The word “powwow” has become part of our own language. It originates from the Algonquian term “pau-wau” or “pauau” meaning a group of medicine men and refers to Indigenous North American social gatherings. Traditionally, powwows were community or family events where song and dance, drum music, games and rituals were central to the celebrations.
As a direct result of the largely discredited assimilation policies of the 19th and 20th centuries many North American Aboriginal customs and activities were outlawed and so traditional music and dance were forced into the shadows. Powwow celebrations eventually came out of hiding in the 1950s. They had been sorely missed. Nowadays, powwows are more alive than ever in North America, with thousands of participants and spectators from all generations flocking to special events. The modern powwow has developed into two genres: ‘traditional’ and ‘competition’. This modern version usually includes dance or music competitions with significant prize money at stake. In contrast, traditional powwows are non-competitive and more family-oriented. For First Nations peoples, powwows are integral to their identity and an opportunity to celebrate and preserve their rich heritage. Non-natives are also welcomed guests and there can be no better way of finding out about Aboriginal traditions!
Jul 11, 2016
You must be logged in to add comments. Please login
Post Categories

Art and Culture