Pictures on slides 1, 3, 5, and 8 were scanned from the book POWWOW COUNTRY: People of the Circle by Chris Roberts. There are many other aspects that could be included when teaching this lesson such as traditional dress, food, importance of the drums, etc.
Origin of the term: Algonquin language meaning council or meeting. Native Americans adopted the term for a spiritual ceremony in which traditional song and dance were used to give thanks for the Earth and everything they had received. Prohibition (late 1800s-early 1900s): The US gov’t banned powwows and arrested anyone who took part in them. The reason: “Some people in the government thought the dances were organized to resist federal forces.” Jeremy L. Smith from the book, Native Americans “Pow wows had religious significance as an opportunity for families to hold naming and honoring ceremonies. Most religious ceremonies are no longer part of the pow wow. Naming ceremonies, for instance, are now more often conducted in the privacy of family gatherings. Honoring ceremonies and ceremonies for dropped eagle feathers remain today, however.” fsst.org
The traditional powwow season goes from June through September. Powwows will occasionally be held in other months as well. Go “on the circuit”: This is where families travel to attend all of the powwows of the season. Traditionally: families camp together and share a variety of native foods and crafts.
Symbolism: “The spatial organization of contemporary Lakota pow-wows mirrors encampments of previous centuries. Women dance clockwise and occupy the center of the circle, and male dancers move around them in the opposite direction, representing a protective force. The next layer is the Drums, which symbolize a protective hoop around the entire arena. Extending outward are further layers: the dance arbor (a shaded resting area), spectators, and traders. Commonly found in the Northern and Central Plains, this ordering is also customary in the intermountain and Pacific Northwest Regions.” Tara Browner – Heartbeat of the People
I would go to this link to explain the different types of dance in depth.
Stress the importance of the song. Without the song, there would be no dance, and without the dance, there would be no powwow. I could also get into the different ceremonies and which songs are typically used for which ceremonies. Also, I could get into the singing differences in men and women, etc.
Talk about the importance of not “crossing the circle”
An event in which friends and
family gather to celebrate
the seasonal renewal of life.
Traditional Pow Wow
Origin of the term
Prohibition of Powwows
Religious naming and honoring ceremonies
June through September
Go “on the circuit”:
Blessed by elder members of the tribe to
clear negative spirits and influences
Burning of tobacco or sage
Prayers and songs
Symbolism of Organization
Grand opening of the ceremony
The Eagle Staff is brought into the circle,
followed by the American, Canadian, and tribal
flags. Any title holders from tribal pageants,
etc are next. The men are next in the order as
follows: traditional dancers, grass dancers,
fancy shawl dancers and jingle dress dancers.
Junior boys, then junior girls follow in the
same order. Last come the little boys and the
The dancers perform clockwise around the
arbor. Their steps signify their identity and
Recorded never written
Learned by singers and dancers both
Traditional: very important
Different for each ceremony
English “vocables” or sounds that replace words
Important symbol to Native American culture
Represents harmony and peace, among other
things. The formation of a Powwow is a circle,
representing the harmony, peace, and circle of
life of their people.
DO NOT “Cross the Circle”
“To Dakota and most Native Americans, the
eagle feather is sacred. When one falls from a
dancer's outfit, the powwow stops and a
ceremony is performed to restore the feather's
lost power for good. Four traditional dancers,
usually veterans, dance around the feather
from four directions and usually attack four
times to retrieve it. While traditions differ
among tribes, four is a sacred number for all
Browner, T. (2002). Heartbeat of the People:
Music and Dance of the Northern Pow-Wow.
Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois
Roberts, C. (1998). Powwow Country: People
of the Circle. Missoula, MT: Meadowlark.
GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCHES
Links on each PowerPoint page