Pow Wow Welcomes All People In Celebration Of Native Culture & Heritage

Oct 28, 2019

Pow wows date back hundreds of years. These celebrations of native culture and traditions bring native people together to sing, dance and drum in honor of their heritage.

The tradition continues right here in Milwaukee, and they're not just for native people to enjoy.

Products that vendor Yvonne Moore was selling at the 2019 Hunting Moon Pow Wow.
Credit Teran Powell

I went to the 15th Annual Hunting Moon Pow Wow that took place recently at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee. It's a three-day competition that includes dancing, drumming and singing.

In the lobby, vendors sell clothing, jewelry, crafts, and food inspired by Native American culture.

A decal Yvonne Moore made.
Credit Teran Powell

But it's the start of it all that you don't want to miss: the Grand Entry. Men, women and children dressed in their regalia are telling stories through dance. 

Inside the arena, blue, red and purple lights beam onto the dance floor. And contest participants are along the sidelines putting the finishing touched on their outfits.

Drum groups, spectator seating, and the stage for the master of ceremonies make up one large circle surrounding the dance floor.

A drum group at the 2019 Hunting Moon Pow Wow.
Credit Teran Powell

The voices of masters of ceremony awaken the room as they introduce the drum groups one by one. As the host drums begin to play the Grand Entry song, the audience stands to their feet.

Veterans carrying flags and eagle staffs are at the head of the line, followed by the dancers.

The job of the Men's Fancy dancers is to impress the crowd.
Credit Teran Powell

From the variety of brightly colored outfits to the dance moves, it's truly a sight to see.

Men's Fancy dancers are dressed in regalia said to represent the rainbow spirits with its bright colors, flying feathers and ribbons. I could see some combinations of orange, white, and green as they jumped and twirled. Their job is to impress the crowds.

Women's Jingle dancers wear dresses with metal cones. Each cone contains a prayer, which is released as the women dance.
Credit Teran Powell

The Women's Jingle is a healing dance. Their footwork is light and close to the ground. Historically, the dresses are adorned with rows of metal cones, one for each day of the year, and each contains a prayer. As they dance, the prayers are released from the cones.

This was my first time going to a pow wow — and it did not disappoint.

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