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The Pow Wow IV “To dance means for the organizers and practitioners to continue to exist on the American continent”

By 24 July 2017Blog

“To dance means for the organizers and practitioners to continue to exist on the American continent”.[i]  According to some ethnologists, the different powwow practices would be knowledge passed on by people who first visited various Nations to learn, re-learn and bring traditions back to their communities, but also distribute the teachings to other indigenous peoples. Subsequently, full contingents traveled to a community to learn the dance they practiced there. For example, the Attikamekws could go to the Ojibwa to learn Rain Dance. And if these dances “survived” and were able to be retransmitted, it is because in certain nations they were practiced without the knowledge of the authorities; To celebrate crops, for example.

Secrets could be exchanged as a peace offering to end old rivalries, as did the Dakota of the Sioux family to the Ojibwa. Indeed, they taught them the art of making the drum Grandfather, the heart of all pow wows. They also gave them the rituals surrounding this sacred drum and the accompanying songs. The knowledge of the dances by extending, allowed to add the latter to the competitions. And, it is with increasing the dance book, that the number of competitors multiplied. This makes it possible to offer colorful services while retaining its sacred character.

And it is on this sacred character that the organizers bet in the preparation and the unfolding of these events. Besides, a sacred fire, maintained by a guardian of fire, will burn for the duration of the event. The floor where the dancers perform as well as the whole site, is consecrated and they remain sacred until the pow wow closes. During the course of the activities, no consumption of alcohol or drugs is tolerated. If an organizer finds that there are people whose faculties are impaired, he invites them to leave the premises. Also, seats are reserved specifically for elders, regalia dancers and their families, so it is wise for the public to look for other places to sit, or to bring their own seat.

Entrances and exits reserved for dancers must remain free at all times and it is forbidden to let the children play in the dance arenas. People from the public are encouraged to follow the advertiser’s instructions. The moment when the public can join the dancers will be announced, but also when it is time to get up and take off his hat (when entering and leaving of the Eagle staffs) , during the opening and closing ceremonies of the pow wow, and in sacred ceremonial chants).