Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Celebrating

This week, Amy asks us to show what it’s like to be Celebrating for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. The Native American Pow Wow is a sacred social gathering, a celebration of the American Indian culture. This year, the 68th Annual Chicago Pow Wow was held in October at Schiller Woods, and although the weather was chilly and wet on the day that I visited, the lively drumbeat and energetic dancing eventually saw the sun shine on this well-attended event.

Intertribal dancing, where everyone is invited to join in, is more of a social dance resembling a pleasant walk in the park with a friend. It is interesting to note that the Pow Wow this year was held on the same weekend that President Biden declared October 11th Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and it was nice to see a Maori dancer among those in the circle.

Competition dancing is a whole different thing and takes a good deal of energy and stamina, especially when you consider the weight of the regalia that some of the dancers wear. With intricate footwork, bells jingling and the fast beat of the drums, the dancing gets underway and it is quite an impressive sight.

The regalia must be appropriate to the dance and some of the designs are absolutely stunning! I can only image the hours that are spent on beadwork like this. The Pow Wow provides a unique opportunity to preserve the rich heritage of American Indian traditions and share those traditions with other cultures. The Pow Wow brings everyone together.

The fancy feather dances are my favorite, with competitors twirling and displaying those colorful plumes. So much of the Native American culture is bound up with nature. Even the rain that was falling at the beginning of the proceedings was considered a blessing, although I found it difficult to look at it in that light as I sat shivering on a wet hay bale. But thankfully things warmed up and dried out later in the day.

There is often a significant cash prize at stake for the winners of these dances so they are hotly contested. But no matter what the outcome, everyone has cause to celebrate a successful Pow Wow. After months of careful planning, drummers, singers and dancers at this 3-day event provide a stirring display.

30 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Celebrating

    • Thanks, Tina! I guess I’m not a very good judge as I never seemed to pick the right one. I guess there’s a lot more to being a winner than just the fancy regalia. I thought they were all good but it’s probably all about knowing the right steps.

    • Thank you, Indira! I had been looking forward to this for quite some time and was disappointed that the weather was so miserable, but I think I managed to get a few good shots despite the rain.

  1. Wow! Wonderful photos recording amazing displays – great movement, colour and through your photos I can also hear the beat – such a super event! Thank you Sue.

    • Many thanks, Marianne! I was pleased that my 3-year-old granddaughter and her family were able to accompany me on this outing as I have always believed in introducing children to other cultures and although she may have been a little overwhelmed by it all (she thought the drums were really loud,) she seemed to enjoy it.

      • How lovely to share such an amazing experience with your granddaughter. She’ll definitely remember her special day out with her ‘nana’ for many years to come.

  2. Wow… those feather costumes are amazing. Great photos, Sue. These action captures are fantastic! I have never see these before. Thank you for sharing with us.

    • Thank you, Amy! We were so lucky to be able to share this amazing experience so close to home. This is the second Pow Wow that we have visited in our area and I will definitely be looking out for the next one.

  3. Just fabulous, Sue!! We attended an Indian rodeo (it was call Indian, not Native American so I’m not being rude) and dance event on the Crow reservation in Montana many years ago but were only there for the first evening when all the dancers marched in, not for the actual dancing. I wish we could have seen it but thanks so much for sharing these marvelous photos. What gorgeous costumes!


    • Thank you, Janet. There seems to be a divergence of opinion on which term is politically correct, (I’m always in fear of giving offence) which is why I have used both in this post but I did note that the poster for the Pow Wow referred to the American Indian Center in Chicago so I’m guessing that is the preferred title.

    • Thank you, Anne! Although photography was allowed at the Pow Wow, everyone was taking pictures, I tried to stay as unobtrusive as possible. The long lens certainly helped. Maybe next time I’ll try a more direct approach although I have to admit I don’t feel comfortable asking people to pose for photos.

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