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Contemporary as opposed to traditinal

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  • Contemporary as opposed to traditinal

    I dont know if this has been brought up before.
    I know that there are many differences in both northern and southern categories by tribal tradition. And that a person should make her dress according to her peoples tradition.
    But what if the northern/southern plains dress is not that persons tribes tradition but wants to dance in that category?
    Could she make the cut of the dress based on the northern/southern with the beadwork reflecting her own peoples designs and colors while staying within the context of the dress category?
    Would that be considered contemporary and would it be acceptable?

    Sorry if I'm confusing or irritating the heck out of anyone. And thanks for any input.


  • #2
    Jill, your question is good and deserves an answer! Well, I guess a lot of answers from different people.
    I tend to think really traditionally, that you dance and dress your own tribe or that of your husband or your adopted family, or at the very least to get permission to dance someone else's tribe by an elder or by a group of people who have agreed that you will represent them with pride and honor and that you know the right way to do it. They may even make you a dress, so that they know will dress correctly, and honor them and not bring any shame to them.
    Even people of mixed blood will have two (or more) separate outfits...each traditional for the tribes they are descended from.
    I know people of different tribes are making (or having made) Kiowa buckskins with their own beadwork and decorations on it and a lot of elders are not happy about that at all. They feel that something is being stolen from them. But times are changing and although the right way is to ask the person if they have permission to wear one....I don't, but I kind of feel them out to see if they are going to so something off the wall with it.
    I went against my instinct one time, and I was sorry.
    But the dress wound upo in a pawn shop anyway, so the person was not really supposed to have it.
    Anyway...that's my opinion:Chatter


    • #3
      I'll throw in my two cents........there are a few dresses worn by both northern & southern style dancers (today) that have the same cut....for example wing dresses, a lot of them have the same cut, variations on the sleeve lengths, material & such. What makes them different is that they're addorned with tribal designs etc., making it unique to a certain tribe.

      I've also seen a lot of people from various areas where there people didn't originally powwow & they've taken on other styles from the north & south. I've been to powwows in the south west were i've seen a lot of navajo women & men dressing both northern (sioux style) or southern (OK style). Just to give a few examples.........hope i've helped a little with your question.

      *BE EASY*


      • #4
        I think that with the money contest, alot of things have changed for money. When it comes to traditional dances, no contest you still see people representing their nations.

        But....when it comes to contests...what wins is what becomes predominant.
        My tribe wears the ribbon work skirts and satin tops. I wear this but I also have a buckskin for contesting. When you think about it all the nations probably wore buckskins. We did't have cloth to make the ribbon dresses until the europeans came to this continent. I know my nation had buckskins, but they were practical, not for the contest dancing like today's.
        Yet today, as I said I have both types of outfits. If there is a cloth category I get in that one, but when they lump us all in one category as southern, I pull out the buckskin....well, cause usually the buckskins take all the places when we all lumped into one category. Simple as that.

        Like I said money contests have changed alot of our powwows.


        • #5
          Thank you all for replying!

          I really value your opinions, and its great to see the different sides.

          I got the idea to ask this question after re-reading one of my whispering wind issues. There were two young ladies on the cover I think they are mowhawk? They were wearing the buckskindresses , southern style but had contemporary design beadwork , canadian mapleleaf motif. I thought it looked nice. Ironically I bought the issue because it featured wabanaki beadwork. I was getting ideas for my traditional abenaki outfit ( no i wasnt stealing patterns) :)

          Traditional buckskins for abenaki were the strap and sleeve dress or a fringed tunic over a fringed skirt.
          The very few contest powows I have been to were small. The traditional category lumped north and south and cloth together as one category.A few narragansett ladies I saw had buckskins in a plains cut with thier own beading and in some cases wampum shells in place of cowrie.
          I didnt know what to think, I thought it looked very nice, but wondered if someones ancestors someplace was rolling in thier grave.
          There is such beauty in the dance and the way the outfit responds to it that its easy to see why so many want to incorporate it.
          Thank you for the wonderful insight.



          • #6
            People use different styles from other tribes. When it's competition, I see no problem with it. That type of pow-wow is more for show, and people are always competing for the best looking outfit amongst each other. There a many people who jingle dress dance that are not ojibay, and I have never herd anyone get in trouble for that, so sharing is not major problem for me. But then that's just my opinion.


            • #7
              I have an opinion on that, too! What else is new?
              Among the Sioux a girl is given the right to jingle dance by an older male in the family after he plumes her. This is whwn she is given her first Eagle Plume and then she may have a dress made and dance. This is is not just the old ways, but it is still respected and it is the way things are to be done.
              I'm not sure about Ojibwas, but I can ask a friend.
              If a girl down here (a Kiowa or a Comanche) wants to Jingle dance, first she asks an elder in her family if she can. They say NO, it is not our way. Then they beg..and then they are told that if they are going to do it, they need to do it the right way. They need to go up North and be introduced to an elder of whatever tribe they are visiting and after a while of letting them get to know her, they can ask permission. This can take a while, they should get to know each other and eat together and also give gifts. Then usually, a dress will be given to her by her adopted family up there so she can dance. That is being given permission.
              This is true...this isn't an old's the proper way to do it. That's why I am always saying that you don't just see a style from another tribe and decide that that is the way I want to dance!! Anyone who posts on the Buckskin Borad knows that that is the way I think cuz I sya it often enough.
              Anyway, about Contesting being different....well youwould think so because everyone does it, but did you know that there are still elders and not so elders that will definitely judge against you if you are not dresses your tribe from head to toe!!
              If they see a Southern Buckskin with 2 piece Northern fully beaded leggings, they won;t place her. I know it goes on, so I'm just saying that sometimes it counts.
              That's just my 40 cents.
              I know some of you disagree with me and I respect your opinion, let's hear it!!!!!!!!!
              Last edited by buckskinlady; 03-14-2002, 07:12 PM.


