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Am I allowed to participate in pow-wows?

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  • Am I allowed to participate in pow-wows?

    Halito, Everyone!

    This is my first time posting.

    I am 1/4 Mississippi Choctaw and 3/4 Creole (African and French). I am what most would call a "Black Indian."

    I would LOVE to honor my Choctaw ancestors by wearing my Choctaw regalia and participating in a Grand Entry at a pow-wow. I have attended two pow-wows in the Pacific Northwest this year and did not see anyone dressed in Choctaw regalia. I gotta represent!

    I live in DuPont, WA. My closest relatives are in Oregon. Most of my "Black Indian" relatives are in MS, but are only interested in embracing their African heritage.

    I trace my Indian ancestry through my Mom. My maternal grandfather was full-blood Choctaw.

    I am not enrolled in a tribe. I do not have a tribal card. Am I even ALLOWED to participate in a pow-wow? Would I be accepted as being Native American? I'm surprised how many full-blood American Indians I have met here in Washington who have NEVER heard of the Choctaw people. Will I just be seen as a "wanna-be?"

    Excuse my ignorance, but I don't want to make an attempt to honor my ancestors, only to be hurt and insulted because I do not have a tribal card.

    Yokoke for your assistance!

    Warm blessings,


  • #2
    Welcome Daffodil! I'm sure that someone lurking around here will have some advice for you!

    My advice, as an outsider myself, is to always be humble, there are many things to learn and everyone seems to know the "right way." Listen closely to them, but also pay close attention to those that don't claim to have all the answers as I've found that often they have more to say on a subject than the "experts." Secondly, keep your sense of humor about you. There is often a lot of joking, kidding, ribbing, whatever you want to call it. It's all in fun!

    As far as the tribal card thing, my experience has been that you may only need a card to compete. You *should* be OK to dance at public non-contest powwows and even during intertribals at contest powwows. But I'm not from the NW and therefore don't really know how things are done up there.

    Good luck!
    "It doesn't really matter, they don't know any better anyway."


    • #3
      Woah, slow down a minute!

      I admire your gumption, but slow down! You'll just end up driving yourself crazy!

      There is MUCH to learn. My advise is to volunteer at your local powow and get to know folks, then learn what to do in your folks traditions. Many SE nations are not powwow people traditionally, which is important to remember. Besides, regalia takes years and $$$ and research to put together. As my old man used to say, "Be it big or be it small, do it RIGHT or not at all!"

      Don't take it as a knock, but if you literally work from the ground up, you'll have more sucess. And don't be above working trash detail or the like. Humility goes a long way with NDN folks. Good luck to you and may you find what you are looking for.
      Because of our treaty status, the distinction of being 'Cherokee' is a status of citizenship, not a racial issue.


      • #4

        I don't usually look in this particular forum, but I was bored. I'm choctaw, my mother was born in blackwell oklahoma, but I grew up here in the puget sound area and I have been going to powwows since I was a little girl. When I use to dance I wore a choctaw dress and all people would often not understand where the dress came from and would think I was some kind of wanna be especially since I have light colored skin. So don't feel bad, just try to remeber to smile at those people who look at you funny and don't be afraid to encourage other people to ask questions about your culture. I'm personally tired of people assuming that the only ndnz out there wore buckskin and lived in teepees. I have a choctaw dress maybe I'll start wearing it again.


        • #5
          Last edited by tsuj510; 09-05-2007, 03:50 AM. Reason: tech stuff
          Because of our treaty status, the distinction of being 'Cherokee' is a status of citizenship, not a racial issue.


          • #6
            Originally posted by tsuj510 View Post
            Hey mods, I posted a brief response earlier, it posted then disappeared. Just thought I'd let you know.
            Just a reminder that all posts in this forum are reviewed by the mods before they are displayed. Sometimes Hobbs and I get to them fast - other times it takes longer - sorry for the delay!


            • #7
              Heres a thought, if you are really 1/4th why not contact the tribe and find out if you qualify to apply for tribal enrollment with them??? I grew up in the Northwest and I feel very reluctant for you and your situation. I did not know of the Choctaws either, before making friends with a couple while attending Haskell in Kansas. From my experience and my growing up, racism among us and our community was a big issue, especially with black people. Probably another reason I live in Alaska now. Anyhow, why should you be excluded from participating, once you learn how to properly. It seems that where I'm from down there, its more acceptible for people to be mixed with white blood than black blood, and its a darned shame its like that. Glad to be raising my kids in Alaska, alot less racism.


              • #8

                Thank you to EVERYONE who responded to my post. I sincerely appreciate your encouragement and advice and thoughts.

                I posted my question to another Native American thread and have been told that as long as I am in dressed in regalia and am in the proper place in the 'Grand Entry line-up', I should be fine. I do not need to have a 'tribal identification card' unless I plan to dance in competitions (which I do not. I only want to participate in the 'Grand Entry' in order to honor my Mom, who died suddenly and unexpectedly last year, and my Choctaw ancestors).

                Tjus510: I have spent the last 2 years in communication with the MS Choctaws in order to make sure that I have the proper regalia. I promise you that I will "do it right!"

                It's interesting that people thought you were a 'wanna-be', Coastee. Most people in the Puget Sound area that I have talked with know NOTHING about 'Black Indians' and think that I'm a 'wanna-be'. When my Mom was alive, most people thought she was East Indian or from the Middle East or even Samoan! She had a REALLY difficult time right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks with people verbally harassing
                her. It was VERY sad. The ignorance of so many people still amazes me!

                Warm blessings to all!




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