Pow Wows are a cultural celebration of pride for all ages. They provide an opportunity for Indigenous communities to gather together, to share and to learn from each other.
These dynamic events showcase the drums, dance, regalia, food and crafts of Indigenous peoples and nations all across Turtle Island, otherwise known as Canada.
Pow Wows are inclusive events and the public is welcome to attend, however, it is important to remember that they are culturally signifi cant events and the utmost respect should be given to participants and traditions alike.
Women’s dances include: Traditional, Jingle Dress, Fancy Shawl and Buckskin. Men’s dances include: Traditional, Grass, Chicken and Fancy Bustle.
The Grand Entry signals the official opening of the Pow Wow. It is a call for dancers to enter the arena and for the dances to begin, and during this time the public are asked not to take photos.
Many generations gather together to celebrate friendships, build a sense of community, and practice spiritual healing.
- BE ON TIME. Pow Wows run on a tight schedule, so be on time to events to avoid missing important moments.
- DRESS APPROPRIATELY. To remain respectful of the culture and ceremony, make sure to dress modestly. If the weather is hot, a t-shirt and shorts are okay.
- RESPECT THE OPENING PRAYER. The Opening Prayer signals the beginning of the Pow Wow. This is always performed by an Elder, and the drum takes centre stage as the most important part.
- ASK BEFORE TAKING PHOTOS. There are sometimes during the Pow Wow that shouldn’t be photographed, such as ceremonies and prayers. Ask permission before snapping.
- DO NOT BRING DRUGS OR ALCOHOL. A Pow Wow is a cultural event, not a party; alcohol, drugs and fi rearms are never allowed on the premises. These items are strictly prohibited in a Pow Wow.
- PAY ATTENTION TO ANNOUNCERS. The Master of Ceremonies will be talking throughout the event, so make sure to listen for when to sit, when to stand, and when to join in the dance!
- KNOW THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN POW WOWS. Some Pow Wows are traditional ceremonies, while others are performed as a competition.
- DON’T FORGET YOUR TOBACCO. Offering tobacco to an Elder or dancer before a question is a sign of tremendous respect.
- BROWSE THE LOCAL VENDORS. When you’re buying from the artisans, you’re supporting Indigenous families and their communities.
- KIDS ARE WELCOME. Pow Wows are community and family events, so they’re a great place to bring children to introduce them to indigenous culture.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. A Pow Wow is a spiritual experience for those performing, but you may not fully understand what’s going on if you’re new to these events. If you have any questions, just ask!
- IT’S REGALIA, NOT COSTUME. A dancer’s regalia is how they dress their spirit. It’s a special piece of handmade clothing that holds spiritual significance to the dancer, and is adorned with beading that has taken many hours—sometimes years—to assemble. Be respectful and always ask before taking photos or touching!
- RECOGNIZE DIFFERENT TRADITIONS. Traditions change from nation to nation. Sometimes, a local nation holds a cultural expo of their specific traditions—such as a sacred fi re—or different dances that are specific to that region, like the smoke dance, switch dance or clown dance. Embrace the diversity!
Visit Pow Wow & Events to discover this summer's Pow Wow calendar!