Native Pow Wow

Native Pow Wow

Hello all!

I attended a native pow wow last night and wanted to share my experience. Native American pow wow music is so powerful to me. It’s music from the soul and it speaks to mine. I connect to it on a very deep level, it is soothing. I will tell you that it is not for everyone (it can be quite loud and piercing) but to me, it’s music to my ears 🙂 I even listen to it before I go to bed as a way to relax… A Native pow wow is a ceremony filled with singing, drumming and dancing. It is a celebration to renew old friendships and ties and to make new ones, to come together to sing and dance, to preserve the native heritage. Pow wows can be small or big, with one or more drums and adorned dancers (adorned with native american pow wow regalia) or just regular folks dancing. Regalia can be elaborate, such as this one below (I saw a man in very similar regalia last night). And please it is called regalia or attire not a costume! Dancers are not playing dress up, they are dressing in the way of their ancestors, in a way that reflects the culture and traditions. The Pow Wow typically begins with the Grand Entry, i.e. the people (typically the singers and dancers as well as important guests as well as Elders or organizers of the event) entering the room. Flags are typically carried while people in the crowd stand, acknowledging those coming in. The head woman and man dancers come in followed by the men dancers and then the women dancers. A prayer is said and then the dancing resumes!

pow wow regalia

Men and women can be adorned and shine in colors. It is certainly a pretty sight to see dancers dancing freely to the beat of the drum with flashes of color and fabric swirling around. You will also often hear bells jiggling, bells attached to the women’s dress. Appropriately it is named a jingle dress and can be quite beautiful. And there is no sound like the sound of jingle dresses jingling all at once 🙂 See the picture below.

powwow regalia

jingle dresses

People dance to the beat of the drum, being beaten by men holding long drum sticks. They all sit in a circle around the drum while beating it and singing. Native American pow wow music is strong, singers are respected. That kind of singing takes a toll on one’s voice but they keep going. The pow wow I went to last night, had three drums. One reason could be that each drum had a different tribe or nation or different drum group sitting around it, singing their own songs in their native language. They sing about their heritage, their culture, their past, their way of life. A song is a prayer; it might be in a language you do not understand but let your heart hear it. Be aware that some dances will be closed to the general public, i.e. not everyone can dance. Be respectful of the people around you, of the singers and different tribes around you. Ask if you are unsure. And if an honor song is played, stand up and remain silent. For more info on Pow wow etiquette, see this page

pow wow drum

Pow wows are a celebration of what was, what is and what will be. it is a celebration of the Creator (beating the drum connects the physical world with the spiritual world), of life, of all our relations. Some who have a gift will see the spirits joining the drum circle, looking over the singers, as without the singers, there is no dancing. The beating of the drum is steady, providing a good rhythm for the dancers, young and old alike. I have to say that I am not a dancer at all. But dancing to Pow wow music, well it comes naturally. I just have to let my body flow with the music. And it helps burn off the good food that is shared at pow wows (bannock for sure!) 😉

Below is an example of native american pow wow music. As I said, it is not for everyone. And different tribes and nations will sing and celebrate differently. For example, in British Columbia, there is west coast style and east coast/prairie style singing and pow wows. The music below would be considered east coast/prairie style (more specifically Cree). The Co-Ed song which I previously posted would be considered west coast style. I hope you enjoy!

For Great Pow Wow footwear, including moccasins, check out this page 

All my Relations

50 thoughts on “Native Pow Wow

  1. Michael

    Beautiful Website full of good information to help people’s health. The Visuals make thing of Indian blood I have in me. Nice Job.

    Reply
  2. Glen

    It is sad to know that people of today do not appreciate Native American and other unique cultures and even make fun of it. They even mimic the practices in a mocking way. I am glad this site was made to promote awareness and give respect. Cheers.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Glen!
      Absolutely! Respect is so important. Not ridiculing a culture, its traditions and beliefs. Especially the Native culture, which has such a long history.

      Reply
  3. Christina

    Love Native pow wows! I spent three months in northern Yukon in Canada in a first nation’s village where I got to learn about their culture and traditions. It was quite the experience; one that I will never forget! 🙂

    Reply
  4. Jovo Vranjes

    Hi Emily, it is great what you are doing here within your site. Not many people have opportunity to know such things about Native population, and many should be grateful to you for your work. This site opens a world completely unknown to many of us. You are great. Jovo

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Jovo,
      thank you for your kind words. I do hope that more people become familiar with native practices through visiting my site. All my Relations

      Reply
  5. robert lawrence

    Hey Emily,

    First of all I want to say that I love the pictures you have on here. i think the dresses the women wear are so beautiful and the colors are great. I think your website looks very proffesional and I’ll be sure to return again for the interesting information. Cheers

    Reply
  6. Matt

    Hi Emily,

    Great site, unfortunately there’s not enough out there on Native Americans. Far too many show a lot of random pictures with generalized (and stereotypical) descriptions. However your description of a pow wow is rich in details and explains a lot for those with little knowledge. Well done!

