We are always glad to see people attend pow wows, and learn more
about our cultures and ways, but sometimes not everyone acts appropriately.
Here are some general guidelines to follow:
Pow Wow, or Wacipi (Wa-chee-pee in Dakota means "they dance”),
time is the Native American people's way of meeting together, to join
in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships and making
new ones. This is a time to renew thoughts of the old ways and to
preserve a rich heritage. It is a celebration of the community.
The Wacipi begins with the Grand Entry of all the dancers entering
the arena. Leading the Grand Entry are the flag bearers. These flags
may include the eagle staffs of various tribes and families in attendance,
US flag, tribal flags, service flags and the P.O.W. flag. Flags are
usually carried by veterans. Native Americans hold the United States
flag in an honored position. For us, the US flag has two meanings. First,
it is a way to remember all of the ancestors that fought against this
country. Second, it also reminds people of those people who have fought
for this country.
An eagle staff consisting of 38 eagle feathers was made by Glynn
Crooks (Dakota) in 1979. Each feather commemorates one of the 38 Dakota
executed in Mankato on December 26, 1862. It also commemorates those
veterans who have served in times of conflict.
Following the flagbearers are other important guests of the Wacipi including
tribal chiefs, elders, and royalty. Next in line, are the men dancers
followed by the women dancers, then the children. Once everyone is in
the arena, the entrance song ends. The entrance song is immediately
followed by a song to honor the flag and a song to honor the veterans.
This is followed by an invocation.
During Grand Entry, the flag song, veterans song, and the invocation,
spectators are asked to stand and men are asked to remove their hats.
Many of these are sacred and it is requested that NO
PICTURES BE TAKEN.
- Giveaways to honor a special occasion.
- If an Eagle Feather is dropped, a ceremony will be performed
before the feather can be picked up.
- When an intertribal is called, everyone may dance -- you need
not be dressed in regalia.
Blessed before dancing, the arena is considered a sacred ground
and should be treated with respect. Profanity and unruly behavior should
not be used. Never cut across the arena to get to the opposite side.
Treat the arena as you would treat a church. Go in the "door"
and out the same way. The MC will specify who is to dance and when,
and when spectators may participate. This is usually called Intertribal
Dancing, but pay attention to the MC and other dancers before you enter
Dancers wear traditional regalia, not costumes, when they dance.
Every part of a dancer's regalia is very important to him or her for
various reasons. Many hours go into the intricate beadwork and detailing,
and full set of regalia may take years to complete. The feathers or
leather may be over 100 years old and very fragile. We ask that you
never handle any part of a dancer's outfit.
Photos of individual dancers should only be taken with their permission,
and no commercial photography without first checking with the MC and
pow wow staff. Tape recording of the drums should be done only after
asking the drum group. Video recording should be only for personal use,
unless by previous arrangement with the staff. Absolutely NO recording
of any kind on Honor Songs, prayers, or at any other time the MC specifies.
At any given pow wow, you will find a wide array of vendors selling
Native American arts, handmade crafts, clothing, jewelry, and FOOD.
Often, this is how these vendors make a living, and they sell quality
goods at a reasonable price. (Frybread is a Native American “delicacy”
... try it. You will like it.)
|Alcohol and Drugs:
We have strict rules against alcohol and drug use in the entire
area of the pow wow.
We request that you keep your dogs leashed and away from the dance
arena and the area surrounding it, including the vending area.
If you have questions about the dance, regalia, customs, etc., go
to the "Learning Center" Tent located near the arena circle.
Here you will find Native resource persons eager to answer your questions.