Hello Auntie! I want to become a northern traditional dancer, but I’m not sure what is required to do so? Do I need to get a status card/enrollment in my tribe?
Yeah for you!
The first thing I would encourage you to do is to get a mentor. This person can help guide you through all the things you’ll need to get started. They can coach you on regalia making, dancing with the traditions of style, meaning, and etiquette. Though you might ask family first about regalia, there may be certain traditional regalia that can be passed down before you think about making your own.
If your mentor is part of the powwow circuit they can help you get registered and learn about the things behind the scenes. Indian Country is a small world and we tend to work by talking to folks. For example, they may let you in on some secrets like, ‘if you talk to ‘so-and-so’ it’s easier to get registered than by using the website’.
Do Your Homework! – aside from talking with your mentor, family, and others who powwow, you can check out a great website that my friend Melonie from Gathering of Nations suggested for you. The website is called Powwows.com. They give you advice on all kinds of stuff like the basics, including etiquette. They’ve also got music, video’s, info on dance styles, along with a lot of other great stuff.
Getting Registered – when you feel comfortable enough to start dancing at powwow’s look for small local events to get started. There will usually be a one-page registration sheet and sometimes a small registration fee. You’ll register by age and dance style. You’re usually required to dance in the Grand Entry, sometimes they do this twice a day like at Gathering of Nations.
Enrollment Card – most powwow’s won’t ask for your enrollment card to dance. However, if this is something you want to do, you can Google your tribes website and look for ‘enrollment requirements’ or give them a call. Usually it’s providing your birth certificate, filling out an application, and paying a small fee.
The best advice I could give you, would be to practice, practice, and practice. Practice whenever you get the chance. Powwow songs usually last for about 3 minutes and 30 seconds, which may not seem long, but will have your lungs and legs on fire by the end of it. Melonie at Gathering says, “The best way to start is to just get your outfit together and get started dancing. The more you do it the more comfortable it gets”.
You can also start out with dancing the intertribals until you feel comfortable enough to move to the Traditional category.
I hope this helps and best of luck! Send us some photo’s when you get up and running. 🙂