The smell of frybread is in the air. Young people getting all snazzed up to scout for a snag. The unmistakable sound of cones on a jingle dress and brass bells around the ankles of the grass dancers intermingle with the booming voice of the emcee. Blankets line the best seats in the house. All of these things coming together can only mean one thing, pow-wow season is upon us relatives.
Make ’em dance boys
The first pow-wow of the year for me is often the Woodlands and High Plains Pow-Wow in my home away from home, the Fargo-Moorhead area and this year was no exception. Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State University and Concordia College take turns hosting this event in early April. This pow-wow will always hold a special place in my heart because it was where my daughter first entered the circle as a tiny tot jingle dress dancer.
There’s also something really special about those pow-wows where you know you’re going to see your favorite people. I grew up on my home reservation in South Dakota and will always call that my home, but I have lived in the FM area now since 2005. I feel very fortunate to have become part of the community here. Our community, like many urban Indigenous communities across the country, is fairly diverse in regards to tribal affiliation. That type of diversity was not something that I got to experience much growing up back home as the majority of Indigenous people in South Dakota are Lakota or Dakota.
Achieving That Ever Tradish Style
This winter, I had the honor of making the beadwork for my soon to be sister in law. My goal was to make her beadwork as true to the Ojibwe/Metis style as possible. I love the way that we are able to represent our nations through our regalia. I think it’s important to stay as true to that tradition as possible but I also enjoy seeing more contemporary style as well. I mean, who doesn’t love some rhinestone banding or those big sparkly earrings?
The prettiest that I ever feel is when I am in my traditional clothing. I love the way that all the elements of my regalia come together as I’m getting ready. My very favorite part is just before grand entry, standing there with my fellow dancers and admiring one anothers beauty and resilience.
For those reading this who are non-Indigenous or even those relatives who are in the process of reconnecting, you might be wondering what to expect or if there are any rules to follow at a pow-wow. There actually aren’t many rules to follow at all but the protocols that are in place are important to observe.
1.) Do not touch a dancers regalia or any of the drums unless you are specifically invited to do so. Our regalia and drums are created with intentions and prayers placed into every single detail. Someone else touching these items could replace these with thoughts, feelings or energy of their own.
2.) Do not photograph or take videos when officials have specifically indicated that there are to be no photos or videos taken. Pow-wows are technically a ceremony and while most of what occurs during a pow-wow is generally acceptable to photograph or record on video, it is not unusual for pow-wows to serve as a time and place for additional ceremonies that our people feel are not intended to be captured on photo or video.
3.) Enjoy yourself! It’s true that pow-wows are a ceremony for us but it is a celebratory/healing ceremony. All the dancers are there to offer healing for the people through dancing and there is so much joy in this.