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Monday September 01 2014
People of the Midwest
Native Americans and PowwowsWhat is a Powwow?
Powwows are ceremonial gatherings held by Native Americans. The Gathering of Nations Powwow is North America’s largest powwow. It is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has been celebrated since 1983. An April, 2005 article from American Profile newsmagazine states that the Gathering of Nations Powwow was “a dance competition, marketplace, and Miss Indian World pageant all in one huge three-day event.” The same article noted, “Powwows are about a sense of community.”
At these cultural gatherings, members of Native American tribes come to celebrate their heritage through stories, food, song, and dance. Once single tribe based, today’s powwows are gatherings for persons of all tribes. Powwows enable Native Americans to renew family, clan, and tribal ties as well as to forge social and political alliances, celebrate victories, and to practice religious and spiritual ceremony.
A staple of the powwow is the dancing. Dances can mean different things. Some dances are done to communicate with the universe. Others are done to honor the spirits of animals and people. The contemporary powwow provides an opportunity for people to celebrate their identification with Indian culture.
Here are some Internet sites to get you started on your search to find out more about Native American people:
500 Nations Native American “Super Site”
The Center For Native American Public Radio
Indian Land Tenure Curriculum
National Museum of the American Indian
Native American Public Telecommunications
Native American Student Organization of Southern Illinois University
Southernmost Illinois History
Vision Maker Video
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