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  • Powwow Indians

    I recently met with an interviewer from National Public Radio (NPR) in order to give background information for a program on "The Economy and Powwows" that aired two weeks ago.

    In this interview, I expressed, "powwow is a way of life for some Native people." Due to advances in communication and travel, drums and dancers can now participate in California, Oklahoma, Alberta and Connecticut all in the same month. Top powwow competitors are not equally affected by the economy as individuals who do not participate in contests because contest prize money allows top competitors to continue travelling.

    Then we discussed the down side of powwows.

    There are many tribal elders and ceremonial leaders who view powwows as competing for their tribal members for participation in ceremonies and other important community activities/obligations.

    It is sad to say, powwows DO take Native people away from tribal obligations that require work, time, dedication and most importantly, sacrifice. Some top competitors attend their own tribal ceremonies, some don't.

    Do you think my statements are valid?
    Last edited by WhoMe; 10-08-2008, 04:39 PM.
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

  • #2
    Originally posted by WhoMe
    Do you think my statements are valid?
    You say, "Pow-wow", but don't distinguish whether you mean 'contest' or 'ceremonial/social' dance.

    I think that the open 'ceremonial/social' dances DO promote healthy and nurturing tribal/inter-tribal fulfillment. They bring us together and re-charge our spirits.

    I see 'contest' dances as entertainment events we pay to view. I love going to movies and concerts. 'contest' dances are the same. I like to go see them, too. But, when they try to mix social/ceremonial (like Gourd Dancing) aspects into that type of pay-per-view dance then it seems out of place.

    From this perspective, I think that 'ceremonial/social' dances have a purpose apart from the 'contest' dances. Folks will attend and participate in one or the other or both. They are not similar. Each has a place.
    Scott Zotigh
    Kiowa Black Leggings
    Kiowa Gourd Clan
    Kiowa Tiah Piah
    Kiowa Marine Veterans
    American Indian Veterans

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    • #3
      Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
      It is sad to say, powwows DO take Native people away from tribal obligations that require work, time, dedication and most importantly, sacrifice. Some top competitors attend their own tribal ceremonies, some don't.

      Do you think my statements are valid?

      Your statements are generally valid. Some see powwows as participating in tribal activities, some tribal doings have been replaced by powwows. I think if powwows are becoming an epidemic within our communities then maybe the tribal councils should get together and establish tribal ceremonies/doings and thier importance before supporting powwows...is it that serious? NO. I don't think it is.
      I think it's ironic to stay powwows, something in which we celebrate our cultures, is taking natives away from tribal obligations...I could say it's my tribal obligation to get out there to as many powwows as possible and share my Style of dancing with everyone....
      Some could say the same thing about churches...or the corporate world...there are many OTHER things that take natives away from their tribal obligations.

      Just my thoughts

      I'd like to hear that interview WhoMe...I love your perpsective on our world ;)
      *BE EASY*

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      • #4
        Maybe smaller tribes with fewer member might be feeling the loss of their member to powwows. But for bigger tribes I don't think that is the case.

        My tribe's ceremonial ways are completely separate from powwow. And there are plenty of us to go around. There are times when you as a tribal member and more importantly family member must sacrifice your attendance at some big pw, to attend to ceremonial needs. For me that choice is very clear.

        And I too would like to hear your interview on NPR. I listen to NPR everyday to and from work!!!! Bummer I missed it.
        Last edited by kiyaanii mom; 10-09-2008, 07:05 PM.

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        • #5
          Where do I start?

          I'm just a young fella but I've been around for a little bit. I've yet to see someone who leads a tribe and or band in ceremonies and or spiritual gatherings to be big in the pow wow scene? Taking away from our tribes and or tribal needs seems a little far fetched. People who are chosen by higher needs to be leaders for our people Most of the time dont have the choice of leaving for a pow wow or a round dance or something? They have obligations to the people to be there and lead in what they were chosen for? Now that is how I see it with my people? Everyone has there place family leaders in prayer no matter what relegion it is Long House, SHaker House, Sun Dance? Regardless of what it is you follow you except the responsibilty as well as any other leaders for your tribe or band? Like Chiefs, Chairman, Tribal Leaders?

          With all of that said your either chosen to lead your family and or band in prayer, that's your sacrifice and it's not one that you take just because it's there. It's something that you put your life into and you sacrifice for it because it's what your heart wants!

