The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 17, 2013

Bob Garrett's No Child Left Indoors column: Power of the pow wow


Pow wow tips

Do your best to be on time. Pow wows have a certain flow to them and you will get the most enjoyment and understand what's happening if you and your family are there from the beginning of each day.

The appropriate dress for the occasion should be modest. If possible, wear something that is indicative of your own native custom. It's helpful to remember that pow wows are much like a family reunion.

You may see blankets spread out on the bleachers and benches near the dance rings. This is similar to the way that people in our area set out lawn chairs to reserve a spot to watch a parade. If invited to sit on someone else's blanket, by all means, accept the invitation. This is a great tribute to you and your family.

Listen carefully to the Master of Ceremonies. He will announce who is to dance, and when. This will really help you to understand what's happening throughout the pow wow.

Respect the position of the head man and head woman dancers. Their role entitles them to start each song or set of songs. Please wait until they have started to dance before you join in.

Dance as long and as energetically as you can. Have fun. If you're like me and have very limited natural rhythm, just go with the flow, and honor your hosts with your participation. When not dancing, try to be quiet and respectful.

Ask lots of questions. If at any time you are uncertain of procedure or etiquette, please just check with the master of ceremonies, head man or head woman. They will be glad that you asked because it shows your interest in their heritage.

If taking pictures of the dancers, ask first. This is a common courtesy and most people appreciate being asked if taking photos of them is OK.

Leave alcohol or drugs at home. Also, keep your politics to yourself.

Each pow wow is unique. Different groups have different customs and methods of doing things. Pow wows are organized by non-profit committees that work for weeks and months before the event. You may have a chance to financially assist the pow wow through the purchase of souvenirs or donations.

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