What is a powwow?
• Powwows are American Indian celebrations of community and spirituality, featuring American Indian drum and dance as well as vendors offering American Indian arts and crafts items. Powwows preserve the American Indian heritage by handing down traditions to the younger generation.
• For non-American Indians with limited exposure to the American Indian culture, public events like powwows serve to dispel stereotypes. They provide the larger community with a chance to experience an American Indian gathering firsthand and gain an understanding of Indian cultures and traditions.
What is the origin of the powwow?
Its exact origin is difficult to pinpoint. However, as American Indians were moved onto reservations, their dancing was curtailed by government regulations. Dancing became a powerful symbol of Indian identity. Since the turn of the 20th century, the intertribal powwow has rapidly developed into a form of expression, recognizable to American Indians throughout the continent.
What are the elements of a powwow?
There are four main elements:
1.THE ARENA the area inside the powwow circle where the dancers move in a circular pattern. There are certain times when dancers and spectators may enter the Arena. During competition dances, only the dancers are allowed to enter the Arena.
2. THE DRUM symbolizes the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Without the Drum, there would be no songs, dances or powwows.
3. GRAND ENTRY the parade of dancers that marks the beginning of each powwow. The dancers enter to the sound of the Drum and gather to create the circle. During the Grand Entry, everyone is asked to stand as the flags are brought into the arena. The flags generally include the U.S. flag, tribal flags, POW flag and eagle staffs of the various tribes that are present. These flags are usually carried by veterans. Following the veterans in line are tribal chiefs, princesses, elders and powwow organizers. Next in line are the male dancers, followed by the female dancers.
4. INVOCATION a time-honored tradition that calls upon the Creator, the Great Spirit, to bless those who have gathered to participate in the ceremonies.
The following guidelines are intended for visitors and newcomers to American Indian powwows and festivals. Powwows are based on sacred ceremonies, filled with traditions that have been passed down for generations.
Following these tips will help maintain a respectful environment.
• Maintain appropriate dress and behavior in the Arena. Anyone unwilling to abide by this rule will be asked to leave by the Arena Director.
• Remember that Arena benches are reserved for dancers. Dancers who wish to reserve a space on the bench should place a blanket in that space before the dance begins.
• Listen to the Master of Ceremonies (emcee). He will announce who is to dance, and when they are to dance.
• Show respect to the flag and honor songs by standing during “special” songs. Everyone should stand in place until the sponsors of the song have danced a complete circle around them. After that, they may join in. Anyone who is not dancing should continue to stand quietly until the song is completed. Only veterans are permitted to dance during veteran’s songs, unless otherwise stated.
• Certain items of religious significance should be worn only by those qualified to do so. Respect the traditions.
• If at any time you are uncertain of procedure or etiquette, please check with the emcee, Arena Director or Head Singer. They will be glad to answer questions.
• Do not bring alcohol or drugs into the powwow. They are not allowed.
• If taking pictures, ask the dancer first. Remember common courtesy and ask permission. It is usually OK to take group photographs, but it is a good rule of thumb to ask the emcee first.
American Indian Festival
Presented by the Mid-America All-Indian Center
Contest Powwow • Indian Art Market
Hands-On Learning • Arts and Craft Vendors
Health and Education Booths
July 13-14, 2013
Century II Expo Hall
225 W. Douglas, Wichita, KS
Saturday 10:00 a.m.- 10:00 p.m. (Powwow Grand Entry 1:00 and 7:00 p.m.)
Sunday 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. (Powwow Grand Entry 1:00 p.m.)
$5 Adults | $8 Adult 2-day pass
$4 Elders (age 55+) and Active Military
$3 Youth (age 6-16) | FREE Under 6