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Matt
      thanks for stopping by! The stereotypes are for sure still out there. Only by providing the real story, the spiritual side of things, can the people be seen for the beautiful people that they are

      Reply
  7. Shawn

    Hi!
    I really enjoy Pow Wows and have attended many of them.
    We have a huge one here in Wisconsin during the Indian Summerfest on the Summerfest Concert grounds in Milwaukee every year.
    I have performed for this festival several years back in the 80’s and enjoyed being with the Ho-Chunk Nation.
    Keep the great articles flowing!

    Shawn>>

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Shawn!
      you sure have amazing Pow wows in Wisconsin! So great that you were able to attend and perform on top of it! I just love Pow wows, the music, the drumming, the dancing. I am in my element!

      Reply
  8. Pete

    Coming from the UK we do not really have anything like this. I found your article very interesting and informative. I have recently been getting more spiritual myself and found it interesting that you found the as you say “peircing music” music to your ears…proof that we all have such differing souls! great site by the way.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Pete
      It is music that touches my soul for sure. A very deep connection though that music. It is hard to explain but you just feel it

      Reply
  9. Lin

    I never knew about all the different Pow Wow dances. It is a shame that this information is not provided in history class in school. I know that children would be absolutely fascinated.

    I love the costumes. So bright and colorful. I think that I will do a portrait of an aboriginal dressed in top regalia. Would you have any closeup portraits or should I just check the internet?

    Thank you for your inspiration.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Lin
      It is so sad that this part of history is not known or taught. The regalia is gorgeous! There are numerous portraits and paintings of natives in regalia for sure. I can send you some or a good artist to look for is Alfredo Rodriguez. And a good photographer is Edward S Curtis, who went around the Americas in the 19th and 20th century taking over 40 000 pictures of Native people. Gorgeous pictures!

      Reply
  10. Tanner

    Interesting content! This is great information. Some of it is even a little dark.. Which I love! I love reading information that makes me think about what has been taught to me in the passed and if I was being steered a certain way in school.. Keep the great content flowing I will check back for more 🙂

    Tanner

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Tanner! sometimes it can indeed be good to start rethinking some things we have learned over the years 🙂

      Reply
  11. Nnamdi

    Hello Emily,

    Lol, Pow Wow music. There are different kinds of music that appeal to people. Like you said, the pow wow music is loud and piercing; I agree with you, because I just listened to it from your site. Some people may not like it but I think is a music that makes a person to identify with his or her culture. It also reminded me of African music/culture, because it sounded similar to what can be seen and heard in Africa. And this really gives me the inkling of the kind of person that you are. You are really into cultural activities, and it is surprising with the rate of civilization around you. That did not change your orientation one bit, ha aha .

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Nnamdi
      you are right, Pow wow music is similar in a sense to African music. I want to say that it is music from the soul. Music from our ancestors that come alive with it. hence why it is so touching for me 🙂

      Reply
  12. Briona-joy

    Hi Emily,

    I’ve always wanted to attend a pow wow. I’ve only seen it in movies. I bet the movies don’t even depict half of what it’s really like to be there in person. Thanks for sharing, maybe one day I can experience a pow wow too.

    Briona

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Briona!
      oh yes the Pow wows in most movies are not that representative. It can be so beautiful and spiritual in person. I highly recommend attending one 🙂

      Reply
  13. Yvonne

    I’ve only seen pow wows on the telly. To see it live must have been a great experience. Your site is very informative and interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  14. Johnathan Tarter

    You have a very Informative and enlightening article here! Thank you for sharing such in-depth and beautiful information about Native American culture! There is not enough thorough information about this culture but there are many beautiful and interesting aspects that you are covering and can cover in the future! I find the pow wows very beautiful and fun! I would love to participate in one and be able to join the fun that these beautiful beings are having! Great post and I know you will keep them coming. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Johnathan
      thank you for stopping by! Pow wows are just amazing gatherings. If I could I would go to one every single week 🙂 The music and the dancing just move me.

