May 6, 2013

List of Memorial Day Pow Wows and basic powwow etiquette


The rhythm of the drum signifies the heartbeat of the people. Singing and dancing are integral features of the pow wow celebration, expressions of the spirit of the people. We get together at a powwow to celebrate and to give thanks to the Creator for the good that we’ve had in the past. We say healing prayers as we dance.


The centerpiece of the powwow grounds is the dance ring – also known as the arena or dance arbor or dance circle. The dance circle is sacred ground, like a church, and should be treated with respect. Don’t let children play in the circle. Don’t take a shortcut across the arena, don’t walk animals near or on the circle, don’t fight or curse within hearing of the dance ring. These are signs of disrespect.

Most dance arbors have limited seating provided around the perimeter of the circle. The front row is reserved for elders and dancers, so don’t sit there. Also, if there is a shawl or blanket on a seat, someone is reserving it, so don’t sit there. Don’t sit in lawn chairs that aren’t yours. Because seating is usually limited, it is customary to bring a lawn chair to the pow wow if you wish to be sure of a place to sit.

The arena director or MC will explain what is going on. He will tell you when it’s ok to take pictures, and when it’s not okay. Please honor his instructions. Some ceremonies and dances are so sacred, they should not be photographed. Generally, you can take pictures of group dancing in the arena at most pow wows, unless the arena director tells you not to take pictures of a particular dance or ceremony.

However, if you attend a pow wow at a Pueblo in New Mexico or sponsored by the Hopi tribe, pay special attention to their policies regarding cameras and video equipment. These cultures are especially sensitive to unauthorized photography, and will definitely enforce their rules. Most of the Pueblos do not allow photography of any kind, or you need a special permit which has a fee and you must first explain what you will do with the photos. You can get your camera confiscated, escorted off their property, or even arrested, so follow the rules carefully.

Outside of the dance arena, always ask dancers first if you can take their picture. Most dancers will allow photographs, but if they decline, be polite and simply go ask someone else.

Do Not  refer to a dancer’s outfit as a costume. These are not costumes. A costume is what you wear for Halloween or play acting. To equate a dancer’s regalia with a costume is insulting.

Never touch a dancer’s outfit or any part of his/her regalia. These items are likely family heirlooms passed down through generations, or they were made especially for the dancer, involving hundreds of hours of labor, and have deep spiritual meaning to the dancer. They are delicate and hard to clean. Regalia is easily soiled by the oils on your hands, especially on leather and feathers. Be respectful and keep your hands to yourself.   A nice gesture, which is appreciated by many dancers, is to offer to send them a copy of your photos of them.

It is a sign of respect for male spectators to remove their hats while watching the dancing. You should stand for all Grand Entries, Flag and Veteran songs, and other times as directed by the Arena Director, except if you have a physical problem that makes this hard for you, then you can stay seated.  The Grand Entry, Flag, and Veteran’s songs are among the most sacred, so just like the singing of your national anthem, you shouldn’t be talking or fiidgeting while they are sung.

There are usually two Grand Entries per day for each day of the powwow. Usually the first round of dancing has a Grand Entry at noon or 1:00pm. The dancing will usually pause for a dinner break around 4:00 or 5:00, then resume with a second Grand Entry about 6:00 pm. Some pow wows don’t have an afternoon Grand Entry on the first day or an evening Grand Entry on the last day, while others do. This is a general rule, but times may vary somewhat at individual pow wows. 

In modern powwows, you will often see dancers with a number pinned to their outfit. These are people who have paid a fee to compete in the competition dancing for cash prizes.

When the announcer says a particular dance is an Intertribal, this means anyone can dance during that song, even if they aren’t wearing regalia.

There are often other ceremonies performed between the dancing or before the dancing starts for things like give aways to honor a deceased person, or a young person who will soon be having a pueberty rite or going away to college or joining the military will have a give away. Naming ceremonies and adoptions might be performed, or a dancer will announce a “Special” for a particular healing for someone or for the safety of a loved one in the military, or some other cause. 