              • #8
                good subject! i disagree, you should never ask to wear another tribes clothing! only a honor, if you are asked. because then you have earned that right, cause someone thinks that much about you, and already should know about that person. and they will invite you to there place and gift you with the dress and make it known to their people, and gift the people,moreless to get their approval. and make it right! and explain why one wants to dress a off member of the tribe. Yes times of changed, I'm southern and northern. and not to many people know, but if someone came up and ask me why i'm wearing my northern or southern yes i can answer them. I do dance both, and have done my fair share of winning and losing. but thats the way it goes, unless your nose is a little brown! haha! I myself do not wish to kiss butt, i myself wouldn't feel like a winner. have a lot of family that dances and sings, and some have brown noses! I always tell them, just dance who cares who judging, or who the point keepers are. I dance cause i enjoy it very much. dance cause you enjoy it, not for the money, dance for the feelings, and blessing you get from the arena. you respect you self, and your dance,good things will come your way.:)


                • #9
                  I agree with you Southdances 100%!!! Never ask to be dressed by another tribe. I think that everyone should be proud of who they are, where they come from and how they got where they are today. That goes for all races not just natives. I know my daughter would never ask another tribe to wear their clothes, she won't even borrow a friends dress. She was taught that she is who she is and until someone gives her the right to do otherwise, she wears her own tribes sytle clothing. Same with my husband and son.

                  This is a problem as I see it, everyone likes everyone elses rig and says hey I think I'll do that. And they do. I know a young man, no names, who told an elder he wanted to "dress up like you guys" said it looked cool. His folks asked the same of the elder because they didn't want him (the boy) to be told no. Family obliged but don't really think their hearts were in it. Felt like they couldn't say no. Saddest part is the young man didn't speak to the family for the rest of the pow wow and after he ws dressed, danced one song and quit. What a waste.

                  Just my opinion, but I would wait until I was given the right - not ask for it. It will mean so much more if it is done the "right way".

                  That's all - I'm done. Hope I didn't offend.


                  • #10
                    Thanks so much Southdances and Luvstraightdancrs!!!!
                    Finally two ladies more tradish than me on this board.
                    I really do agree with you, but so many people who post on this Buckskin dancing board are always saying "I want to dance this way", or "I want to make a Northern dress like the one I saw here or there" and I am always telling them to dress their tribe (or the one they were given permission to), that I finally had to answer the last comment about "anyone can jingle dance" with my answer about getting permission.
                    But I tell you what..I sure do enjoy Jingle dancing in my kitchen when no oine is watching to White Fish Bay Jrs!! Aaaaayyyyyy!
                    Or me and my sister-in-law sure do love to Grass Dance when no one is around!! Oh now I am telling on myself!!!Aaaaayyy!

                    Anyone else have some good opinions???!!!


                    • #11
                      I agree with the ladies on this board - you should dress your own tribe when dancing traditional. I live out east and sometimes I don't understand, even through I try to be open, when I see people who are not , say ho-chunk for example, wear ho- chunk cloth dresses or use their deisgns. Or Osage ribbon work when not Osage, or dance Sioux style when not Sioux. This is not saying only east coast do that because lots of non- plains tribes dance plains style. I just live out here so it is easy for me to use them as an example. Sometimes I just want to know if people dressed out of their tribe know the real significance of what they are doing. Not just doing stuff because they think it is cool. It can be offensive.

                      I have a Kiowa friend and she has explained to me the significance of her beautiful dress and dance and has told me stories of girls being shamed out bc too contemporary when dressed traditional. She explained lots of things about her tribe and southern buckskin dress to me because I am Lakota and I know very little about her style. Anyway, even though I will never dress that style because I have my own, I have lots of respect for what she taught me. I say all that to say that lots of people dress her style and don't know what they are doing. Prior to listening to this young lady I thought that some of the southern dancers were pretty good but now that I know the meaning behind the dress and dance- they look like poor imitations.


                      • #12
                        Iam getting a better understanding reading all of your opinion's. And I do see the reason of dressing in your own tribe's style. The outfit I am completing now is traditional to my people the abenaki, and I probably will start on a strap and sleeve buckskin dress soon.
                        It's been a little confusing watching the dancing at powwow and seeing people dance buckskin that its not a tradition for, and know what the level of acceptance is.
                        Adding to my confusion, I have read in some of the past threads about some people in eastern woodlands style regalia (I think) who were dancing in a dance step that is particular to their people. And some felt it didn't belong there as the powwow was not traditional to that group of people and if they wanted to dance in that way it should have been as a special. So I'm thinking that maybe some of the people in my area feel that its more acceptable to adopt the clothing and add their own tribal designs to the outfit. And as it was brought up, some do the competition powwows and feel the plains dress gives them a better shot.
                        I was hoping the next trip out to Wyoming I could catch a powwow and I wasn't sure what to wear. I'm sure my traditional outfit might look a little strange for the area , but I'm more sure now that a plains style buckskin might be offensive, ad seen as mocking.
                        I have a better picture now of the situation, you all have great advice!


                        • #13
                          As far as your traditional clothing looking out of place at a pow-wow in a different area. Don't sweat it. People (for the most part) like to see something new and different. You might even be surprised by their response.

                          At Crow Fair last year a young lady from somewhere in Alaska - dressed in her traditional clothes, took Women's Traditional. She was an awesome dancer and her clothes were out of site! She danced the entire weekend barefoot and did her tribal dances.

                          It was great!


                          • #14
                            I agree! Wear your Tribal dress out west and help teach others about your traditions!!


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