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-   -   1 singer took first, 1 dancer took first. who's got more cash? (http://forums.powwows.com/f31/1-singer-took-first-1-dancer-took-first-who-s-got-more-cash-1432/)

pow-wow-wooer 12-19-2001 03:36 PM

1 singer took first, 1 dancer took first. who's got more cash?

This thread is directed to all people on pow-wow committees around the great lakes, and to anyone who is interested as well. How come next to nobody reconizes singing around here as being 2 different styles? Contemp and straight. And for those who run the contests or those who will run them in the future, why are you not creating 2 seperate contests? For those of you who don't know, smoke dancing has took off around here big time, and more and more pow-wows are having them as a part of regular money contests. So no one can say having 2 singing contests is too difficult. The money could be raised. Pow-wows around here are so cheap when it comes to paying singers. Most dance contests have first places consisting of anywhere from 600-1000 dollars! Committees raise this kind of cash not to mention the places below that, for a total of 8 dance styles. Unbelieveble. And the average drum contest around here pays about 2000 for first, give or take a hundred. That is nothing when you split that up between 8-12 singers or depending on how many singers you have. this issue is ignored by the majority of pow-wow committees. Are they trying to say something about singers? That we aren't as talented as dancers, or we don't work as hard? I just want to know what makes us overlooked. Some "Dancer" walks away with a cool grand, and some singers are just having their expenses covered. Not to mention any family they might bring with them. I want to know what people think about these disrespectful acts, and if any "committee" people can answer this, I dare you. But in all probability they won't, cause deep down, everyone knows that the majority of people in committees can't even sing or dance. You know when people say you "can't have a pow-wow without singers or dancers", they don't know how true that is. Sometimes the tolerance practised by singers and dancers is the only thing that keeps some pow-wows together.

And to anybody that wants to reply with a "what ever happened to pow-wow just to pow-wow?" Or "Its not about the money!"
Don't even bother. That is not even the issue here.

Kiwehnzii 12-20-2001 12:30 AM

I totally agree that the drum groups are under-paid. This is a good thought-provoking topic. It should open some eyes.

The powwow committees that I have knowledge of are hard-working individuals who would like nothing more than to increase the honorarium for the singers.

At our community gathering, a singing contest was held with fairly good prize money. The non-placing groups also had a fairly good honorarium. Total payout was around $15,000.00. Total cost to put on the powwow (including food, prize money, etc.) was in the $45,000.00 range.

This coming year, I believe the committee is going to go the invited drums only route with each group receiving equal amounts. It is the only way in which there could be an equitable solution and the singers could all get a little more in their pockets.

They are open to suggestions on how to raise more funds for the
singers. The person who initiated this thread should be able to help with some suggestions and possibly (if he's available) come to the communities who need his expertise and help them out. Of course, food & lodging would be provided. Financial compensation would be out of the question as most committee members that I know of are volunteer basis and do this strictly out of the love of the native culture and of their communities.

If there was a way to raise maybe $15-20,000.00 more it would be great!

Can you help us out? Miigwetch

Smokin' Ace 12-20-2001 10:48 AM

Now this is a good discussion. I have been sitting back for years, watching dancers walk away from pow-wows with a hefty chunk in their pocket after a pow-wow. How did they dance so good to impress the judges and everyone else?? The drum sang a good good song for them - making them want to dance harder. That drum may number 7-15 people. The dancer gets $500.00. So does the drum. Does that make sense???

Pow-wow wooer - $2000??? That is gold considering what pow-wows pay on the East Coast. Most groups that I know of do not sing for the money - that is the truth - but travelling to pow-wows is expensive, especially if you have families travelling together.

It's still a touchy situation, because you want to attract the best dancers - and they want to dance with a good solid drum - so the drum sings hard all weekend - only to get the same amount to be split between an average of 10 people????

And this is not about singing for the money - so let's not go there. But if is about being fair to everyone.

Just adding my 2 cents worth.

Mato Winyan 12-20-2001 11:37 AM

Drum groups are under paid and really under appreciated for the most part. There is alot they are responsible for and not just the next song.
I have traveled with a drum group for going on seventeen years now and have seen alot of good meaning people just not thinking clearly on this matter.
I have seen some great feeds for the drum as I have also witnessed more often than not the famous or infamous "Mystery Stew" made with mystery meat. That isn't right. I have also seen on the other hand where the committee did not want to feed the drum at all.
Now on to the subject of accommodations!!??!! Some committees have said they cannot afford to provide even one motel room for the HOST drum. At one powwow we were offered free camping! This isn't right when they expect you to travel a couple states away for a three day powwow and then only want to pay you five to eight hundred dollars for the whole group plus backup singers. Some of these guys have to take off work to make this event.
No, we are not talking about singing for money. We are not even talking about breaking even at this point. we just like to go and have a good time and not go into debt to finance it.

