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.