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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.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
On Thursday, March 7, under the heading of 'Delving into the vast realm of Earth's wildlife', day two of the Pow-Wow will examine the issues and challenges arising from wildlife observation in tourism.
Theresa May's Government could fall apart on Friday at her Chequers pow-wow if warring Cabinet ministers cannot fudge their differences.
Miyo Kekisepa, Make A Stand: Pow-Wow Songs Recorded Live at Red Mountain is from 7-time Grammy nominee Northern Cree, a group known for their Pow-Wow and Round Dance singing, and their commitment to their Cree culture, language, and traditions.
In The Last Pow-Wow, by That Native Thomas and Steven Paul Judd, a Native American baby is born with powwow regalia growing out of his skin.
Sauces close to Jim say he'll now visit Henderson's for a pow-wow. Over shepherd's pie with Hendo's perhaps.
Birmingham authors Charlie Hill and Andy Killeen launched the Pow-Wow Litfest three years ago after chatting about the idea in Moseley's Prince of Wales pub.
So, it seemed the ideal venue for a literary festival, as Charlie Hill, co-founder of Pow-Wow Litfest explains: "One of the strangest things, perhaps, is that it took so long for someone to come up with the idea, given that Moseley is Birmingham's most book-friendly suburb.
Five meetings were held throughout last season including a "Pow-Wow in the Park" at Greenhead.
Often times, urban Native American youth seek cultural activities such as attending a pow-wow or sweat lodge to feel connected to their culture.
Paul business were also charged in an investigation that began when a man approached Terry Daniels at a pow-wow asking to buy eagle feathers.
peace has broken out at the city council, as all sides pow-wow over the cuts.
The culture and history of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians will be celebrated Saturday during the annual Restoration Pow-Wow at Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City.