These dancers preserve the old way of dancing and tell of former war or hunting expeditions. Through a combination of graceful and dramatic gestures, the traditional dancer tells his story. These men wear exquisite beadwork and feathers that are characteristic to their particular nation, clan and/or family.
What is a pow wow?
Pow wows are gatherings that Native American people use as a place to meet, dance, sing and otherwise renew and strengthen our rich culture. These gatherings are held year–round and many Native people travel great distances to attend them.
Pow Wow Etiquette
Please understand that the dancers and singers are not entertainers, they are members of Native American communities from all over the country, participating in this cultural celebration with their families. Please be respectful and abide by the following guidelines.
Please stand, remove hats, and refrain from taking photographs during all Honor Songs and when an eagle feather is being retrieved from the dance circle.
No alcohol or drugs are allowed on the premises. The Pokagon Pow Wow Committee reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone believed to be intoxicated or under the influence.
Please ask permission before taking pictures of dancers outside the dance circle. Always ask permission before taking a picture of the singers and their drum.
The dancers' clothing is referred to as regalia, not costumes.
Respect the dancers' regalia, do not touch, unless given permission.
Please listen to the Pow Wow Masters of Ceremonies for specific instructions.
Several tribes remember the Grass Dance as being part of the preparation in making a clearing for ceremony. The regalia is decorated with hanks of long, multi-colored fringes which sway gracefully with the movement of the dancers bodies reminiscent of the long, blowing grasses of the prairie.
Known for their stamina, high jumps, and quick footwork, fancy dancers literally dazzle. Their outfits are constructed of two multi-colored bustles (worn around the neck and back), matching bead work, and whips which are held to emphasize the elaborate gestures of these spirited dancers.
These dignified women are admired for the respectful manner in which they dance. Their feet never completely leave the ground, symbolizing their close connection to Mother Earth. Their regalia ranges from intricately sewn ribbon-work cloth dresses to beaded hide dresses. Most are covered with cowrie shells, elk teeth, silver, and other decorative objects. These women are referred to as the "backbone" of our nation.
Based upon a young Ojibwe woman's dream, the Jingle Dress dance is considered a healing dance. Jingle Dress dancers are often called upon to dance for a sick or injured community member. Traditionally, 365 metal cones are secured on the dress representing each day of the year and a prayer is put into each cone. During the honor beats of a song, the Jingle Dress dancer uses her fan to spread the prayers into the four directions as the prayers are released from the "dancing cones."
Compared to butterflies, these light-footed dancers wear brightly colored shawls over their shoulders. Legend says that the young ladies and their shawls represent the transition from a cocoon to a beautiful butterfly. Beadwork and accessories match the multi-fringed shawls, creating a splendor of spinning and fancy footwork.