Powwow time is Aboriginal People getting together, to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships and making new ones. This is a time to renew thoughts of the old ways and to preserve a rich heritage.
Powwow singers are very important part of the Powwow. Without singers and the rhythm of the drum beat, there would be no dance. Original songs were in the Native language of the singers. Songs are many and varied; fun and festive war and conquest; honour and family songs; spiritual songs; songs of joy and songs of mourning.
Dancing has always been a very special part of the North American Indians. Most dances seen today at the Powwow are “social” dances which might have had different meanings in earlier days, but have evolved through the years to the social dances seen today.
Some say that Powwow is derived from the Algonkian word meaning “to dream”. Powwow is an ancient tradition among aboriginal peoples, is a time for celebrating and socializing after religious ceremonies. In some cultures, the powwow itself was a religious event, when families held naming and honouring ceremonies.
Today’s Powwow is more of a social event, although honour ceremonies and other religious observances remain important parts of the celebration. Dancing, feasting and having fun, the old ways are remembered and pride is taken in traditional heritage as old friendships are renewed and new ones begun. Elders say that coming together in a joyous spirit is an important unifying and healing experience which brings together many nations in a celebration of life.
Origin of the Powwow
It is believed by many of the Natives who still practice the Traditional Ways of Life, whose roots trace back to the beginning, “that nature and Native Peoples spoke the same language.” A common belief is that when the Creator, made this world, he gave, as in nature, a uniqueness and power to each tribe. Geographically, each nation enjoyed a very respectful and harmonious relationship with nature as a guide and provider. The relationship with the Creator was pure and its strength was at its peak, being both visible and heard through the voices of nature.
In times of need, guidance, and sickness, Indian peoples prayed and gave by means of spiritual fast, sweats, and sacrifice. Prayers were answered through the voices of Nature, thus establishing the Spirit of Nature and Man as one. This explains the reasoning for the creation of the clan system and its respect for the balance of nature. Each clan has a function and responsibility within the nation. Both nations and clan affiliation can be seen in colour combinations, design and ornament.