Sometimes they will have “Exibition Dances” which are usually a dance that is less commonly performed on the competition pow wow circuit, or “Specials” which are for a particular purpose or special song to honor a special person, to promote healing of a particular person, or as a memorial to a particular event.  “Sneekups” are dances with less predictable beats that are designed to make dancers take a mis-step if they aren’t paying attention, and helps to eliminate less skilled dancers in competition dances. Dancers that know the traditional songs will know where the odd beats are coming and won’t mess up.

Most pow wows also have arts and crafts booths where you may purchase items, and a variety of food booths. Some have a free community feast of traditional foods at some time during the pow wow. Many provide on site primitive campsites for the weekend if the pow wow runs for more than a day.

Some pow wows have additional activities in addition to the pow wow dancing and ceremonies, such as parades, rodeo events and horse races, fun runs and games for the kids, and hand games (also called stick games) a traditional gambling game for the adults. There might also be a casino gambling tent on reservations that have casinos. Some powwows have craft demonstrations and story telling events throughout the day.

Upcoming Pow Wows in May

Most powwows are on the same weekend every year, but before traveling long distances to a pow wow, be sure to verify dates with the powwow committe, because they do sometimes change or become discontinued, especially if it is a 1st or 2nd annual affair.

Spring Bear Pow Wow
When: May 18, 2013
Where:  Regis University Field House, 3333 Regis Blvd (50th Ave), Denver, Colorado
Admission: Free

20th Annual Drums on the Pocomoke
When: May 18 – 19, 2013, 12:00 pm -5:00 pm
Where:   Cypress Park, Pocomoke City, Maryland
Size: Less than 100 dancers
Website: AssateaguePeople

25th Annual Snow Mountain Pow Wow
When: May 25 & 26 2013 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Where: 20 minutes NorthEast of Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Take highway US-95 North.Take exit #99 / SNOW MOUNTAIN turn left, towards the Pow Wow.
Who: Las Vegas Paiute Tribe
Website:Las Vegas Paiute Tribe

4th Annual Oshke-Kno-Kewéwen Pow Wow. (Honoring the New Eagle Staff Pow-Wow)
When: May 25 & 26 2013 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Where: Pokagon Band’s campus at 58620 Sink Road, Dowagiac MI.
Who: Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
Admission: Free. Camping is also free.
Phone: Please call (269) 462-4200 for more information.

Big Sandy Rancheria 12th Annual Pow Wow & Gathering
When: May 25 & 26 2013 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Where: Big Sandy Rancheria, 37387 Auberry Mission Rd. Auberry, CA
Who: Big Sandy Band of Mono Indians
Admission: Free to Public, Free to vendors. Camping available.
Website:Big Sandy Rancheria

45th Annual AIS Memorial Day Weekend Powwow
When: May 25 & 26 2013 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Where: 4-H Camp Marshall, Spencer, Massachusetts.
Who: American Indianist Society
Admission: One-day entrance fees: $5 adult and youth 15+, $2 youth 14 & younger. Weekend rates vary.
Website:American Indianist Society

39th Annual De-Un-Da-Ga Memorial Day Powwow
When: May24-May28, 2013 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Where: Custaloga Town Scout Reservation, 7 Boy Scout Lane, Carlton, PA 16311
Admission: Daily Admission: Adults (13+) – $5, Youth (7-12) – $3, Child ( Website:

17 th Annual Standing Bear Powwow
When: May24-May26 2013 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Where: Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 South P street, Bakersfield, CA 93307
On Hwy 58 take the Union Ave offramp, head south on Union about 1 mile, turn right on Belle Terrace, 1/2 mile to gate.
Who: Kern Events
Admission: $6 adults; children under 10 are free.
Website:Kern Events

American Indian Council of Laredo 20th Annual Memorial Day PowWow
When: May24-May25 2013 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Where: Laredo Civic Center, 2400 San Bernardo Ave, Laredo, TX 78040
Coming south bound on I35 exit Park Street make right turn on Park one block make right turn on San Bernardo Ave. going north about a block is an entrance right after swiming pool or goto corner and make a left turn right after fire station and turn left in parking about a block. If coming from high way 59 go south on I35 plus the directions above.
Admission: Free to public. Vendor spaces $45.00.
Phone: Contact: Xavier Delapass Sanchez for more information. 210-461-4798

