samedi 18 mai 2019

A Brief History Of Native American Pow Wows

By Linda Davis

Originally, powwow started out as an Algonquin term known as Pauwau or pauau referring to a gathering together of spiritual leaders and medicine men. Pauwauing was a religious ceremony related to healing or curing individuals in the tribe. Today's Native American pow wows were born when a group of early European explorers overheard and mispronounced the word as pow wow.

In 1646, the Massachusetts General Court outlawed the practice due to the appearance of worshiping false gods, or the devil. While most often separated, the proper context of the word is actually powwow with no hyphen or separation between pow and wow. The ceremonies which existed prior to 1646 were much more sacred and serene than the ones currently produced by a number of Native American tribes each year in the United States.

Today, these ceremonies have evolved from the formal ceremonies of that time into a vibrant blend of festivals, family reunions and tribal dances. Most often best know for the beautiful and colorful feathers and costumes and dances, pow wows are now aimed at visitors as well as tribal members. Although, while visitors most often come to observe, a number of tribes still consider these events to be one of the most cultural and sacred events of the year.

Whether held in a small town such as White Eagle, Oklahoma or a big city such as Los Angeles, California, a pow wow can take place anywhere, even in a cow pasture. In most cases, the events are held on an annual basis, usually over a three day weekend. For, tribal members and visitors often travel from all over the country to attend these events.

Individuals whom travel to the events often see travel time as part and parcel to the overall journey. For, many use the time to contemplate personal beliefs and feelings with regards to the history of the Native Americans. In most cases, these individuals come to observe, sing, dance, play and keep the heritage and history of the Native American tribes alive.

Most people having been to one of these events report having an overall good or pleasant sensation. Whereas, the feeling is often reported as being one of a mental, physical and spiritual nature. As such, it is believed that this is one reason so many return to these events year after year.

A tribe known as the Poncas were the first to practice a powwow ceremony, at the time known as Hethuska in 1804. The ceremony was handed down to the Kaw and then the Osage who renamed the ceremony the Inlonschka. After which, the ceremony spread northward to the Omaha and then the Lakota or Sioux tribe which in the late 1890s began popularizing the ceremony on reservations.

During the time of the Lakota ceremonies, the festival was known as the Omaha or Grass Dance, a ceremony which spread faster the Ghost Dance of the same period. Unlike other dances with a ceremonial purpose, the Grass dancers danced for the sole purpose of dancing rather than as a part of a religious or spiritual ceremony. After which, dance became a huge part of powwows as still remains the case today.

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