2024 Annual Pow Wow
Sponsored by the Culture Committee
What is a Pow Wow?
A Pow Wow is a gathering of Native Americans who come together to Dance, celebrate, pray, laugh, socialize and honor their culture through Song and Dance.
Pow Wows may be sponsored by a Tribal organization, a Native American community, a Native American college student organization or any other organization that may provide funding to sponsor the event. Planning for a Pow Wow generally begins months, or even a year, in advance by a group of people usually referred to as the Pow Wow Committee. The Pow Wow Committee consists of individuals who do all the planning prior to the event. This year’s NHBP Pow Wow was organized and sponsored by the NHBP Culture Committee.
Pow Wow Etiquette and Reminders
What the Dancers are wearing is called “Regalia” and not a costume. We hand make everything that we Dance in and do not consider it to be a costume. A costume would be similar to what one would buy during the Halloween season.
Please be respectful of the Pow Wow Grounds and the Dance arena. If you see trash, pick it up and throw it away. Absolutely no alcohol or drugs are allowed throughout the entire Pow Wow Grounds.
No pets are allowed across the foot bridge! If you bring your animals, please keep them on a leash and away from the Dance arena.
Listen to the MC
The MC will inform you about what is going on at all times. He or she will inform you of what Dances are taking place, if you are invited to join, and will share a bit of knowledge about the Dance. He or she will inform you of any announcements from officials, weather updates, etc.
The MC will also let you know when it is appropriate to take photos. If you are interested in taking a photo of a Dancer, please ask permission first.
Please be considerate of others while sitting in the bleachers. If you see a blanket on a bleacher, please leave it there – as a Dancer and their family have reserved a seat for themselves using the blanket. The first row of bleachers is reserved for Dancers, Veterans, Elders and those with disabilities.
Many times we will invite the public to come and Dance with us – especially during Inter-Tribal Songs. Come and Dance, but be sure to wear appropriate clothing and be respectful while Dancing. Men, please wear your shirts at all times; women, please do not wear revealing clothing.
Do not come into the arena barefoot. One should have moccasins or shoes on.
The Sacred Fire is similar to a Prayer Fire in which we use Séma (Tobacco) for prayer. All four Medicines are present: Séma (Tobacco), Sweet Grass, Cedar and Sage. All are forms of cleansing and are meant to clear negative energies.
Sacred Fire Etiquette:
- Please remove eyeglasses as a form of respect to the spirit of the Medicines.
- We do not put anything in the Sacred Fire, other than the Medicines.
- If a woman is on her moon time, she should stay outside of the fire arbor.
- Anyone who has consumed alcohol or recreational drugs within the last four days should stay outside of the fire arbor.
- No photos, please!
Pow Wow Roles
The Drum is considered the heartbeat of the Neshnabék (Native American, or the first species lowered to Earth). The Host Drum of the Pow Wow is a Drum group primarily responsible for providing music for the Dancers. The Host Drum is responsible for Singing the Songs at the beginning and end of a Pow Wow.
Throughout the weekend the Master of Ceremonies will share the meaning of the Songs for those in attendance. There are several other invited Drum groups who are Singing at this year’s NHBP Pow Wow.
Master of Ceremonies (MC) & Arena Director
The MC will explain everything that is happening inside of the Dance arena. They work alongside the Arena Director – who makes sure that everything is going the way it should. One of the main duties of the Arena Director is to ensure that the Dance arena is treated with proper respect from visitors and
participants of the Pow Wow. Together, they will make sure Dancers are Dancing during the Pow Wow and will make sure the Drum groups know what type of Songs to Sing.
The Head Veteran makes sure that all of the Flags are represented and carried in by other Tribal Veterans. He or she will also carry in the NHBP Tribal Eagle Staff and ensure that proper etiquette is observed
throughout the weekend.
The Head Dancers consist of the Head Male and Female Dancer and sometimes a committee may want to choose a Head Male and a Female Junior Dancer, as well. The Head Dancers are the first Dancers to start each Dance. They also lead the other Dancers in the Grand Entry. Many times, the other Dancers will not enter the arena unless the Head Dancers are already out Dancing. The Head Dancers are chosen by their ability and knowledge of the Dances and Songs.
