to powwows than dancing. While it is the show of many sovereign peoples displaying national pride through the use of bright regalia and fancy dances that brings spectators to powwow grounds, there are also other attractions that keep them. Merchant booths are lined up all around selling goods, many of which are traditional and Native. Some booths target dancers as customers, selling regalia items which are hard to find other places. Other booths sell delicious food, such as frybread, Indian tacos, homemade stew, or lemonade.

Powwows are an essential component of modern-day Native culture. In some ways, they display the tradition, beauty, respect, and honor of the past. In others, they reflect the ever-changing culture through new dances and songs. And in all ways, they create a sense of community and belonging between many tribes, tongues, and nations.

Special Thanks:
Misty Lynn Ellingburg (Shoalwater Bay) is a student at SeattlePacific University, majoring in English (concentration Literature) and minoring in Professional Writing. She has two brothers and two sisters–Brandt, Shana, Hope, and Hunter. Her mom, Lory, is a Tribal artist, and her dad, Todd, is becoming fluent in Salish, a local Tribal language. Her favorite Native writers are Leslie Marmon Silko, LouiseErdrich, and Sherman Alexie. She even met Mr. Alexie in Seattle at a book reading where she got his autograph and a picture taken together.

Types of Abortion

Abortion is a safe and effective medical procedure that ends a pregnancy.  ...

Tips for Forming Deeper Relationships

Relationships, whether they are romantic or platonic, impact our daily lives.  This...

Sexual Orientation: A Spectrum Of Attraction

What I Love About My Body

When I was a teenager there was little to no information about...

Who is Deer Woman from Reservation Dogs?

In “Come and Get Your Love” (Season 1, Episode 5) of the...

Sex Assigned at Birth and Gender Identity: What Is The Difference?

Staying Balanced in College

Keeping a healthy balance between life, school, and work is what everyone...

6 Tips for Applying for Scholarships

Applying to scholarships for college, graduate school, or even summer programs can...

Sexual Orientations Explained: Lesbian, Gay, Heterosexual and Bisexual

How Dancing can Teach you to Love your Body

When it comes to our bodies, dancing can provide confidence and a...

Using Culture to Cope with COVID

COVID has brought more than just physical illness to our communities. It’s...

Becoming Jane Doe

Alara, an Athabaskan and Tlingit transwoman, found her gender identity through drag....

Weird (but normal) Body Facts

Our bodies are amazing and house many secrets! Are you curious to...

6 Questions to Help You Find the Right Birth Control for You

Are you curious about what birth control options are out there? Here...

There’s Heart Here

Roller derby champion. Activist. Cyclist. Follow three indigenous members of the Two...

How to Navigate Health Insurance

Medical visits and procedures, like x-rays, can be expensive. That is why...

PSA This Relationship Advice is Actually Genius

Relationships – whether they are with our family members, friends, or significant...

Saying Yes or No: What Is Consent?

How to Pick the Right College For You

Deciding to go to college is a big decision and one that...

How to Lease Your First Apartment

6 Tips for Renting Your First Apartment  On the lookout for your...

Consent And Communication

Connecting to Our Land is Connecting to Our Culture

Our relationship with the land is a huge part of our culture...

How to Expand Your Networks

Have you ever heard the saying, “It doesn’t matter what you know,...

Consent Explained: What Is It?

Native Women Just Can’t Anymore

Sex can be fun and empowering. However, some of us – especially...

What’s PrEP

PrEP makes preventing HIV easy. But, what is PrEP, and who is...

Top Signs Boys are in Puberty

How to Make Peace With Your Body

Just like plants need sunshine, nutrients, water, and connection to other beings...

Shutting Down Slut Shamers

Enjoying sex or openly expressing your sexuality doesn’t make you a “slut.”...

Top Signs Girls are in Puberty

What you Need to know about your Vagina and Vulva

Have you ever looked at your body and wondered, “Is this normal?”...

Wait what?! That’s what you do with lube?

A little-known fact is that lube can be a real game-changer when...

Taking Care of Your Body During Puberty

Does Size Really Matter?

As a teenager, we’re all consumed with similar worries. From wanting to...

Access to Abortion

The overturning of Roe v. Wade has caused concern about safe access...

Puberty: What Is Doctor Confidentiality?

