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Eagle Warrior-March 2003


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    With the Powwow season nearly upon us, this becomes an opportune time to send post this. My wife and I and many, many others have noted with dismay the lack of respect shown the Sacred Circle by what is thankfully a minority, but enough to be noteworthy.

    The following does not constitute my personal concept of do's and don'ts or should and should not. It is the result of much research and speaking with many knowledgeable people. 

    I can personally attest that numerous Western Indians have remarked to me that they were amazed and some even appalled at what they observe at our Powwows.
There are some gray areas of course. For example, there is some discussion as to whether women should or should not be required to carry shawls in the Circle.

    We all fall into habits and need to be reminded from time to time. This is intended as a basic refresher on Powwow Respect and Etiquette.

   How can we expect outsiders to respect us when we don't respect ourselves and our own traditions.

   Please read and observe this list at all Powwows.

  By adhering to these standards, which should be enforced by Arena Directors and the promoters, you will be showing respect to our culture, to the Circle, to yourselves, to each other and to our proud heritage and tradition. 
  Being an Arena Director is not a popularity contest. One should accept this role only if he is willing to enforce proper Powwow behavior.
  Be on time (with a nod to "Indian Time"). The Committee is doing everything possible to ensure that activities run smoothly. 
  Appropriate regalia, dress and behavior is required in the Arena. Anyone unwilling to abide by this rule should be asked to leave by the Arena Director. 
  Regalia should be clean and in good repair
  Enter and exit the Circle from the EAST gate ONLY. (This is one of the most violated guidelines and is nothing more than laziness.)
  Benches in the arena are reserved for dancers. Dancers wishing to reserve a space on the bench should place a blanket or other personal belong in that space before the dance begins. Please do not sit on someone else's blanket unless invited. Uncovered benches are considered unreserved.
  Do not eat, chew gum or drink anywhere, anytime inside of the Circle. Water may be the only exception.
  Do not converse or joke with one another in the circle during Dances. It is inappropriate and offensive. Wait until the dance is over, or until you have left the circle. (This is also consistently violated.)
  Do not wave or attempt conversations from without to within, or from within to without the circle during dances.
  Listen to the Master of Ceremonies. He will announce who is to dance, and when.
  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. 
  There is no such thing as an (American) Indian Princess. If you have been given this title from some group or organization, do not expect any special placement during Grand Entry at some Powwows.
  While participating at any Powwow, honor the protocol of the sponsors. 
  Some songs require that you dance only if you are familiar with the routine or are eligible to participate. Trot dances, snake, buffalo, chicken etc. require particular steps or routines. If you are not familiar with these dances, observe and learn. Watch the Head Dancers to learn the procedures. Only Veterans are permitted to dance some Veteran's songs, unless otherwise stated. Listen to the MC for instructions.
  Money for blanket dances should only properly be placed outside of the circle. Donations are certainly encouraged as a way to honor someone. Please drop money onto the blanket outside of the circle
  If at any time you are uncertain of procedure or etiquette, please check with the MC, Arena Director, Head Dancers or Head Singer. They will help you with your questions. 
  If at any time you are uncertain of procedure or etiquette, please check with the MC, Arena Director, Head Dancers or Head Singer. They will help you with your questions. 
  Except for Grand Entry, feel free to dance in the direction dictated by your traditions, your Tribe and your heart.
  Line up at Grand Entry as directed by the Arena Director. There is basic protocol but each Arena Director also has his own methods.
  When the drumming stops during the tail of a song, sometimes the singing will continue, square off facing the center of the circle and resume dancing when the drumming or song starts again. 
  It is within the discretion and right of the Arena Director to request that anyone leave the circle for a particular dance or for the remainder of that days event for any breaches of protocol and etiquette he observes.
  If in the unlikely event that a person who is asked to leave the circle refuses, the Powwow should be stopped until that person complies.
  Planned Eagle Feather drops are disgraceful. In the unlikely event this does occur LEGITIMATELY, the only ones who may take part in the ceremony are blood Indians and preferably veterans.
  When gifting the circle with tobacco, please do not carry it on your fan. Doing so is a sign of mourning. Tobacco should be carried in your hand and given to the circle from your hand, not your fan. Plus, it looks ridiculous seeing tobacco (or sage, etc) being dumped on the ground from a fan.
  A Powwow celebrates the culture and socializing of the American Indian. It is OUR event and is intended for those of Indian blood as well as those who are under the blanket, or who have been adopted. It is not an outlet for wannabes or new-agers. Anyone who does fit into the latter categories should not enter the circle until those times when all spectators are invited. Neither should you be dressed in regalia. This is not a costume party or a place to strut and show off. It is a tradition that respects our ancients and the ways of Our people.


With Love to All,
Eagle Warrior

Carol Grigg

Carol Grigg

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Created March 13, 2003