X49ER 12-20-2001 11:47 AM




pow-wow-wooer 12-20-2001 11:47 AM

Thanks Acey,

Money is not really important, secondary actually.
I know my group will sing pretty much anywhere we're asked to go, its just that our expenses take a hefty toll. And there are groups out there with up to 15 singers. I think alot of committees are stuck in the same old mode, ya know, the same quoted prices for various jobs at the pow-wow. The cost of living is ever increasing, and committees have to respect that. Not all pow-wow people are 9 to 5's, and that shouldn't be held against them. For those Indians who are lucky to have jobs, that still doesn't take away from the fact that is costs money to travel. And any so-called traditionalist that would dispute this obviously doesn't know the meaning of hard-*** work and dedication. You know, there are a few people out there who are totally traditional, and talented at the same time. There always seems to be a really good singer, who is a drunk, or there is somebody who is a traditionalist who doesn't know jack about pow-wows, but thinks they do.

Know what I mean....?:)

CEM 12-20-2001 12:39 PM

Things could be better but I see it as part of the challenge in being a singer. It can be hard.

Sometimes I think the fact that you won't get rich keeps half-hearted singers at home. To me it's better to have 6 guys who really want to sing than to have 15 at the drum and nine of them are there because they found out how much the committee is paying the drum.


Mato Winyan 12-20-2001 12:49 PM

What about the most dedicated singer with a family, bad job (or no job) and no bank account?

Big Chocolate Thunder 12-21-2001 09:43 PM

Well that guy stays home.

chinook1943 12-22-2001 02:00 AM

bold large red pow-wow-wooer:I think u just opened these old eyes, I have been on a committee for a # of years and we are guilty of doing just that , not thinking of the people who actually help the dancer look good.The drums should get paid better than the dancers because it takes two to tango.If there were a set number of singers to each drum it would be easy to pay the drums their dues but how can u justify paying one drun who has 10 singers the same as a drum with 14 singers?:Help :Help :Help

Smokin' Ace 12-22-2001 02:34 AM

If I may - I believe when pow-wow wooer began this thread, it wasn't solely for bi***ing, but to bring this discussion to the table - and I think many people have alot of good imput. There have been some very good questions here, and I think people are learning about the importance of a good drum - making the dancers look all the better thru good dancing, making people feel better with their gift of song.

But here's something else - I have worked on several pow-wow committees - it is a hard decision on the price to pay a drum - some people you can afford - some you cannot - but there are other things that can be done to make that drum want to visit you again, and it doesn't just fall on the pow-wow commitees shoulders. Most pow-wows are held in communities or by organizations right? Well, just like you have a guest in your home, your hope is that that guest will feel good enuff to want to visit you again, and tell his frens how fine he was treated in your presence. To me, that is all any good drum asks too. And that is one of the highest compliments to an organization, that a drum will WANT to come back to your event year after year.

So to all the pow-wow committee people - here's a question: Can you honestly say that you put on such an event that drums don't need to be invited, they just come to sing, knowing they will be treated good? There are a few pow-wows I personally know of that can say yes, hands down! What do they do that makes you feel like coming back?

Number one, they let you sing. They don't take up the whole pow-wow with other agendas - they actually let you sing.

Number two - they take care of you - bringing water, beverages. Asking if they need anything. We recently went to Tullahoma Tennessee (KTNJ) - the pow-wow was :dontknow: but the arena director and others kept asking if we needed anything - because it was cold and we were the only drum for a while, they brought coffee and hot chocolate to the drum. That kept everyone happy.

Arrange for housing - of some sort - this is for host drums mostly - but usually there is a "host/guest" hotel set aside to accomodate the groups. It does fall on the shoulders of the drums to make the arrangements, but shame on committees who do not have a host hotel of some sort!!!!!!!!! This is so easy to do, and helps so much. One of the glorious things about pow-wowing is being able to see your fellow pow-wowers in the halls or at the hotel restaurants. Helps develop that sense of family.

And the money is important - just to show your appreciation of their singing. At pow-wows where there is no money for drums alloted - (non-comp. and a host and guest are already paid), a blanket dance is appropriate for the other visiting drums. When you are thinking about a host drum, think of their singers, how long they will be there (day and night sessions), their travel time. If you have a limited budget - tell the drum you want what you can pay, and be honest - it may be that arrangements can be made to satisfy all.

Remember - the key to committees and communities is having that drum WANT to come back to your event next year. That's how the best pow-wows have been able to survive year after year - those good pow-wow feelings.

Have a good evening! And Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! ;):c1:

chinook1943 12-22-2001 04:28 AM

:D :D TY smoking ace i could not have said it better :1Party: :band:

tigger 12-22-2001 03:29 PM

one of the drums that i sing on, we only go just to sing, and if the pow wow doesn't have a good feeling to it we don't go back. it's not about the money for us.

the other one, well, they only go where their invited and are paid enough for hotel, gas and food. i don't agree with them on this but i go with them when i can. they do it for the money.


travelingmocs 01-07-2002 08:57 PM

I have read thease post several severeal times. I have tried to come up with something smart to say. Well I figured something out. if you look a lot of people who sing also dance. Look at people like Joe Fish DuePoint, Johnathan WindyBoy, Wade Baker. They are several people who sing and dance, and make lots of money.

