Ground rules for Powwow Reports:
We think it is an established fact that contemporary powwows put on here on the East Coast are a borrowed convention from the mid-Western and Western tribes. To the best of our knowledge, East Coast tribes and Native groups had social gatherings and social dances, but they were not much like the western powwows in design.
It is our understanding that the proper protocol involved in borrowing something or using a powwow song by permission is to replicate the something or song exactly as it was originated. For example, we have been told that it is improper to borrow or use a song and then change it to suit your own purposes. According to some of our Indian associates, the same is true for powwows. They feel that if someone is going to put on a powwow in the general sense of the term, then generally established and accepted powwow form, protocol, and etiquette should be followed. We at NCNativeNews agree with that.
Our reports on powwows are based on, and will continue to reflect, the generally accepted and established form of a contemporary powwow.
For the powwow developmentally challenged, the following are the basic elements of a contemporary powwow: A dance circle or arena. A host drum or host drums. An announcer or master of ceremonies. An arena director. One male head dancer. One female head dancer. Sometimes a junior male head dancer and a junior female head dancer along with the adult head dancers. Flag bearers known as the color guard. Dancers. Spectators (usually). And behind the scenes there is usually a tribe, or an organization, or a committee, or a promoter who plans, organizes and puts the powwow on. There contest powwows and non-contest powwows. The opening ceremonies usually begin with a Grand Entry of dancers, followed by a flag song, followed by an invocation, followed by a veterans’ honoring song. During the course of the powwow there are intertribal dances, exhibition dances, and social dances. In contest powwows there are individual dance category dances.
There are many elements and subtleties to powwow etiquette and protocol, but we do not have the time nor space to discuss all that here. We suspect some of these aspects will surface during various powwow reports.