Powwows

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Winning Nomination

Powwow is an Algonquin word used by Minnesota Ojibwes and many other tribal nations historically and today to describe social gatherings that emphasize song and dance. Minnesota Ojibwes are known throughout Indian Country for their great tradition of song, reflected in contemporary drum groups such as Eyabay, or the music of the older Kingbird Singers, both of Red Lake. At the turn of the twentieth century in the United States, when indigenous cultural traditions and spiritual practices were suppressed on reservations, powwows and many forms of American Indian dance were considered illegal, and Indians celebrated the Fourth of July and other American holidays with powwows, finding a way to continue their traditional culture. Powwows are events that bring Indians together, and Dakota and Ojibwe people have a long tradition of cultural borrowing and inter-tribal socialization in Minnesota. Powwows combine elements of tradition and innovation to serve the needs of the Indian community. Powwows can be joyous events, or very solemn depending on the occasion, but they are always about cultural survival.
~Brenda Child, Minneapolis, MN

Nominations:Powwows

Contents

History

An enduring celebration

Tradition and change: the two concepts are interdependent. People uphold traditions in the midst of great change, while change is often the catalyst for the establishment of new traditions.

The American Indian powwow is a tradition that has not only endured but flourished in the midst of change. Nominator Brenda Child, an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, explains: "'Powwow' is an Algonquin word used by Minnesota Ojibwes and many other tribal nations historically and today to describe social gatherings that emphasize song and dance. Minnesota Ojibwes are known throughout Indian Country for their great tradition of song, reflected in contemporary drum groups such as Eyabay, or the music of the older Kingbird Singers, both of Red Lake.

"At the turn of the twentieth century in the United States, when indigenous cultural traditions and spiritual practices were suppressed on reservations, powwows and many forms of American Indian dance were considered illegal. Indians celebrated the Fourth of July and other American holidays with powwows, finding a way to continue their traditional culture. Powwows are events that bring Indians together, and Dakota and Ojibwe people have a long tradition of cultural borrowing and intertribal socialization in Minnesota. Powwows combine elements of tradition and innovation to serve the needs of the Indian community. Powwows can be joyous events or very solemn, depending on the occasion, but they are always about cultural survival."

The Circle, an American Indian newspaper published in Minneapolis, carries a full listing of local and regional powwows. For more information, see also http://www.drumhop.com/mnpowwow.html. Various types of powwows are listed there, from those recognizing holidays such as Veteran's Day and Mother's Day, to those celebrating achievements such as graduation and sobriety, to contest powwows where dancers compete for prizes.

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