      Reply
  15. Lori

    Hi Emily,

    You have a very nice website here and your topic of traditional native healing really speaks to me. I am part Mohawk Indian and pow wows always help me connect back to my native heritage. I was living on the west coast of Canada and the pow wow circuit was really good. I moved over the summer to the west coast and have no idea if there is even a pow wow circuit out here. I will have to find out because I miss it. I miss the beautiful dancing. I love the crow dancers but I once saw a chicken dancer lol! It was very wonderful to watch. What is your favorite type of dance style?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Lori!
      I am on the West coast too and love all the Pow wows happening! the website powwows.com is a good one to check to see if there is one happening near you. I love all dances but I am a sucker for the Jingle dress dances and the Men’s traditional 🙂

      Reply
  16. Anthony

    Thank you for the post, when I read stuff like this I realize how different cultures can be from my own and it’s amazing. The music (Though doesn’t catch my interest) is fascinating to listen to because of its difference to my definition of music.
    I sometimes watch this YouTube channel with my partner (I think it’s called Taboo) were like this they show the differences that cultures bring and every time it shocks me.
    Fantastic website you have created here Emily.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Anthony
      nice! I will have to check out the Taboo channel! You are right Pow wow music is not for everyone for sure. I just happen to loooove it 🙂

      Reply
  17. Tara

    I really like your website I went to pow wows growing up they were so much fun and very enjoyable . I will be taking my kids to the next one thats colse to us.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Tara
      yay for the pow wows!! I absolutely love them too! If I could I would go to one every week. Such a nice spiritual celebration 🙂 do come back anytime!
      All my Relations

      Reply
  18. Gino

    Hi Emily,
    I love how i get to learn a whole new culture with your site, i find it so interesting plus the Pow wow music was interesting haha You are right when you said the pow wow music is loud and piercing.

    Reply
  19. Hindy Pearson

    Hi Emily, I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been drawn to this culture, but until your site I didn’t do as much research as I would have liked. No idea why that is, but there you go. I am not familiar with a pow wow and found it really fascinating. You’re very fortunate to be able to participate and experience first hand. I think what moves me is the sense of tradition, the spiritual nature and the respect shown to others. Elements that are sadly in short supply in these times.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hindy
      I am right there with you! I am drawn to the cultures and the traditions. The sense of respect, of connection. It is very strong. And the music and dancing just move me in a way I have never been moved. It brings me to tears at times and I have no idea why. It warms my spirit for sure though. I am glad you found some information and some happiness here 🙂

      Reply
  20. Nam

    Hi Emily,

    Beautiful site you got here! The Pow-Wow music is great, I enjoyed to hearing it in the video. The natives have some awesome traditions with dance and drums. And it means a lot to them to keep the traditions to this day and I’m glad that the traditions have not faded away.

    Thank you so much for sharing Emily

    Nam

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Nam
      I am glad you enjoyed the music! Traditions, culture, music and language were forbidden for years. The Native people could not express their culture nor share it with the world, for the fear of severe punishment. It is awesome to see that now they can. They deserve it and I am right there celebrating them!

      Reply
  21. Clark

    Thanks for this wonderful post – you described it in such a beautiful way that I can’t help but feel like I’m there at the native pow wow with you. Please share more of your inspiring experiences with us.

    Reply
  22. Peter

    I feel so sorry for those who have never attended a pow wow. It is absolutely captivating. Everyone should attend one of these to help them better understand NA Native culture. The music, dancing and food are all spectacular. I have been hooked ever since attending my first one on Vancouver Island. Lovely article Emily, thanks for posting this!
    Peter

    Reply
  23. Alyssa

    Hi Emily,

    As I write, I’m listening to the Native American Traditional Pow Wow Music in your article. I’m taken with the spiritual nature of Pow Wows as you wrote that “Pow wows are a celebration of what was, what is and what will be.” And it is a very powerful, humbling thought that the beating the drum connects the physical world with the spiritual world. I believe sound is a gateway that does connect us with our Creator. Different sounds in different cultures, but the same concept unites. My friend went to Pow Wows in North Carolina. He played the drums and sang and told me about the brotherhood he experienced. I never quite understood the purpose and meaning of Pow Wows until I read your article. Thank you for taking the time to share this article.
    Cheers,
    Alyssa

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Alyssa
      awwww so nice to see someone who shares my love for the music! Pow wows are ceremonies. Sometimes it is hard to remember that as they are also gatherings but they are a spiritual ceremony. The singers, drummers and dancers are sharing their gifts and prayers with us. And the ancestors are there with us. A very touching time.

      Reply

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