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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 ?
My favorite parts of the book are the question and answer interviews with pow-wow participants.
Pow-Wow Litfest takes place in Moseley on September 14 and 15.
Author Joel Lane (below) reading at the 2011 festival and (bottom right) Alison Moore at last year's Pow-Wow Litfest, held at the Prince of Wales pub in in Moseley (inset)
Often times, urban Native American youth seek cultural activities such as attending a pow-wow or sweat lodge to feel connected to their culture.
The Native American Heritage Pow-Wow, which began Saturday, will continue from 10 a.
Milacron aims to compensate with electronic displays of information and giving visitors the opportunity to pow-wow with an elite contingent of technical experts.
Following a December pow-wow in Chicago to get their story straight, they began flying around the country to "pitch their services to mayors and city attorneys.
A "very loved" sister-in-law tells her about a family pow-wow centering on "What are we going to do about Bar?
Nominated in the BEST NATIVE AMERICAN MUSIC ALBUM category, Weasel Tail's Dream - The Tradition Continues, Black Lodge Singers, Canyon Records; Rockin' The Rez, Northern Cree, Canyon Records; Bless The People - Harmonized Peyote Songs, Verdell's Primeaux & Johnny Mike, Canyon Records; Change of Life - Oklahoma Pow-Wow Songs, Young Bird, Canyon Records.
Kihta Wasoh Wapakwani showcases the Cree Confederation's vocals, drumming, and vibrant performance rooted in authentic Native American Pow-Wow tradition.
The group used the pow-wow to thank the ex-Beatle in person for his support during their prison ordeal.