Are Pow Wows Open to the Public?
The short answer is absolutely yes!
Pow Wows are vibrant celebrations of Native American culture that showcase traditional dances, music, art, and food.
If you’ve never been to one, whether you are Native American or not, you may have wondered whether these cultural events are open to the public. Let’s explore the accessibility of powwows and how to navigate one if you are not a participant.
Who can participate in a Pow Wow?
Yes, Pow Wows are open to the public.
What can you do at the Pow Wow?
Powwows are inclusive gatherings that welcome people from all walks of life. Native Americans hold powwows to connect with their roots, honor their ancestors, and share their traditions with others. However, they also understand the importance of cultural exchange and are happy to invite outsiders to join in the festivities.
Whether you're a Native American or not, you can attend a powwow and experience the rich cultural heritage it offers. Unless given special permission, such as when non-Native YouTube influencer Markian joined a powwow, only Native people physically participate in the powwow ceremonies and competitions.
If you’re wondering more about how non-Natives or non-competitors can participate in dancing, representatives from the Native American Youth and Family Center explain an option available to those who want to participate in this way:
“Pow Wows sometimes feature an “Inter-tribal” dance that follows the Grand Entry. This is a special dance that invites all to join in and dance together inside the arena circle. You may choose to join in despite not wearing any regalia.
However, if you decide to join the dance, always walk with the beat and be considerate of those around you. If you’re unsure how to dance, simply watch how other women and men of your age are dancing for guidance. Enter the arena with respect. Conduct yourself in a reserved manner.”
If you're eager to witness the beauty of powwows firsthand, grab your friends and head over to one!
What rules do the public need to follow at a powwow?
While powwows are open to the public, they must be mindful of a few guidelines and cultural protocols to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Here are some standard rules and general guidelines for the public:
Respect the sacredness
Powwows often begin with a grand entry, where dancers enter the arena to the beat of drums. During this time, it's customary for all spectators to stand and remove their hats out of respect. Remember, powwows are sacred events, and it's crucial to treat them with reverence. Respect is important to keep in mind throughout your entire time at the powwow.
Just like there is etiquette to follow at religious ceremonies or weddings, powwows have their own set of customs and traditions. When attending, observe and follow any specific instructions the event organizers gave. This may include protocols for entering and leaving the dance area, photography restrictions, and appropriate behavior during sacred ceremonies.
If you're interested in taking photographs or videos, asking for permission from the individuals you wish to capture is always polite. While some may be open to being photographed, others may prefer not to, so respecting personal boundaries is important.
Support the vendors
Buy Native and buy local! Powwows often feature a marketplace where Native artisans sell crafts, jewelry, and traditional foods. Show your support by purchasing authentic Native American products. It's a fantastic way to appreciate their artistry and contribute to the local community.
Powwows are open to the public, offering an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in Native American culture. Anyone can attend, regardless of their background. However, it's crucial to approach powwows with respect, follow cultural protocols, and be mindful of the sacredness of the event. So, find one to attend, grab your friends, and prepare to create lasting memories at a powwow near you!
Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by Paul G