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The negative side of powwows

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  • The negative side of powwows

    There are many reasons to go to powwows. The family activity aspect, the intertribal aspect, the dancing to a common drumbeat aspect, the comroderie aspect, the cultural aspect, etc. etc. etc.

    But there are also negative aspects that deserve comment...

    I recently went back to the community where I was raised. While there, my whole family planned to attend a powwow about 2 hours away. As we talked about the powwow, my father said my niece did not want to go.

    Hmmmm?

    When I last saw my niece, she lived to powwow, was in great shape, worked on her outfit continuously and had many friends regardless of what powwow she attended. She had won or placed in her category at the Gathering, Schemitzun, Red Earth, Denver March, the National Powwow and all across the U.S. She had also begun to travel on her own with many well known powwow family's as she extended her powwow boundaries.

    In my absence, this had all changed.

    In concern, I took her aside to have a heart-to-heart talk with her. She said powwow people had been mean and cruel to her. They broke her spirit. She had made enemies from other competitors and their parents. She had even been told off publically by adults, while she was on the road. She said, "I'm just a kid and I was taught not to speak back to an elder."

    She said she didn't want to dance anymore as a result, it just isn't worth it and doesn't want to go to powwows either.

    Unfortunately, the crowd she hangs around are not Indian and I'm afraid they will not be a good influence to her future.

    Sad story -huh?




    Have you faced cruelty at a powwow?

    Have you been rediculed and belittled at a powwow?

    Do you now have enemies because of powwows?

    Have you left a powwow with bad feelings?

    Can you relate to my niece?


    What did you do?
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

  • #2
    Fantastic topic. My wife and I have discussed this on several occassions. Our daughter is 11 and has been doing very well for the last few years. But teens are just around the corner for her and we are well aware of the many issues that will bring.

    She also plays soccer and those rivalries can get ugly too, but there you are competing for the win, not money or notariety. That is the difference in my eyes.

    If I'm a teen (or young adult) on the trail, I'm competing to be popular and for money for independence, new clothes, gas in my car, or money for my family. You get in the way of that, it should be no surprise it is going to get ugly.

    We came to the conclusion that we would have to see how things went and encourage her and support her in whatever she chose. If she chooses to back away for a while, that will be fine. At some point she will come back - for all the right reasons - when people's opinions don't matter. She's seen all the good things that come along with the p-w trail and she's witnessed some of the bad too, but that's life.

    I wish you and your niece the best.

    Comment


    • #3
      It's so sad to see this post, I was just wondering where she had been because I have not seen her in at least a year. What a sweet, sweet young lady its hard to think of her without picturing her smiling.

      As you know, my perspective is a little different but I know what she is talking about. I have seen it with people of all ages, the saddest is when drama between adults trickles down to involve their children. And it's not just the competition of it but the "post pw drama" too that finds it's way into the singing and dancing, even though everyone knows that it's not a place for those sort of bad feelings. Haters....just suck. I don't know another way to put it.

      I think there was another thread about "crabs in a bucket" not too long ago and I agree with that. I am friends/family with some good people and have heard all sorts of things from other folks about their outfits, or way they dance, or who they have sang with, or who their ex is and (I swear) even the "look on their face"....it's just crazy the reasons people can come up with for NOT liking someone.

      She is young and I bet hearing some (of what I can only imagine) that has been said to her has only discouraged her instead of offering support and guidance to keep dancing. Although you are probably right about her friends, too. Its hard to know when you are that age who is good supportive company and who has another agenda.

      I have left a pw with bad feelings. But it was because of the way I was treated by a committee member who was not what I would call a powwow person. It's bothered me for a long time, I even spoke to an Elder about it. I feel like it was racial but that's just my own thoughts. I did decide to put it behind me because it's just not worth it to drag around and weigh on me. I won't let it keep me away, that I do know. I was told that going back and facing it would be the best way to put it behind me and that was advice from a person I respect and look up to so I believe it.
      Last edited by ok24stacey; 07-23-2010, 01:59 PM.
      "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." ~St. Augustine

      Comment


      • #4
        powwow dancing

        Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
        There are many reasons to go to powwows. The family activity aspect, the intertribal aspect, the dancing to a common drumbeat aspect, the comroderie aspect, the cultural aspect, etc. etc. etc.