What is Roe v. Wade?

You might have heard about Roe v. Wade being “overturned.” This article...

How to Use the Pill

The birth control pill (“the pill”) is simple to use and can...

Accessing Sexual Health Care for Minors

The Real Story about Dental Dams

Giving and receiving oral sex can be fun and feel good. But...

How to Use an External (Male) Condom

If you choose to have sex, condoms can protect you and your...

Bodies: Different Shapes and Sizes. All Beautiful!

Heads Up: Sex Must Start with Consent

The idea of having sex can be both exciting and nerve-wracking! You...

Getting Tested for HIV

If you’re thinking about getting tested for HIV, it’s normal to have...

Does Penis Size Really Matter?

Here’s What You Should Know About Body Sovereignty

You may have heard that Tribal Nations have sovereignty. This means that...

Why is fentanyl dangerous?

Everyone is talking about fentanyl, and for good reason; it’s more common...

Menstruation: What To Expect

Internal Condom Instructions

***Remember to always check the expiration date and package of any condom...

Condom Shopping Guide

Get the facts!

Period Hygiene: Tampons, Pads and Menstrual Cups

Tribal Sovereignty is Everything

Tribal sovereignty is important to who we are as Indigenous people, but...

An Advocate Within

Advice from a Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Member Working in Congress...

How the Boner Grows

The Land & Ancestral Wellness Wisdom

Much of our knowledge as Indigenous people comes from the land: our...

Be The Change: Tips for Being an Advocate in Your Tribal Community

Getting involved in local politics and advocating to your tribal government is...

All About Getting Your Period

Self-Love Made Me Do It

When a candle is lit, the fire comes from another source- whether...

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

Your self-esteem is the way you look at, or perceive, yourself. If...

Masturbation: Totally Normal

National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person’s Awareness Day

Indigenous people have long experienced disproportionately high rates of violence compared to...

Environmental Racism and Seeking Environmental Justice

In the 1970s, the Grassy Narrows Reserve in Canada, home of the...

Puberty and Finding Out Who You Are

Resiliency is in Our Blood

Resilience has become a bit of a buzzword in Native Country. A...

Indigenous People for Black Lives Matter

Today as I write this article the world is mourning Daunte Wright,...

The Plants of Your Place

Indigenous Feminism

Creating a world where people of all genders are respected and valued...

Healing the Land is Healing Us

Western colonial ways of thinking about health tend to focus on physical...

Culture is Prevention

Land Back: Because Colonialism Does Not Spark Joy

In the opening scenes of Rutherford Falls, a Native-inclusive TV series launched...

Breaking Trauma Cycles

Ancestral Gifts We inherit many things from our parents, from their parents,...

Culture is Prevention – Sarah

What is the MMIW Movement?

MMIW stands for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It’s a movement that...

Racism and Anti-Racism

Racism impacts all aspects of our lives. It impacts what policies are...

BRAVE: Episode 7

Indigenous Futurism

What would the world look like if tribal supernatural entities ruled? How...

The Judicial Branch

Sometimes, an advocacy group, business, church, or even a group of individuals...

BRAVE: Episode 6

The Executive Branch

After a bill passes both the House of Representatives and the Senate,...

The Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch of the U.S. federal government makes laws. The Legislative...

BRAVE: Episode 5

Advocacy in the Three Branches of Government

The United States federal government is divided into three branches: the Executive...

Lessons From Standing Rock

In 2016, the water protectors at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation created...

Brave: Episode 4

We Are More Than a Mascot

Native American mascots are one of the more controversial topics when it...

Native Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation is when someone from the dominant culture (i.e. the most...

BRAVE: Episode 3

Who is Secretary Deb Haaland?

Deb Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and has...

What is Trauma?

Trauma is a distressing experience that can impact us emotionally, mentally, physically,...

BRAVE: Episode 2

Healing From Trauma

After you experience trauma, it might seem like you will never feel...

Honor Your Needs

To give yourself the energy you need when you face a difficult...

BRAVE: Episode 1

Learn to Identify Your Emotions

Sometimes we can identify our emotions through how our body feels. When...

Learn to Be Present in Your Body

After trauma, we may feel like our mind is caught up in...

