Pow Wow Giveaways

Pow Wow Giveaways

From time to time, something will happen in your life that you want to commemorate at a Native American dance: a birthday; an award received; an anniversary; etc.

How should you acknowledge this event?

A special with a giveaway?

Some other manner?

Honoring and specials can be broken into a few different methods: making a donation, an honor song, and having a giveaway.  There can also be other ways to honor individuals and groups at a Pow Wow. The first consideration is what kind or how big of an event you want to recognize.

Making a donation to the committee is probably appropriate for something like a birthday, an anniversary, an award, etc. Just give the donation to the MC and ask him to announce something like: “A donation has been made in honor of Joe's 50th birthday” or “Donation has been made by Bill in honor of Slim receiving an award from the organization. ”

Asking for an honor song is probably appropriate for items of a little more significance like a daughter winning the princess contest, a family member/friend winning a major dance contest, honoring the winners of the craft contest, etc. For this type of honoring you would normally make arrangements with the arena director and head singer(and pay him for the song) and make a donation to the committee. You need to coordinate this with the MC to be sure the schedule will accommodate the song. You should ask the MC to announce something like: “The 1st song of the next is to honor Jill for winning the princess contest. We ask that everyone join in with her.” 

Having a giveaway is appropriate for the major events in your life–being head dancer, entering the arena in your dance clothes for the first time, bringing a child into the arena for the first time, coming out of mourning, etc. For this type of honor, you will need to make arrangements with the arena director and head singer (and pay him for the song) and coordinate the timing with the MC. You should coordinate with your speaker as to what he will say about you and the event. Ask the MC to announce your honoring with something like: “At this time Bill has requested a special in honor of being the head man dancer. Joe will be speaking for Bill after the song. We ask that all friends and relations join Bill during his special.” This special will have a receiving line following the completion of the song and then the giveaway.

Remember, the main principle is that you are honoring an event in your life–things should be done in a dignified manner. Another basic principle is to simply do the best you can–do not worry about whether or not your giveaway is as big or nice as someone else.

How you conduct yourself and the meaning you put into your giveaway is what really matters. Here is a recommended order for most giveaways:

  1. The person speaking for you
  2. The man who led the song
  3. Principals:
    1. Head singer
    2. Head man dancer
    3. Head lady dancer
    4. Head gourd dancer
    5. Head veteran dancer
    6. Master of ceremonies
    7. Princesses
  4. Organizations (host of the event)
  5. Veterans
  6. Members of the Drums
  7. Individuals
  8. Groups of people
    1. Elders
    2. Children
    3. People who traveled a distance
    4. Any other desired group–mother, fathers, etc.
  9. Put money collected in the receiving line on the Drum

Since it is the role of the family to support you in your giveaway, family members are not usually called. An alternative to calling individuals is to give to them during the dance or in camp before or after the dance. Just have your speaker mention that in the interest of time, you are/will be/have been giving gifts to individuals “outside of the arena”. Also, if the dance is on a special weekend or in conjunction with an event, you might want to call that “special” group. It recognizes those people and places with a little more emphasis on the date.

Regarding what to give, the two primary “categories” are food and shelter–thus the normality of gifts like blankets, shawls, and baskets/boxes of food. However, just about anything of value/utility is acceptable–craft items, craft supplies, household supplies, etc.

One note for speakers at a giveaway: never apologize for the time used. A giveaway is a very appropriate use of time, an apology is not in order. Thank everyone for the time used, but do not apologize.

Do your best to minimize the time consumed–try to time your calling of names so that there are only a few seconds of “dead time” between the people reaching the person having the giveaway.

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Paul G

About Paul G

Paul G is the founder PowWows.com, who wears many hats as a business coach, photographer, and collector of quirky shirts. Paul started PowWows.com in 1996 while pursuing his graduate degree. With a passion for travel, he and his family hav  traveled the world, capturing unforgettable memories and photos. When he's not coaching or clicking, he's indulging in the magic of Disney.

7 Comments on “Pow Wow Giveaways”

  • Avatar for Bill



    Who receives in these give-aways?

  • Avatar for DLC



    You spoke of the persons organizing the Giveaways but who actually receives the things being given-away, the Tribe, the members of the Tribe, anyone attending the PowWow? I attended a native funeral once and witnessed a give-a-way but did not line up to receive as I was just a friend, I am not Native or family and would have felt uncomfortable, but other friends who attended did line up to receive. I just want to know what is appropriate, and if it is insulting not to line up?

    • Avatar for Paul G

      Paul G


      It really depends on the family hosting the giveaway. There aren’t any hard and fast rules for it. I’ve seen people just give to the staff of the Pow Wow. I’ve seen some people do very general ones and they will call up all mothers or all veterans. The family decides on that. Yes, sometimes people called may not be Native. If the family calls you, it is good and they want to honor you.

  • Avatar for Jerry cotton

    Jerry cotton


    I have Blackfoot and Cherokee in My DNA 35% Native American but I cannot prove this on Ancestry how can I talk to the tribes about getting in I don’t want anything I’ve got plenty of money and I’m retired I would just like to connect back to my heritage for my kids and grandchildren

  • Avatar for wardancer



    Good article

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