        But there are also negative aspects that deserve comment...

        I recently went back to the community where I was raised. While there, my whole family planned to attend a powwow about 2 hours away. As we talked about the powwow, my father said my niece did not want to go.

        Hmmmm?

        When I last saw my niece, she lived to powwow, was in great shape, worked on her outfit continuously and had many friends regardless of what powwow she attended. She had won or placed in her category at the Gathering, Schemitzun, Red Earth, Denver March, the National Powwow and all across the U.S. She had also begun to travel on her own with many well known powwow family's as she extended her powwow boundaries.

        In my absence, this had all changed.

        In concern, I took her aside to have a heart-to-heart talk with her. She said powwow people had been mean and cruel to her. They broke her spirit. She had made enemies from other competitors and their parents. She had even been told off publically by adults, while she was on the road. She said, "I'm just a kid and I was taught not to speak back to an elder."

        She said she didn't want to dance anymore as a result, it just isn't worth it and doesn't want to go to powwows either.

        Unfortunately, the crowd she hangs around are not Indian and I'm afraid they will not be a good influence to her future.

        Sad story -huh?




        Have you faced cruelty at a powwow?

        Have you been rediculed and belittled at a powwow?

        Do you now have enemies because of powwows?

        Have you left a powwow with bad feelings?

        Can you relate to my niece?


        What did you do?
        i know exactly what your talkin about, when i was young it didn't matter to me i didnt pay attention to what went on-i even missed a princess nomination cause i was too busy dancing and wasn't told about it til later but thats stuff i wasn't into. but my husband and i are raising my oldest granddaughter and the rest as many as we can haul around with us we have been takin them to powwows around us and on reservation. gee sometimes even tho we say hello and are polite, etc. there is a like a wall going on or something. even tho we have seen these same powwow people (my grand daughter is now 13) here and there its as if we're not even there all these years. denver march we know a few families and my own rez (i didn't grow up there) but my husband did, My grand daughters and sons have nice outfits - we worked hard on and my hasband and i show respect and have respect. The grandkids surprised me with taking up for themselves and getting ready and learning to get in the line up for grand entries and all that - they really like dancing but if the attitude from powwow people is going to be like that - I worry they may get turned off too- i did know a lot of the powwow people i hung with and i don't remember them acting so rude but that was in california and they dont live around here where we are, but i wanted to go to a few outside this area and if its like that all over- thats just kind of scary cause i don't want the takojas to get turned off - this is their heritage and culture too - but for the opportunity for them we are still going to powwow!!!i may have to start dancing again one day soon!!

        Comment


        • #5
          ny niece used to have trouble with fancy shawlers flinging their fringe into her face. we just told her to get them back or dance away from them.
          Wanjica Infinity No One

          Comment


          • #6
            As I get older I really, REALLY dislike competition pow-wows!

            I remember the good ol days of dancing for fun, no competition, one-up-manship, jealousy, hard feelings, ugliness, etc. Not to mention you hardly ever get to dance anymore at competition pow-wows!
            Traditions.....keep them and keep them sacred!

            I am NOT Indian. I have never been to India, nor has any of my family before me! I have met these people from India, of whom you speak, and I am nothing like them. Why do you call me an Indian?

            .

            Comment


            • #7
              I have heard alot of people complaining about this at one time or another...and I just tell em..the circle belongs to everybody and its not meant for those select few...
              L* about the fringes...we were watching this one video and one girl got her shawl almost caught over her head by another dancer..those are just plain mean competitive don't know any better people..yep fling your fringes back in their face if you have to..I think whether we teach our children not to be disrespectful and not to hate others..there comes a time that they have to...in order for those kinds of people to realize what their behaviors are..
              for myself I get discouraged by those top notch so called pw people.lol.but I remind myself that I am not there for them..nor do they have a say so on dancing so I just go out there...so yeh I can only imagine if its happening at the adult level how much it is happening at the adolescent level..and yes the verbal garbage of haha I am better than you etc etc goes on...
              despite all of the negativity..I wouldn't just give up on pws..so anyways thats my opinion..
              "I don't know why you never tried to tell me I was the one for you, I'm telling you my love is true and you're the only one for me -NC

