In Celebration of Native American Heritage Month 2012
American Indian Cultural Fair and Dance Exhibition
Thursday, November 8, 2012
EUC Cone Ballroom
American Indian Artist Demonstration
5pm to 9pm
Pow Wow Dancing
7pm to 9pm
Co-sponsored by the Native American Student Association and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Call 336-334-5090 or search for “UNCG Multicultural Affairs” on Facebook for more information.
Also, please see information on our next Contemporary Issues Forum on November 6, 2012 on the topic of “American Indian Public Health: Past, Present and Futures” at: https://oma.uncg.edu/education-training/contemporary-issues-forum
Pow Wow Origins
There are several different stories of how the Pow Wow was started. Some believe that the war dance societies of the Ponca and other Southern Plains tribes were the origin of the Pow Wow. Another belief is that when the Native Americans were forced onto reservations the government also forced them to have dances for the public to come and see.
Pow Wow singers are very important figures in the Native American culture. Without them there would be no dancing. The songs are of many varieties, from spiritual to war to social. As various tribes gathered together, they would share their songs, often changing the songs so singers of different tribes could join. With these changes came the use of “vocables” to replace the words of the old songs. Thus, some songs today are sung in vocables with no words. Many songs are still sung in native tongue either newly composed or revivals of old songs. These songs are reminders to the Indian people of their old ways and rich heritage.
Dancers have always been a very important part of the life of the American Indian. Most dances seen at Pow Wows today are social dances which might have had different meanings in earlier days. Although dance styles and content have changed, their meaning and importance has not. The outfits worn by the dancers, like the styles of clothing today evolve over time, it is not a stagnant culture, but a vibrant and changing way of life. The different styles of dance are recognized by the style of clothing worn by the dancer.
- Ladies Fancy Shawl is the newest form of women dance and is quite athletic! Fancy Shawl is often called Northern Shawl, as it does come form the Northern tribes along the US-Canadian border.
- The oldest form of women’s dance is Buckskin. This is a dance of elegance and grace. The movement is smooth and flowing.
- Ladies Cloth is a Southern Traditional form of women’s dress. This style was traditionally danced by the Kiowas, Osage, Ponca, and others.
- Jingle dress is also called a prayer dress. There are differences in the origins of the dress among the tribes. The dress was seen in a dream, as an object to bring healing to afflicted people. It comes from the Northern tribe Ojibewea, or Chippewa, along the Canadian border.
- The Straight Dance from Oklahoma is a formal, tailored, prestigious form of Southern dance clothes. The overall effect is of reassuring solidity, with everything closely matched and coordinated. It looks as if it is planned all at one time. The art of “straight dancing” is in the little, sometimes unnoticed things, both in the movement and the outfit. Smoothness, precision with the song, knowledge of dance etiquette, and a powerful sense of pride mark the outstanding straight dancer.
- Grass Dancers—Originally done as a warrior society dance, it has evolved over the years. It has further evolved into a highly-competitive form of Northern dancing. Some believe that Grass Dancing came from young boys tying grass on their outfits. Before a dance could be held on the prairie the grass had to be stomped down. This is where many of the movements are believed to com e from. Afterwards the dancers would tie the grass to their outfit. Many believe that the Omaha tribe originated the dance in their warrior societies.
- A popular Northern style of dress and dance—the traditional style—has evolved from the well known “old time Sioux” style of the early reservation period through the 1940’s. Although a clear distinction exists, one can see an obvious connection to the old-time Sioux Outfit, with the dancer drawing from this earlier style various elements which he either adheres to or uses as a basis for his own interpretation. Therefore this form of dancing that has evolved over the years is the oldest form of Native American dancing. The dancer is also said to be re-enacting the movement of a warrior searching for the enemy.
- The Oklahoma Feather Dancer or “fancy dancer” is one of the most popular styles of dance and outfit seen at modern Pow Wows. The fancy dance outfit, as such, has no single tribal identity. The “Fancy Dance” originated as Fancy War Dance by the Hethuska society in Oklahoma. The dance style is of two types: a basic simple step while dancing around the drum and a “contest” step with fast and intricate footwork combined with a spinning up and down movement of the body.