Fanned eagle feathers are thrust into the blushing sunset. A sea of headdresses sway and shake to the beat. Neon ribbons flap against deerskin ponchos. Drum groups chant blessings through song. Dancers stomp on the sandy floor with their worn-out moccasins. Although I have attended too many powwows to count, I always find myself lost in a child-like wonder when ribbons fly.
My Nálís (paternal Grandparents) started taking me to powwows before I could even walk. A powwow is a celebration of Native American life. We gather to sing, dance, and cherish our unique cultures. It lifts our spirits and strengthens our connection with our ancestors. Each powwow is unique and encompasses many variations but the fundamental goal is the same for each—to celebrate culture.
Powwow is meant to bring all tribes together, through the medium of shared song and dance. This large celebration arose during the relocation period, when tribes were forced to inhabit the same lands. Although, it’s important to note that not all tribes participate in powwow.
A powwow is comprised of many different types of dances and song. Grand entry is the very first dance performed by all dancers. After grand entry, the different dances are separated by categories. Men, women, and children dance separately. Usually men’s categories are traditional or fancy, while women’s categories include traditional, fancy, and jingle dress dances. My Nálís will now have to travel to North Carolina to attend another huge celebration, right on our campus!
Duke’s Native American Student Alliance (NASA) is proud to announce we will be hosting our Annual Powwow on Abele Quad (West Campus) in April, after a two-year absence. NASA and the Center for Multicultural Affairs have been working tirelessly to make this powwow happen. Please join us in celebrating our diverse culture. There will be jewelry vendors, a Native food truck, and free powwow shirts. We hope to see you there!
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