          Then there's crazy kids like me that just wanna pow wow because that's what makes my heart feel good!

          Long story short, sorry for wasting your time. **Everyone Has There Place?**

          **~DThundersLeadSinga~**

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          • #6
            I come from a huge powwow family and in turn am raising alla my kids tha same way... everyone of my kids is decked out head to toe in the best beadwork I can do and the best outfits and each wins all over... I also come from a big sundance family and my husband come from a very tradish Hopi family... our kids are doing everything and are better for being huge powwow kids.... I know it helped me to meet all kinds of new people... you learn so many new things and differentways.... I moved to WA when I was about 17 and Iwas a jingler... I got to see how they do their shaker and long house and was even taken in by a family from Warm Springs... met lotsa new friends that Im still close with today .... Ive been to Canada and the plains where our powwows are traditional and in my opinion ran the very best.... living in az we have the opportunity to travel almost year round.... Im greatful for the opportunity to have my kids so involved in powwow... we have friends and family all over ..... in a society that still thinks we all live in tipis my kids have a repect for our culture and how to act at powwows ...they are obsessed with going to rodeos.... or basketball .... they have a balance and know that being ndn comes first.... If anyone thinks that there is a negative side to being a powwow ndn than I feel bad for you.... and wish you could have the same thing most of us hard core powwowers have....

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            • #7
              It all depends on the individual and their values. I happen to love contest powwows. I think it makes the dance so much more exciting; however, I put all that aside when our ceremonial dances begin. With that said, I don't know of any tribal leaders (in my Oklahoma area) that would leave their responsibilities for a powwow. Within this last year my tribe has opened up to the powwow world and hosted 2 new contest powwow events. We also have very strong traditions and ceremonial dances that could never be replaced by contest powwows. It does annoy me when ndns look down their nose at contest powwows as commercial. The competition is mainly for fun and it draws in dancers from other tribes.
              We will be known forever by the tracks we leave..Dakota leader.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by amarie49 View Post
                It all depends on the individual and their values. I happen to love contest powwows. I think it makes the dance so much more exciting; however, I put all that aside when our ceremonial dances begin. With that said, I don't know of any tribal leaders (in my Oklahoma area) that would leave their responsibilities for a powwow. Within this last year my tribe has opened up to the powwow world and hosted 2 new contest powwow events. We also have very strong traditions and ceremonial dances that could never be replaced by contest powwows. It does annoy me when ndns look down their nose at contest powwows as commercial. The competition is mainly for fun and it draws in dancers from other tribes.

                Times change and it has gotten so expensive to travel that you have to take money into account.... we spend about $300 just for gas alone so it has gottent o tha point where if you luv to powwow and want to go to the next one its important to win.... otherwise you cant afford to hit up tha next one.... when Iwas younger we used to just head out with just enough money for gas to get there and then use our winnings to get home....lol... you have to have a lot more these days.... and where Im from InSD we take care of our visitors better...just like in OK where you guys have camps to take care of the people....not so almost everywhere else....

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                • #9
                  The only downside I see to the powwow world is not enough time and not enough money to hit the powwows I've missed so far.
                  We will be known forever by the tracks we leave..Dakota leader.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LakotaSiouxper View Post
                    Times change and it has gotten so expensive to travel that you have to take money into account.... we spend about $300 just for gas alone so it has gottent o tha point where if you luv to powwow and want to go to the next one its important to win.... otherwise you cant afford to hit up tha next one.... when Iwas younger we used to just head out with just enough money for gas to get there and then use our winnings to get home....lol... you have to have a lot more these days.... and where Im from InSD we take care of our visitors better...just like in OK where you guys have camps to take care of the people....not so almost everywhere else....
                    Oh yeah, I know what you mean. Sometimes we barely scrape by in the summer because its torture to stay home when theres a good powwow goin on. It definately helps to win! We're fortunate in Oklahoma because of the back to back powwows we don't have to travel too far; however, we want to go so much farther.....one of these days- I tell myself when the kids are older and can help me drive we will go to all the big ones.
                    We will be known forever by the tracks we leave..Dakota leader.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kiyaanii mom View Post
                      Maybe smaller tribes with fewer member might be feeling the loss of their member to powwows. But for bigger tribes I don't think that is the case.