              I'm not crazy I'm jus a little impaired I know right now you don't care but soon enough you're gonna think of me and how I used to be I'm not crazy jus a little unwell...-matchbox 20

              Comment


              • #8
                My husband experienced this when he was younger. He told me (eventually, he isn't a big talker) that it's the reason he won't do competetion pws. It sneaks in the odd place in a trad. Pw though, but he says not as often. For example at the pw last weekend my friend and I won first in a potato dance (the only competition we get unless you count spot dances) and people came up saying things like "you should have won ten min. Earlier cuz this and that". My friend started to get caught in it but having done competitive gymnastics in my youth I knew how that turns out and told her it wasn't really relevant, we had fun and happened to win too. I of course saw this attitude in gymnastics plenty. So in a round about way my husband and I do know how some of that feels...ask her to try one that isn't competitive.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Lmao... Powwow bs

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    wow...where to start with this one...

                    There is lots of good and bad things about powwows, but since this is about the bad stuff, lets get into it.
                    I liked the part about the fringes! lol...Yeah I can relate. I dance tradish and its just as bad with dudes too. You get guys cutting off people in competition by weaving in and out of the middle and what not, cutting people off. What Do I do? I get em back, cuz I'm a bad muthafugga! Cut me off, I cut you off.
                    I also liked the teen thing and yeah its bad. When I was a teen it was ALL about bragging rights, who's placing 1st, who's better than the other...ect. You had your little cliques that you hang with, people get singled out. It was just like highschool...you have your cool clique and then you have your outsiders. You can see the same thing with adults. Some of those cliques have been freinds since childhood and look after one another, so when they judge, you can guess who's gonna get in the money...
                    Also, as much as there are good spirited people at powwows who go to have fun and dance, there are even MORE people there to make a quick buck to last them the week and get to the next powwow the following weekend, and will do ANYTHING to make that money...why? cuz their BROKE and this is their summer income. Hell, they even get their own kids to be like that. If their kids dont place, they grudge like a mofo to the arena director or get mad at they own kids for not placing, blaming them for stupid stuff as to why they didnt get in.
                    Some take it a step further and "MOJE" someone. If you dont know what that is, its medicine. I dont like to talk about it too much as it is a taboo topic, but we ALL know its out there and used on a regular basis. And its not always the younger folk who dont kn ow how to use it, its the OLDER folk and so called "elder" that use it so their son, daughter, grandson/daughter will place.
                    Hell at some powwows, you can litteraly see it bouncing around.
                    Last but not least though..there is the age old Tribal Beefs. Dont get me wrong..I get along with all tribes and all walks of life, but lets face facts people, there are still people out there (mostly the older people) who still have that old arch emeny thing going on. For instance, There are still people that wont go into other tribal territories for powwows...Like a Sioux wont go deep into Cree territory or vice versa...hey it happens. You can still go to powwows and see one tribe on one side of the arbour and another on the other side...shyt still happens.
                    I went to a powwow once and I'm not gonna say where it is cuz I dont wanna bring them down, but I went there and it was a place where our tribe is KNOWN being ancient enemies, and you can FEEL the animosity still when you go there. It sucks I know. I thought that stuff was over with,but it still lingers between certain people.

                    I could go on and on and on..but I'll cut it short here.
                    [SIGPIC]

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
                      There are many reasons to go to powwows. The family activity aspect, the intertribal aspect, the dancing to a common drumbeat aspect, the comroderie aspect, the cultural aspect, etc. etc. etc.

                      But there are also negative aspects that deserve comment...

                      I recently went back to the community where I was raised. While there, my whole family planned to attend a powwow about 2 hours away. As we talked about the powwow, my father said my niece did not want to go.

                      Hmmmm?

