The Importance of Knowing Pow-Wow Etiquette

O’siyo.Spring is here (almost) and for many Natives this means Pow Wow time! We thought this flyer from North Carolina State University was a very good idea. It explains to non-Natives the terminology pertaining to Pow-Wows, tips for being comfortable during the celebration, and most importantly what is acceptable (and unacceptable) behavior at these very special Native celebrations.

Dancers in the 98th Annual Shiprock Navajo Fair in Shiprock, N.M.

Dancers in the 98th Annual Shiprock Navajo Fair in Shiprock, N.M.

Excerpt:

VOCABULARY & TITLES

Pow-Wow Arena. Photo-- Crystallinks.

Pow-Wow Arena. Photo– Crystallinks.

Arena – dance circle, this area is blessed before the dance and must remain pure throughout the Ceremony.There is a single entrance to the arena facing East, you should not enter the arena unless invited,and this is the only entrance that should be used to enter. This invisible boundary should not be broken at anytime by any one.

Regalia – attire worn by dancers – NOT a costume. The development of a dancer’s regalia is a very personal process. Often items have taken years to create or may be gifts and have deep meaning.

Larry Yazzie, dressed in regalia is the arena  director at the University of Iowa  Pow-Wow.ICTNM

Larry Yazzie, dressed in regalia is the arena director at the University of Iowa Pow-Wow.ICTNM

Navajo dancer Dianna Black  dressed in her beautiful regalia.

Navajo dancer Dianna Black dressed in her beautiful regalia.

Regalia for Little Dancers.  LA Times.

Regalia for Little Dancers. LA Times.

Master of Ceremonies – (MC) officiates over Ceremony proceedings. Guide to the events – pay attention to his announcements.

Master of Ceremonies Randy Edmonds.

Master of Ceremonies Randy Edmonds.

The Drum – the heartbeat of Mother Earth. The drum acts as an agent to bring harmony and balance to participants and to spectators. The drum acts as an intercessor to the spiritual realm.

A Beautiful Ceremonial Drum.

A Beautiful Ceremonial Drum.

Head Man Dancer – lead dancer, he will begin and guide the other dancers through the dance.

Head Woman Dancer – lead dancer, she will begin and guide the other dancers through the dance.

Head Man Dancer Chuck Cadotte with Head Woman Dancer Tina Morales. Photo- California Education.

Head Man Dancer Chuck Cadotte with Head Woman Dancer Tina Morales. Photo- California Education.

 Intertribal Dance – social dance; open to visitors to come join the dancers in celebration.

GENERAL ADVICE

Bring your own seating chairs and benches around the arena is reserved for dancers, seats with blankest or other personal items are taken.

Items left at seats are not to be touched this is a gathering of family there should be no need to guard belongings from each other.

Dress appropriately. Halter tops and short shorts are not appropriate for this celebration.

Pictures may be taken with the permission of the dancers, but not durin dedication dances (Veterans Songs, Flag Songs, or Prayers). These special songs will be announced by the MC.

 NO drugs or alcohol permitted at any time for any reason.

Supervise your children so that all may enjoy the event without distraction.

Animals should not be brought to the event.

Do not litter

RESPECT

Do not touch a dancer’s regalia. These items are made with great care and are often gifts to the dancers from friends and family. They have deep significance and should be respected.

If something falls, leave it. Inform the individual that they have dropped something, and they will go through the proper procedures to retrieve it.

If invited to dance, please do. It is disrespectful to decline, do not worry about not knowing how the person who invited you will teach you.

Listen to the MC, he will let you know when you need to stand and when you may sit after honor songs. He will also announce intertribal dances and other invitations for our guests to participate.

“Pow-Wows are a gathering, a community celebration, a time for nations to come together to share songs and dances, a chance to celebrate your gifts, your heritage, your language, your culture with other Native people…Powwows aren’t part of every Nations’ tradition – in fact, there are hundreds of distinct songs and dances that are very different from powwow styles.” ~ The Great Lakes Powwows~

There are many Pow-Wows throughout the year, and all are beautiful and exciting to behold. Enjoy, learn, and respect.

Category: Pow Wows