Since powwows are "intertribal gatheringswhere local and supratribal identity co-mingle," the powwows occurring indifferent parts of the country with different dance styles, regalia, anddrumming songs "blend to form a syncretic 'Indian' pattern...believed bysome to appeal to marginal tribal people, those who no longer speak anindigenous language or live in a community in which traditional culturesurvives (Lerch 27). "Intertribal dance and cross cultural communication: Traditional powwows in Ohio." Communication Studies (Spring 2 1): 1- 18.
The dance is useful not only for bringing Indians of oneor many tribes together in unity and bolstering their sense of oneness butalso for reminding them of the tribal distinctions that exist. Sanchez (2 1) notes that powwows "allow acurious and often misinformed...public to interact with American Indians inwhat they perceive to be an authentic experience...quite different from theromanticized pre-contact or 19th Century ideal many people hold" (16).
The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Thus, in carrying out the ceremony, they werereinforcing their unity. Uses of Ceremony in Native American Cultures Ceremony is something that American culture has largely dispensedwith.
"Pageantry, Parade, and Indian Dancing: The Staging of Identity Among the Waccamaw Sioux." Museum Anthropology 16.2: 27-34.
The White Man's Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present. Louise and Teresa spread the shawl on the bed and laid out hisclothes, and Leon and Ken dressed him. Shestates that "Intertribal dance is an eloquent and effective means ofcommunication, fostering exploration and expression of American Indians'individual ethnic identity as well as cross cultural dialog among Indianpeoples and between Indian America and mainstream America" (Sanchez 16). The elements of the ceremony were known by everyone and noinstructions were necessary.
He relates, however, that thesetestimonies are true but incomplete, as they bypass the "disagreements andconflicts that occur within the powwow grounds and that swirl around powwowpractices" (Mattern 129). .Mattern, Mark.
The powwow, as an open ceremony that Indians of any tribe, and even non-Indians, areinvited to attend, provides an excellent communication forum that includesa number of communication strategies (Sanchez 1 ). "Southwestern Oklahoma, the Gourd Dance, and 'Charlie Brown.'" In Duane Champagne Contemporary Native American Cultural Issues.
Assuch, the Gourd Dance is a better alternative than other feel-goodactivities such as drinking alcohol or taking drugs. This story suggests that the simple ceremony of Indian life and theusual accouterments of daily living are a compelling force that draws theIndian back into the tribe.
Therefore, the powwow reinforces the tribal identityfor the Indian community but also draws in outsiders and marginal Indiansthat have lost contact with the Indian world, magnifying the Indian cultureto all. This suggests that inthe Indians' openness to include part of the Catholic ceremony in theirown, they have paved the way for the Catholic ceremony's rigid boundariesto be broken down to some extent. Victoria E. . The powwow becomes a forum forcommunication as visitors are encouraged to ask questions about anythingthat they do not understand, with the caveat that this be done outside thearena so as not to interrupt the event (Sanchez 13).
She states that they "serve to hold thesociety together, create harmony, restore balance, ensure prosperity andunity, and establish right relations within the social and natural world"(Allen 73). As Berkhofer (1978) states, "Native Americans were and are real, but the Indian was a White invention and still remains largely a Whiteimage, if not a stereotype...because it does not square with present-dayconceptions of how those people called Indians lived and saw themselves"(3). McLean, VA: IndyPublish, 2 8.Lassiter, Luke E.
At the same time, the coming together at the powwow is a unifyingforce. Moreover, she contends, "The most central of theseperform this function at levels that are far more intense than others, andthese great ceremonies, more than any single phenomenon, distinguish onetribe from another" (Allen 73). The story also suggests that the Indians had noproblem incorporating elements of the Catholic ceremony into their own asthey made sense. Allen assertsthat ceremonial cycles as a whole are a unifying force but that they alsoserve multiple other purposes.
The wearing of the buckskin was aceremony that had taken place every day of her life until she was taken andits smell placed her back again in the Indian life as though she werethere. Mattern identifies the elements of the powwow-the drum, the emcee, andthe music and dance-noting how they foster unity in the Indian community. The drum he names as "the core of powwow experience" because it "symbolizesthe heart of all living creatures and of indigenous people...the heartbeatof our sacred circle" (Mattern 131). BNET.
Lanham, MD: Rowman Altamira, 1999.Sanchez, Victoria E. The notion of ceremony as a unifying force is depicted in LeslieMarmon Silko's story "The Man to Send Rain Clouds.
" Here, the ceremonyassociated with handling the dead provides a focus that brings together themembers of his family to tend to Teofilo's body. Louise sprinkled cornmeal aroundhim. "As It Was in the Beginning." The Moccasin Maker.
The movements are restrained because the Gourd Danceexperience focuses more on what is heard than what is seen, so song iscentral to the experience (Lassiter 146). One of the primary ceremonies meaningful to Native Americans is thepowwow, the name of which is derived from the Narragansett Algonquian wordpauau, which originally meant "a gathering of medicine men for a curingceremony" but which has come to mean "a gathering of people to celebrate animportant event" (Mattern 141). Religious rituals such as observing the Sabbath all dayhave been relegated to only a few of the most devout religious sects.
After being raisedwith a white preacher and his family, away from her parents and the Indianculture, she one day sees a roll of buckskin unfurled and the smell of thebuckskin brings back a heady sensation of what it was like to be with herpeople-to be home. Ceremony is affirming and validating, particularly in a worldwhere Indians tend to be marginalized. New York: Alfred A. Thus, when the tribes come together for a powwow, it is an opportunity toexperience their differences once again, to see the distinctions amongthem, and to sharply redefine what makes each tribe and nation unique.
The manyuses of ceremony in bolstering the Indian community suggest that ceremonyhas been instrumental in ensuring the survival of the Indian culturethroughout the centuries. "The Powwow as a Public Arena for Negotiating Unity and Diversity in American Indian Life." In Duane Champagne Contemporary Native American Cultural Issues.
While distinctions may be more apparent there, commonalities alsoemerge. There is a sense of belonging there thatcannot be supplied by any other kind of belonging, not even acceptance intothe white man's heaven.
Powwows-"Indian dancing, regalia, princesspageants-and parades advertise the Indian identity of the community to alarger audience" (Lerch 27). They consist of setrituals that are repeated in exactly the same way every time, usually withthe identical words.
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