Alice Thielges | Staff Writer | 4-23-2012
Last week the Council of Indian Students held the 39th annual Pow Wow in Bemidji, in the John Glas Field House. Pow Wows are a way of bringing communities together to sing, dance, and just be happy with each other’s company.
Pow Wows were not allowed before the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed in 1978. However, to keep the culture alive, many would hold secret Pow Wows. Many events take place during a Pow Wow, one of them being Grand Entries, which typically involve a group dance at the very beginning of the Pow Wow. This event, in fact, originated from rodeos. Besides the Grand Entries, there are many other events that take place during a Pow Wow.
Typically, while dances are taking place in the center of all the people, a group of males will drum and sing to provide music for the event. There is a group drumming towards the center of the event space, and another group along the edges. The group playing in the middle plays the most traditional type of music, while the groups along the outside are of a more contemporary style.
The majority of participants dress up for the Pow Wow in different clothing and outfits that are of a certain cultural significance. Cherie Kingbird, the wearer of the outfit pictured above/below/left/right, says that her clothing was given to her as a gift, and the eagle on her shoes represents her clan, while the floral embellishment is a part of the Ojibwe culture.
The majority of time at this particular Pow Wow was spent doing inter-tribal dances, where anyone can come to the center and dance.
Another event was the princess competition. The princess competition was held for girls ages 8-17 who were in school, drug and alcohol free, and wrote an essay explaining why they’d be fit for representing Bemidji. The winner of the princess competition is to receive recognition a special handmade crown that took over 100 hours to make.
The girls took turns with the microphone and announced their names and where they are currently attending school. After these introductions, the dancing resumed. The contestants danced around the center while the Smokey Hill drumming group played.