Pow Wow Dances
Women's Traditional Dance
Women’s Traditional Dance requires grace, stamina and concentration. Women move their feet in time with the Drum keeping them close to the ground. The Women’s Traditional
Regalia will usually include a fringed shawl, which is folded over one arm and represents the nurturing mothers provide for their families.
They may also carry an awl knife case on the belt and an Eagle feather fan. Their Regalia will feature beautiful beadwork, which is usually created by the Female Dancer, with colors and designs that reflect their Nation and Clan affiliation. Most of the patterns seen around Midwestern states are those of floral designs and woodland colors.
Men's Traditional Dance
This is the oldest form of Dance throughout Indian Country. Men’s Traditional Dancers will wear a single bustle containing Eagle feathers, which are considered sacred to Indian people. While Dancing, it is said that their movements represent hunting and battling an enemy. Several items worn represent their own personal story and Tribal Nation. They also will wear items that reflect what was worn by early warriors such as: A breast plate made of animal bones or a shell for protection against arrows; a neck choker for protection against knives; ankle bells or deer hooves; and a shield made of hide with their Nation designs and Clan added to them.
Men's Grass Dance
This Dance comes from the Umaha – or Omaha people – and is said to signify the movements of tall grass. While looking for a site, the Dancers would Dance in a special way to flatten very high grass and make it acceptable for a gathering site. The Grass Dance is often said to reflect the need for balance in life; meaning each movement that is Danced on one side must be repeated by the other side. The Men’s Grass Dancers will wear Regalia made of long strands of yarn, ribbon or fabric, attached to a base outfit to represent grass. Just like other Dances, the Dancers keep in time with the Drum and must move with the beats of the Drum ending with both feet on the ground on the final beat.
Women's Jingle Dress Dance
This Dance comes from the northern Minnesota area and was introduced to the other Indian communities by the Ojibwa people. The story about the jingle dress says a medicine man’s granddaughter was very ill. He had a dream in which a spirit wearing the dress came to him and told him to make one of these dresses and put it on his granddaughter to cure her. When he awoke, he and his wife proceeded to assemble the dress, as described by the spirit in his dream. When the dress was finished, they brought his granddaughter to the Dance and she put the dress on.
During the first circle around, she needed to be carried. As she began to complete the second circle around the room, she could barely walk, and several women had to assist her while she began to walk slowly. During the third circle, she could walk without any assistance, and during the fourth circle around the room, she Danced. The dress, today, is known as a healing dress and is made of cloth with jingles attached to it which are made from snuff lids. Most dresses have 365 cones on them, which represents the yearly cycle. While making a dress, one is to say a prayer for each cone – adding one cone to the dress for each day of the year. In Michigan, the dress was introduced into the Pow Wow setting in the 1980s – before then, the dress was only worn and used in lodge Healing Ceremonies.
Women's Fancy Shawl Dance
The Women’s Fancy Shawl Dance is one of the more modern Dances. Some say the Dance was originally called the Blanket Dance as women Danced with a blanket or shawl covering their heads. The Dance was called the Graceful Shawl Dance in the 1960s and the Dance steps were closer to the ground and smaller than what is performed today. Some also say the Dance represents a story about a butterfly that lost its mate and went into mourning, but had returned after mourning as a beautiful, vibrant butterfly.
The Dance is very athletic and strenuous, involving kicks, twirls and fast movements. The women Dance with beautifully decorated shawls, including long ribbon or fabric fringe. They also wear beautifully beaded moccasins with leggings to match. The detail in their beadwork is amazing and represents their Tribal affiliation, Clan or family.; ankle bells or deer hooves; and a shield made of hide with their Nation designs and Clan added to them.
Men's Fancy Dance
The Men’s Fancy Dance is one of the most strenuous and athletic Dances. To be good at this Dance, one must have a lot of energy and plenty of stamina. The Dancers will wear two bustles with bright colored feathers, horse hair hackle, as well as bright arm and head bands using the same colors. The Dance was an old war Dance, and tells stories about the war times and battles.
The Dancers also wear a broach trimmed in colored horsehair and featuring two Eagle feathers. The broach is designed to keep the feathers rocking back and forth. The Dancers will keep moving so that the two feathers move constantly throughout the Song. The Dancers also carry coup sticks, which are highly decorated with ribbons and feathers. The coup stick was originally a small stick carried into battle by a warrior.