Native American Powwow

When: February 1, 2020, 12 – 5 PM 

Where: North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (PEC Gymnasium) 

Cost: $5 per person, free for under 5 

In case you missed it, the Piedmont of NC has its own Powwow! A powwow is a public celebtration of Native American music, dance, art, crafts and food. It is most noted for the traditional dances and music as well as dress-otherwise known as regalia.

This particular powwow hosts artists from across NC, SC and VA. It began as a student led initative by the American Indian students of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Their campus club known as Akwe:kon- the Mohawk word for “all of us together”, organized the first powwow in 1992 to promote the American Indian communities of North Carolina. 

Here is a breakdown of the powwow festivities as described by the Akwe:kon. 

We want to promote our powwow as a friendly, family-oriented event for people of all races to celebrate and learn about the culture of the First Americans. The powwow begins with a Grand Entry of all the dancers. A Master of Ceremonies takes charge of announcing when events will take place and explaining what is going on. Grand Entry is followed by a Flag Song to honor both the American flag and the traditional flag of Indian people: the Eagle Staff. Next comes a Veteran’s Song to honor all those who have served our country in any of the branches of the military.

The remainder of the dance session is full of intertribal and exhibition dances to feature different dance styles and categories. Specialty dances like hoop dances, smoke dances, round dances, two-steps are woven into the dance program. Audience participation is encouraged by the MC on some of the dances. This is a traditional powwow that emphasizes intertribal brotherhood and sisterhood in addition to education about Indian culture. There are no dance contests.  Typically, we are fortunate to have somewhere around 150 dancers and six drums in attendance. Our audience size over the entire day is approximately 2000.

Throughout the powwow, arts and crafts traders are set up in the foyer of the gymnasium. Woodcarving, silverwork, beadwork, leatherwork, etc. are on display for educational purposes as well as for purchase.  The powwow features Honor Dances for the Head Man Dancer and Head Lady Dancer. The powwow concludes with a Closing Song.

The attire that the dancers wear is referred to by some as dance clothes, by others as regalia. Seldom are these dance outfits called costumes. Native Americans feel that costumes are things that are worn went someone wants to pretend to be something. Indian people at powwows are not pretending to be anything; they are being who they are. Sometimes Northern, Southern, and other terms are used in describing singing, dancing, and styles of dress at a powwow. Northern refers to Northern plains (the Dakotas, Montana, Western Canada, etc.) Southern refers to Southern Plains (Oklahoma and the surrounding region). Woodland generally refers to the Ojibway or Anishinabe people of the Great Lakes Region. Southeastern refers to the Native American people on the Southeastern Coast, down to Florida, and over to Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Grand Entry of Dancers: 12 noon

Intertribal Dancing (12 noon – 5:00 p.m.) 

Host Drum:  Red Clay

Head Man Dancer:  Isaiah Keith Robinson – Coharie Tribe

Head Lady Dancer: Cheyenne Daniels, Ms. Indian North Carolina –  Haliwa-Saponi Tribe,

Arena Director:  Jamie Locklear

You can learn more here on the different dance styles that will be represented.

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