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A Pow Wow Reunion

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  • A Pow Wow Reunion

    Posted by Blackbear

    She knew she was running late but just couldn’t help it. The cars in front of her on her way to the powwow should have been paying attention to the road and not the car that was pulled over for a ticket. The one in front slowed down to do his rubbernecking and the one behind him didn’t see him slow down and rear ended him. Now she found herself pulling on her leggings and moccasins in a frantic pace to make grand entry.

    Her hair was a bit disheveled and really needed to be re-braided, but there just wasn’t enough time. It would have to be done for the contest but after grand entry she could have one of her friends help her out while the other dancers did their specials. Her thoughts turned to the accident again and was feeling slightly irked that she decided to be a, “good Samaritan “and be a witness for the police report, but figured what comes around goes around and decided to just finally push it out of her mind and concentrate on dancing. And now all dancers were being called for Grand Entry and she still wasn’t quite ready.

    The young dancer’s name was Lisa and she didn’t have to travel far to the powwow since she lived only 5 miles away. She knew most of the people attending and greetings were made at every turn. It made her smile to see friends from out of town and out of state making it once again to this annual event. She wanted so badly to run over and hug them but that would have to wait for a little while.

    Grabbing her shawl, she hastily makes her way to her place in the long line of dancers just in time, and in a blur of flash and color began to dance into the arena. Now everything else that has happened today just disappears. She gets lost in the beat of the big drum as she turns and swirls, a flurry of colored ribbon and shiny beadwork. Her foot touches the earth with each beat of the drum that now matches the beats of her heart.

    The song ended and the opening ceremonies began with the flag song and prayer. When that was done, Lisa made her way over to her friends and the happy greetings took place with many hugs. It had been too long they all agreed and found themselves a place where they could all sit together in-between intertribals and fancy shawl specials. They had a small amount of time to catch up on a years’ worth of news and gossip while the tiny tots made their way to the circle.

    Lisa felt small eyes burning a hole through her and turned to the small boy standing aside her waiting impatiently for her to quit talking. “What do you want?” Lisa said with a little annoyance in her voice.

    “Candy!!” the boy replied. “Mom said to bug you for some candy!” Lisa smiled and said, “I gave you two dollars this morning before I left? Have you spent that already?”

    The little boy was her 8 year old brother, the baby of the family and even though at times could be a big pest, his sister adored him.

    “No, but I can’t find it.” He replied. Lisa pulled him closer to her and felt around in his pockets and pulled out the two dollars she had stuffed in there that morning with the instructions of not to spend it all before lunch. A smile washed over his face and he dashed off towards the vendors, with visions of ring pops and sour skittles dancing in his eyes.

    The day went on with special after special. The junior dancers first and the seniors and finally it was time for the teen fancy shawl special. Lisa arose from her seat with her friends as their anticipation grew and found their starting point within the dance circle. A strong northern beat permeated the air along with the powerful vocals of the singers and once again she felt like everything else just disappeared. A step forward, a step back and then a graceful spin as colorful shawls twirled and resembled the beautiful butterflies that inspired the style of dance. Outfits hand made with much care and pride full of bright color and at times a touch of something flashy, could not ever overshadow the beauty of the beautiful young women who made those shawls and beadwork come alive. As the song ended, each of those carefully beaded moccasins stopped on a dime. Lisa and her friends smiled and complimented each other as they made their way back to their seats. Each one of them had danced hard and danced well and they knew it.

    Dancers and drums alike stopped for a much needed lunch break. Old friends gathered together to talk of the years past and the youth of today. Many visited the vendor booths hoping to find something they didn’t already have or perhaps a nice present for a loved one who was unable to travel to the powwow with them. Lisa sat back with her friends, eating fry bread and trying not to get any powdered sugar on her skirt. She knew the day was already half over and after tomorrow they would all be going back home, but tried not to think about that. Her attention turned back to the conversation at hand, about who had steady boyfriends now and who didn’t, about who was going to “snag” that handsome chicken dancer tonight at the “9’.

    Lunch break was now over and the dancers put on those parts of their dancing clothes that they had removed for lunch. The MC was calling, “EVERYBODY ON THE DANCE FLOOR!” in that singsong voice he was well known for. “IT’S TIME FOR AN INTERTRIBAL!!! EVERYBODY DANCE!!!”. The drum once more rose up with that fierce beat that gets the blood excited and the feet moving, with the singers’ voices piercing through the air. Dancers flooded the floor dancing to the beat. Southern straight dancers, northern traditionals, fancy war dancers, cloth, buckskin, jingle and shawl all at the same time with the men’s feet stomping and the women’s fringes swaying. With each honor beat a fan or stick raised and a head bowed.

    A men’s traditional song was called and the ladies left the circle. Lisa found her mother and little brother and took a seat beside them. After letting her mother know that she would not be home till later after the powwow she asked her how her dancing was looking. Lisa’s mom replied, “You’re the best one out there of course. These other girls aren’t as good of dancers or as pretty as you.” Mom always said something like this and then would jokingly nit pick the other girls outfits as Lisa would giggle and tell her mom that those other girls were her friends and they danced as well as she did, sometimes better. Her mom just gave a mischievous grin and said, “Get on back over to them then. You have another special coming up here soon.” A quick kiss and hug and Lisa headed back to where her friends were.

    The rest of the day was filled with dance specials, honor dances, bad MC jokes and even a smoke dance exhibition by some folks from Iroquois country. A giveaway was held for a 10 year old boy who was entering the dance circle as a northern traditional dancer. He was only a kid, but he took his dancing quite seriously and his parents beamed with joy as the feather was placed in his roach headdress. Lisa was a friend of the family and had helped the boy’s mother with much of the beadwork, so she was called down and thanked by the family as she received a handsome wool blanket. Lisa was just happy to see the boy fully dressed and dancing his heart out.

    As the powwow drew close to the end, winners of the contest were announced one by one in each category. She placed only second but wasn’t disappointed because she knew her competition was tough and being friends with her competition only made her happy to see one of them place first. Later they would all tease her about buying them dinner with her prize money.

    A final intertribal was called and many tired but happy dancers poured into the circle for the one last dance. A prayer finalized the closing ceremonies and it was done. People everywhere were packing up their dance clothes, and chairs. Many hugs and kisses were given as children were gathered together, some having to be pulled from beneath the bleacher seats. Committee people picked up trash and folded chairs while others rolled up microphone cords and packed up the sound system.

    Lisa and her friends agreed to meet at a local restaurant for a burger before heading back to their hotels and homes. In the morning, those from out of town would be back on the road and gone and it would be another year before Lisa would see them again, but as always they promised to keep in touch which they always did. They talked about maybe this year they could save a bit and maybe all meet up at one of the large powwows in the south where competition would be even steeper and dancers would be numerous.

    She hugged her friends goodbye. Tears were streaming down their cheeks and they laughed about messing up their makeup. It had been another good year and another good powwow. They made their ways back to the hotels and Lisa got in her car and headed home. She would go to bed that night dreaming of the events of the day, reliving the joy and exhilaration all over again.
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