|Introduction to the Southern Circle
-A history and overview for the old and new to the circle
|Pow Wow Etiquette|
-courtesies and customs of Pow Wows
|The Arena and Staff
-The event setup and the people who make it work
|Pow Wow Terminology|
-Common words you might hear at a Pow Wow
|The Drum and Songs
-the people who sing and the songs they give
-modern styles of dress that are predominant in Pow Wows
|Resources and Calendar
- a listing of annual Pow Wows, events, and several resource lists
|Guestbook and Posting Forum
- a listing of who has been here and what they have to say. You can leave your comments too!
|Monthly Craft Section
- A monthly column on a useful pow wow craft.
- Are you new to the Circle? By popular demand, a few tips on starting out.
By no means is this the ultimate or definitive pow wow resource, but it hopes to provide any visitors with a good understanding of this wonderful celebration.
If there is any information that you would like to share with the visitors of this page, we will be more than happy to post it, ranging from additions in etiquette to good resources. Always feel free to contact us!
These ceremonies, commonly known as pow wows, have evolved from a formal ceremony of the past into a modern blend of dance, family reunion, and festival. Pow wows are famous for their pagentry of colors and dance which have been adapted and changed since their beginnings into a bright, fast, and exciting event geared towards Native Americans and visitors alike.
Today pow wows are held all across the North American continent, from small towns such as White Eagle, Oklahoma, to some of the largest, such as Los Angeles, California. They can take place anywhere from cow pastures to convention centers, and occur year round. These festivals last only one weekend, but usually draw Native Americans and visitors from hundreds and even thousands of miles away. There is a reason for the hours of travel, a reason that deals with who you are, what you feel and what you believe . Some come to these celebrations to "contest," some come to sing songs, some come to see relatives and friends, and some come for the atmosphere. A pow wow makes people feel good, a feeling that is mental and physical. For this reason, pow wows spread across the plains quickly and today serve as one of the main cultural activities of Native Americans.
The Poncas were the first to practice this ceremony, which they call the Hethuska, as early as 1804. They passed the Hethuska to the Kaw, and they in turn gave the dance to the Osage, who named it the "Inlonschka". (At the top of this page is a listing of other names the dance was called by other southern tribes.) The Omaha then aquired the ceremony and spread it north to the Lakota (Sioux) tribe who popularized it on reservations in the late 1890's. In this time, the "Omaha", or "Grass" dance as it was then called, spread faster than the more famous Ghost Dance of the same time. Unlike ceremonial dances of other tribes, the Grass dancers danced for the purpose of dancing itself, instead of as a religious ceremony.
In the 1920's, some pow wows became "inter-tribal," meaning that they were open for all tribes to attend, and the practice of "contesting" began. Contesting involves dance competitions that may last all weekend, taking into account how often dancers dance as well as how well they may dance, in order to give out prizes that range into thousands of dollars. World War II brought a revival to the pow wow world, and ever since pow wows have been growing, constantly changing and adapting to modern ways, while retaining their cultural roots. Brighter colors, more motions and even a new style of dance has emerged from the passage of time. The Native American culture is not dead and fixed under the glass of a museum, but instead it is a living culture, retaining it heritage and advancing with the times.