So dance too, and I am not trying to say that to be a smart a** but offering a view. So have a good one..............TMS

Beth 01-07-2002 09:49 PM

In the dinosaur age, we were taught if you were a dancer and had a few extra bucks on you contest or not, you put money on the drum to say thank you for the good music you danced to.
I don't see a lot of this any more. It can be no more than a dollar or even change. The change usually went to the ladies. (Kids always want change from moms.) Committees can always send food home with the singers that have to travel distances. Nibble food always is good. Fewer full meal stops and maybe some left over for home. Have seen some horrendous treatment of droms over the years.

Nagi 01-08-2002 11:51 AM

Re: drums

Originally posted by Beth
In the dinosaur age, we were taught if you were a dancer and had a few extra bucks on you contest or not, you put money on the drum to say thank you for the good music you danced to.
I don't see a lot of this any more.

I'm definitely not a drummer <grin> and only a passable dancer. I never thought too much about what drums get paid until reading this thread, but I've never been on a committee, either. I have, however, listened to a local committee deliberate for weeks over hiring a drum and how this drum wanted $XXXX and they really only had $XXX and so on and so forth. Frankly, I don't think that committee did the math either, now that I think about it. Another point where that committee missed the boat was that it does not do a committee give away, another opportunity to "thank" the drums with gifts they can use or put in the pot for their own give aways.

It's kind of a dog chasing it's own tail, though. If you don't have a drum, do you have a powwow? I can see the MC now ... "Folks, the next set will be played on the Panasonic system from the new CD by Tha Tribe, followed by an intertribal featured on the Sony, afterwhich we'll have a short intermission and flute concert played on my car stereo!"

However, the dog can chase in two directions. What if you had several drums taking turns singing and nobody danced? How long would your crowd (the main source of revenue for most powwow committees) stay?

Beth has a VERY valid point in that folks don't seem to put money on the drums any more. My sister and I work with a youth dance group. We do try to teach them that any money they're given for dancing should be given to whatever drum played that song. We do have a couple kids good enough that they occasionally receive a few dollars here and there and that DO go up and thank the drum for the song. We see more folks walking out of the circle counting their loot than paying the drum, though.

As to raising money, I think a lot of that is going to depend on where you live. We'd love to teach our youth team to plan and hold a traditional powwow in our city. That means getting a lot of donations for give away gifts, traditional prizes, etc. We live in a metropolis area of about 500,000 people, very few of which are Native. Most businesses give nothing because they don't see how it will benefit their business. Those businesses that do give something give minimally for the most part.

So, in essence, I think it's a matter of give and take. We need to teach each other and especially the young ones to honor the drums, even if it means they skip that $5 souvenier or Indian taco. We need to find ways to compensate other than money ... maybe packing up X number of "lunch buckets" with enough food in each one to feed one drum's worth of people, and give them to the drums just for playing all day. If you pick the right kinds of foods, it won't have to be refrigerated so they can eat it at the powwow OR on the way home. If money is an issue (and it is for my family sometimes), make "singer" packages that have throat lozenges, a coozie to insulate a water bottle, etc.). For what I blow at a powwow, I could gift at least one drum with usable items just shopping at the Dollar store.

In the same respect, I hope the drums and singers will be patient with the rest of us while we change our attitudes and habits!


Smokin' Ace 01-08-2002 12:10 PM

It makes me feel good that this thread is still alive - I truly beleive it has opened up a lot of peoples eyes and just made them think. Make no mistake about it - singers sing because they love to sing and they want their people to dance. Seeing a dancer really jam makes a singer sing all the harder. But after singing hard all weekend - having no voice left at all - the singers will accept whatever gift the committee has to offer - just to thank them for singing - a monetary gift is used for travelling back home and eating on the way - and if any extra is made - it is placed in a savings account so that the singers can travel to more pow-wows, enabling more people to experience their sound. It's an ongoing cycle. Back in the day, before my husband and I were married, it didn't matter how much it cost to get us and the group to a pow-wow. If the group didn't have any money saved up, we would take it out of our pockets. No biggie. But this caused way too much confusion.

We don't do this anymore. We have a family now - if the group doesn't have money saved, we don't travel. Real simple. Which is real hard - when you are used to pow-wowing all the time and you know what you are doing is good - you want to continue - but you have to be able to provide for your family, first and foremost. It's just plain economics.

And I, like many others on this thread, have seen drums treated like red headed step children. But that hasn't stopped anyone from singing - just makes you pick and choose your pow-wows more selectively.

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