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Snow Owl April 2003


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Filled with the comforts of home, the tepee of Ellen Cowapoo
Johnson makes for a cozy stay the Pendleton Round-Up.
Beside the headdress that distinguishes him as Walla Walla Chief,
William Burke visits with Ellen’s granddaughter, Candice Cowapoo.
The fight to preserve Indian culture is endless, he says.
“Reservation kids are enthralled by what’s happening in the white community.”
Young riders pause at sundown in the Little Bighorn River during Crow Fair
in Montana. Legendary horsemen, Crow stage a rodeo at their powwow in which competitors ride bareback and jump from mount to mount in a
three-horse relay race.
“My dad made me start dancing at age 3,” Says Jonathan Windy Boy age 35
at this time of photo. “He never said why, but I didn’t question.”
A full-time professional powwow dancer, Windy Boy logged 26,000 miles
in just two months in 1993 on the Powwow Trail, collecting prize money and more trophies for his Montana home. By training for stamina he says,
“I’m probably good for another 20 years.”
A small splash of finery takes the floor at Red Earth as a youngsters moves with the throbbing drum beat during a competition.
Old Warrior was the nickname earned by Jim Swearngin, of Chippewa,
Osage, Cherokee, Scottish and Irish descent, who commanded a gunboat in Vietnam when he was in his forties. “We got shot at a lot by snipers,”
said Swearngin. “That’ll make your hair turn gray.” With his lance and
Yakama Warriors Association cap, he joined the color guard that carried
the U.S. and Yakama tribal flags at White Swan in the fall of 1993.

The exaltation of flight fairly bursts from an eagle-feather bustle at White Swan. The supply of eagle body parts is regulated by federal authorities, who also provide feathers of dead birds to qualified Indian applicants.

I make note here of the last of the above caption: Getting qualified can be a real chore sometimes. Basically, you might look the identical image of Chief Joseph, but if your Native American credentials are not etched in the same stone as Moses had the Ten Commandments, chances are Joe Gov ain’t gonna hear your request.
(This comment not part of the National Geographic article….Snow Owl).

At a powwow in Richmond, Virginia, the Stoney Creek Singers focus
on the drum. “It’s sacred,” said one young member.
“We don’t play around it or use foul language.”

Proud and relieved, Kimberly Marcus hugs her great-aunt, Charlene Tsoodle-Marcus, after taking first prize in the young girl’s Fancy Dance Competition at the Taos Pueblo Powwow. “It’s very stressful,” says Charlene, herself a third place winner among women. “You have to have a personal style.” For Kimberly and her peers, powwows keep the ancestral traditions rigorously alive.

“These celebrations,” a friend told me, “are how we maintain continuity in the ace of incredible change.”

After all those attempts to mold Indians, Indians still will not be molded, even into our image of perfection. They take what comes to hand and use it to hang on.

White society may have tried to make them into farmers or executives, but they're still doing just what they choose – being gambling moguls, spiritual advisers, Fancy Dancers: pragmatists who live on dreams. Michael Parfit

A spotlight comes on in the arena. It reaches down into the twilight of the entryway to draw out the color guard, the senior men, the veterans, the many tribes. Eagle feathers are backlit with gold, as if by the sun. A drum begins and feet pick up the beat. I hear bells and song. I hear Dale Old Horn at Red Earth, shouting into his mike: “We sing to victory! We are still here!”
Dancing, the Indians move out of the darkness. Michael Parfit

Below are Links to the Powwow Information Pages
[ Powwow Information Contents Page ] [ What is Powwow ]
[ The Powwow and Its Meaning ] [ Rules of Decorum-Powwow Behavior ]
[ Powwow Etiquette for All Dancers ]
[ Pow Wow Drum-J.R. Leõn ]
[ Powwows-Spirit Hawk ^I^ ] [ Pow wow Pictures ] [Powwow Trail-Pg 1 ]
[ Powwow Trail-pg 2 ] [ Powwow Calendar and Links 2010 ]
[ Powwow Calendar and Links 2009 ] [ Powwow Calendar and Links 2008 ]
[ Powwow Calendar and Links 2007 ] [ Pow wow Calendar and Links 2006 ]
[ Pow wow Calendar and Links 2005 ]
[ Native American Events Calendar 2005 ] [ Spirit Walk 2003

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Created May 9, 2003