                      When I last saw my niece, she lived to powwow, was in great shape, worked on her outfit continuously and had many friends regardless of what powwow she attended. She had won or placed in her category at the Gathering, Schemitzun, Red Earth, Denver March, the National Powwow and all across the U.S. She had also begun to travel on her own with many well known powwow family's as she extended her powwow boundaries.

                      In my absence, this had all changed.

                      In concern, I took her aside to have a heart-to-heart talk with her. She said powwow people had been mean and cruel to her. They broke her spirit. She had made enemies from other competitors and their parents. She had even been told off publically by adults, while she was on the road. She said, "I'm just a kid and I was taught not to speak back to an elder."

                      She said she didn't want to dance anymore as a result, it just isn't worth it and doesn't want to go to powwows either.

                      Unfortunately, the crowd she hangs around are not Indian and I'm afraid they will not be a good influence to her future.

                      Sad story -huh?




                      Have you faced cruelty at a powwow?

                      Have you been rediculed and belittled at a powwow?

                      Do you now have enemies because of powwows?

                      Have you left a powwow with bad feelings?

                      Can you relate to my niece?


                      What did you do?
                      Yeah it seams if your from the "wrong color box", or your not Native enough you sometimes get that. There was a beautiful Elder who told me "you look like a princess out there" she passed on shortly after and you have to find a reason to dance. Are you healing your soul and the souls of your people, or are you dancing for the prize money.
                      My native name is Anishtiway means "show her people the way".
                      We have a generation who are lost to drugs and alcohol and other things and don't get up and dance. Remember you are the beautiful Princess out there dancing and the Ancestors appreciate you, and so does the Creator.
                      "You are the Daughter in who the Creator is well pleased", adapted from Iyanla Vanzant.
                      she uses the word God, well which ever you believe.
                      Just remember from this Woman's Traditional dancer/Elder you are the beautiful princess out there dancing, and dance with a smile on your face when your out there.
                      Much Blessings

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Anishtiway View Post
                        Just remember from this Woman's Traditional dancer/Elder you are the beautiful princess out there dancing, and dance with a smile on your face when your out there.
                        be careful of the old hags with poisoned apples.
                        Wanjica Infinity No One

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I can relate to what dakota is saying about all the witching each other. It's terrible! Seen it happen many many times..alot has to do with all the fame that one will get and how much $$ is involved. It's really sad to see. Way to many people talking sh** about one another and who is better than who. It's crazy! Also the tribes against tribes, it's out there. RESPECT is what needs to be taught in some peoples eyes not the greed nor the popularity. That's my 2 cents..

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            ...
                            Last edited by lbgood; 08-13-2010, 03:25 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              pressure?

                              she'll come back...no worries...

                              she'll be back to powwowing when she passes that phase and gets beyond what people think/say, how they make her feel, the bs they create, etc. she'll be back when she's ready to dance again b/c she'll miss the way it makes her feel...there's nothing like jammin out to some bad azz drums!!!

                              my sis and i both went through this phase where we didn't dance, partly b/c we weren't intersted and partly b/c the pressure. we were consumed w/other things, friends especially and many of them were non-native - very similar to the situation your niece is in. but no matter what, we didn't forget who we were and what was happening at home. i'm sure this frustrated our parents and sometimes they did pressure us, this made us not want to dance even more. finally they backed off and they just made sure we knew about the opportunities to powwow and dance. sure we'd go and look on every now and then, but we honestly weren't interested. fortunately our folks always made sure we had outfits, b/c when that day came where we both decided to dance again - we had everything there.

                              i can't say there was one "defining" moment that we both had that made us wanna get back to dancing again, but we finally came around. now it's a different story, we both LOVE dancing. we love the way it makes us feel, it's fun to work on outfits to see what we can create and we don't care what anyone says...about our dance style, about our outfits - anything b/c we're happy and don't feel any pressure anymore.

                              anyway, i would say just reassure your niece of all the right reasons to dance and powwow and how important it is to maintain culture, but don't pressure her...she may just not be feelin it right now, but she'll come around!!
                              "i don't like to walk fast man - i like to strut!"

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