                      My tribe's ceremonial ways are completely separate from powwow. And there are plenty of us to go around. There are times when you as a tribal member and more importantly family member must sacrifice your attendance at some big pw, to attend to ceremonial needs. For me that choice is very clear.

                      And I too would like to hear your interview on NPR. I listen to NPR everyday to and from work!!!! Bummer I missed it.


                      I am with you on that K-mom, there are plenty of us...LOL. But if there is a ceremonial need or something, yes, we won't powwow. But our traditional side is more on a private side that we just take care of on our own, then its off to the next powwow. Mostly powwows for us, is not the competition, its about the singing and dancing. The lil one was given a gift and has gone through the years nurturing his gift. He is out there for a reason, not money, (even though its nice) but he can live with out it. He is the most humble kid I know he's just happy when he dances hard, feels good about it, and more happy when he can make someone else feel better. Also, powwows is about seeing old and dear good friends, even with the cell phone use and internet communications, not all the time we can get a hold of people. So I usually know, hey this person or that person may be at the next powwow, let's just go visit.....:D. But, me, with the job I do, I love to travel and its powwows that I like to travel too all across the country or Canada.

                      Also, when I see a tribal council member or a Chief at the powwow, it also tells me that maybe this person does really care about the powwow community too. I don't see it as getting away from a job, its about networking and trying to understand a part of Native life either they love or trying to get to know. Business is not just about being at the desk 9-5 every day, a good business person and a leader will get out there for the people. I'd be questioning my leaders if there were in council 40 hours a week not even talking to the people or being like a hermit. And thats exactly how I run my business too, being out there, communicating with clients/friends, making networking contacts, etc. So to me powwow is work to me too. :D. Plus being part of the headstaff is fun too, its very busy, but I like busy.

                      Then there are powwow families where most of the dancers/singers are good enough that they can bring home the bacon almost every weekend. I know alot of them but they also do odd/ends sort of jobs on the side be it in the arts, farming, or even have a great job that will allow them to take the time off. Heck when I was in the office all the time, I was allowed to take off because they knew it was new business. So I don't look at anyone who contests for a living, if they are that good, then they can do that. But most people I know are all hard workers, good people, and love what they do. Isn't that what life is about?? Doing something that you love not what everyone else wants you to do??

                      Anyhow, I work hard with my business and my community, my lil one and I travel alot, we have alot of good friends all over the country, he dances hard, and we love what we do. Nobody can ever take that from us.
                      You have crossed my path, You will never be forgotten......


                      EMAIL ME for GON 2014 Special Hotel, Air, and Car Rates...limited availability. Powwow special rates across the US and Canada. I also offer great vacation, business, and specialty fares to every destination in the world! Email for the rates
                      [email protected]

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by powwowgallery3
                        This is just my little opinion but I do know some people whose living used to revolve around powwows. That was where most of their income came from... all of their summer would be taken up hitting the circuit and so the sundances & sweats for example, would have to be put on hold. Or when it came time to vote for their tribal council they couldn't be there either because of traveling.
                        My point is even though these people cared about these important issues at home in their reserves, they still needed to be away making money the only way they knew how, which is pretty sad because they didn't necessarily want to be absent. I guess it just depends on the person too.

                        You made some valid points, in my humble opinion.
                        I understand what ouy are saying but for us... we always go to our sundance in JUly...and my girls take part here on the HOPI rez laborday weekend dancing butterflies... we always do these things first...

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                        • #13
                          I only goto a powwows for spirtual reason. And I like tobe social with folks as well. Met alot of nice folks everyone is aways down to earth people that I can relate too.
                          Welcome to my cabin,
                          Sending smoke of sage,cedar and sweetgrass,
                          Many Blessings to all.

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                          • #14
                            For at least a certain segment of the population it is either or- I know some tradish folks that absolutely refuse to pow-wow because 1. it is not traditional to their culture, 2. it conflicts time wise with ceremonials, and 3. it just seems like "playin' NDN" (their words, not mine), and detracts from people taking part in other things.
                            This ain't everyone, but there are enough folks that feel this way that it has to be taken into account. Particularly for smaller tribes where the traditionals are fightin' hard for the language and to keep their own things running, and have enough to contend with without flashy pow-wow dancing and dollar signs from contests getting into the kids heads.
                            So sometimes you have to make a call- go have fun or go do what you know you should.

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