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A member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians performs a dance at their reservation in Peshawbestown, Michigan. Pow-wows draw upon ancient traditions of tribal gatherings that feature dance, music, storytelling, and ceremonies. AP/Wide World Photos.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Pow-wow is a North American Indian term with many meanings. It's difficult to translate directly into English because words represent thought patterns, and Indians traditionally thought quite differently from most Europeans.

Sometimes pow-wow means a holy person or shaman. Sometimes it refers to a tribal council. Often it refers to a ritual involving healing. Most often it refers to a celebration or ritual involving dance. The word conjures up community dancing, accompanied by the beat of drums and rattles and, usually, by singing rendered in the style modern musicologists have labeled "vocables," or ritualized chant.

Some of the customs practiced by Indian nations go back to antiquity and must be memorized exactly, so that an ancestor from a thousand years ago would know precisely what was going on. Many of the songs are said to have been taught by "First Man" or "First Woman."

Some pow-wows are held today for the benefit of tourists. Others are sacred religious services.

Europeans tend to sit in straight rows when they go to church. Indians dance. Europeans are used to being "preached at." Indians participate. Europeans are used to organ music. Indians prefer the throbbing of the drums.

I once asked an Ojibway elder how he was feeling. "Ninety-eight percent fine!" came the reply. "What would it take to fill in the last two percent?" I responded. "I'd have to hear the drums!" he said.

References in periodicals archive ?
A pow wow, derived from the Narragansett word powwaw meaning "spiritual leader," has historically been a gathering of North America's Native people.
For the first night of the Knowledge Is Pow Wow program Nicotine had Cree Elder Gary Moostoos and Donavan Shirt, an 18-year-old from the Frog Lake First Nation, as guest speakers.
Pow Wow Marketing will be providing scheduled text services throughout the tradeshow as well as last minute blasts for the National Center to keep the attendees and exhibitors informed in real-time.
One particular dress worn at pow wows is called a jingle dress.
1) Long Beach resident David Patterson, who is a member of the Sac and Fox nations, joins in a gourd dance during the Hart of the West Native American Pow Wow at William S.
The Pow Wow goes on through all hours of the day and night and lasts for several days with the drum beat never stopping.
4th Annual Mending the Sacred Hoop Competition Pow Wow
As a result of the pow wow I'm arranging for a number of young people to meet with senior police officers in the Caernarfon and Menai Bridge area so that they can discuss constructively what needs be done to address their concerns.
So began the 7th Annual National Forest Reform Pow Wow last Memorial Day weekend at an Episcopal camp in the Daniel Boone National Forest, 75 miles southeast of Lexington, Kentucky.
This commitment was ever-present the weekend of April 1st & 2nd (1989) as ACI staged their 4th Annual POW WOW in Monroe, Michigan.
As part of Visit California's long-term strategy to boost the state's economy by attracting more high-spending international visitors, Visit California joins the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board in hosting North America's premier travel trade show - International Pow Wow (IPW) - April 21-25.
Some Whispering Wind readers may have purchased, or made, a new roach with plans to hit the dance arena for the first time in the 2015 pow wow season.