4th Annual Native Woodland Gathering
When: May25-May26 2013 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Where: Hall-Fawcett Park, 4595 CR 153 , Zanesfield, OH 43360, 1 mile west of the Junction of US 33 & SR’s 292 & 153
Admission: Pow wow Admission is free. Drama Admission $4.00 per person $2.00 for children 6-12 no charge for children under 6. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Primitive camping available. Electric is extremely limited, please let us know if electric is needed for health reasons if you are camping.
Website:Now part of the 33rd Annual Logan Hills Festival

Pow Wow On The Hudson
When: May 25th Sat., 26th Sun. , & 27th Mon. 2013
Where: University Settlement Camp, 724 Walcott Ave., Beacon, N.Y. 12580
Admission: $6 adult (12 & up) $5 Seniors & children (6-11) Free parking, handicap friendly.
Phone: For more information, contact Tony Moon Hawk: 917-415-5139 or Marcey Tree In The Wind 973-981-1954

MOWA Choctaw Pow Wow for Youth ages 3-17
When: May 25
Where: MOWA Choctaw Cultural Center and Tribal Grounds,1080 W. Red Fox Road, Mount Vernon, AL 36560
Who: MOWA Choctaw Cultural Center
Admission: $3.00, Under 3, Free
Phone: For more information, contact Aretta Weaver 251-769-0929 or 251-829-5500

32nd Annual UCR Pow Wow
When: May 24 – 25, 2013
Where: UC Riverside, Sports Complex, 1000 W. Blaine St. Riverside, CA 92507
Who: University of California at Riverside
Admission: Admission is free, and parking will be $5
Phone: For more details please call 951-827-3850
Website: UC at Riverside

21st Annual Monacan Powwow
When: May 18-19, 2013
Where: Rt. 130, 6 Miles West of Rt. 29 In Elon, VA.
Who: Monacan Indian Nation
Admission: Adults $7.00, Seniors and Children 6-12 $5.00, 5 and under FREE
Website:Monacan Indian Nation

Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow
When: May 17-18, 2013
Where: Chief Joseph Alcide Pierite Pow Wow Grounds on the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe Reservation, Marksville, Louisiana
Who: Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Lousiana
Admission: General Admission – $5; Children (5 yrs & Younger) – $3; Registered DRUMS & DANCERS (in regalia) and Paragon associates with badges WILL BE ADMITTED FREE.
Website:Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow For more information, call 1-800-946-1946

42nd Annual Stanford Pow Wow
When: May 10-12, 2013 (Mother’s Day Weekend)
Where: Stanford University Campus, Arboretum Rd & Galvez St, Stanford, CA 94305 (The Powwow will be held in the Eucalyptus Grove at Galvez and Campus Drives)
Who: Stanford American Indian Organization
Size: Attendance of over 25,000 is expected, making it the largest student-run powwow in the United States and one of the largest events of its kind on the West Coast.
Admission: No admission fees posted. Camping at the Stanford Powwow is “first come-first served”. (No overnight camping until Friday) and a suggested donation will be posted at the “Camping Registration” table. Space is available for tent, rv, or car camping…but there are no electrical hookups. Portable toilets and sinks are on site. Please bring bottled drinking water.
Website:Stanford PowWow
Contact: Contact the Powwow Committee at the Native American Cultural Center at (650) 723-4078 or (650) 725-6944, by FAX at (650) 725-6900, or by mail at PO Box 20090, Stanford, CA 94309.

Dartmouth Pow Wow
When: May 11-12, 2013 (Mother’s Day Weekend)
Where: Dartmouth College Campus
Who: Dartmouth College
Phone: 603-646-2110

Memorial Day Traditional Pow Wow
When: May 24 – 26, 2013
Where: Cass Lake, MN 56633
Who: Leech Lake Ojibwe
Contact: Rod Northbird (committee) 218-308-3120

Native American Dances
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