Sunhawk / Managing Stress

Finding Balance in Your Day-to-Day Activities

Trauma often throws us off- mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically- but there...

Form Healthy Relationships with Trusted People

Coping with trauma on your own can be difficult. Think of the...

Olivia / Keeping It All Inside

Cope with Things That Remind You of Trauma

Our brains are always scanning the environment for danger. When we have...

Reaching Out For Help

Sometimes the bravest thing we can do when we are struggling is...

Nadira / Reaching Out for Help at College

Managing Our Mental Health

 Mental health is how we think about things and our conscious...

Self-Care

Self-care is key for taking care of ourselves and achieving our life’s...

Maiya / Dealing with Anxiety Attacks

Tips for Moving Beyond Blood Quantum

We know blood quantum, or “how much Native blood you have,” isn’t...

Blood Quantum Blues

“So… how much Native are you?” The dreaded question every Indigenous person...

Kennedy / Seeing Kindness

Indigenizing Your Self-Care

Self-care means taking care of the whole self – physically, emotionally, mentally,...

What Is Tribal Consultation?

Tribes are nations that have the right to make decisions about how...

Kaytlynn / Combatting Stressors

Self-Compassion

Treating ourselves with compassion can have a big impact on the quality...

Chickasaw Spaceman

John Herrington, born in Wetumka, Oklahoma, is an enrolled member of the...

Jowun / Self-Care For Me

Lateral Violence

What is Lateral Violence? Lateral violence- also called internalized colonialism or horizontal...

Indigenous Comic Books

Comics and cartoons have existed for centuries, but it wasn’t until the...

Isis / School Stressors

Protect Your Peace from Toxic Relationships

What does it mean to protect your peace? Protecting your peace means...

Reclaiming Our Stories Through Media and Film

As Indigenous people, we know that storytelling is a powerful teaching tool....

Aurora / Connection

Indigenous Star Stories

When you look up at the night’s sky, what do you see?...

Native Crisis Text Line

Sometimes things are too overwhelming to deal with alone. If you need...

Ashley / Self-Care Looks Different For Everyone

IndigiLOVE Campaign

IndigiLOVE is a campaign designed by tribal youth to spread positivity, share...

Substance Misuse

Substance misuse is a health issue that impacts many people. It is...

#Indigilove Recap Video

Supporting A Loved One

It can be painful watching those we love struggle. We may feel...

Why Do I Keep Saying “Yes?”

You have done it again! You’ve said ‘yes’ to something you don’t...

Siletz DVPI PSA

Coping with Stress

Everyone feels stressed at times, but stress is not always bad. Sometimes...

Eating Disorders

Eating healthy food is an important part of our well-being. After all...

MMIWG (Murdered Missing Indigenous Women and Girls)

Tips for Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep might seem like a waste of time. You could be doing...

Talk About It

Does the idea of giving a friend negative feedback about their behavior...

Life Is Sacred

Cultivating Self-Love

Want to build your confidence, self-esteem, and wellness? It all starts with...

Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships

We all have relationships with a variety of people, including friends, boyfriends,...

Elder Teachings

Spiritual Connection: Being Part of Something Bigger

Do you remember the last time you had an awe-inspiring moment that...

Food as Medicine

Indigenous teachings and ways of living kept our peoples well for centuries....

Defined by my Ancestors, Not Dead Presidents

Indigenizing Movement and Mental Health

Movement is medicine – for our mind, body, and spirit. For our...

Mindfulness Meditation

Sometimes everyday stress can get to you. For some of us, it...

Heart of the Land | Prevent Suicide

Diabetes Awareness

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and November 14 is World Diabetes Day!...

Is My Relationship Healthy?

All relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive with unhealthy...

We R Native Ambassadors

We R Native Ambassadors Class of 2018/2019

Resources for Exploring your Sexual Identity

Your sexual orientation will emerge over time, probably little by little. Don’t...

Tips to Protect Yourself from COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 in our state, threatens our elders, our families,...

Healthy Relationships PSA

 

I’ve got a problem with the boys on my street…

see answer

Find Us

Contest

Powwows

Follow Us

Enter Phone Number to Subscribe:

Msg & Data Rates May Apply.
Text STOP to opt out. No purchase necessary.
Expect 4 msgs/mo.Terms and Conditions

Menu