A Little Bit of Culture

With having kayaked nearly 100 miles on rivers and lakes, and bicycled over 300 miles on rail trails, it was time to get some culture  in Minneapolis (MSP), MN.  The RV park is in Prior Lake, a suburb of MSP and on the Dakota reservation and casino.  Yes, David lost but Karen won.

Other cultural events attended was Mall of America; Costco; the Uptown Annual Art Fair; and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wacipi (Pow Wow) .

We attended the Grand Entry for a Pow Wow just minutes from our RV Park.   You can see from the pictures, it was colorful, loud, multi-generational.  Also it was enriching to see such expression of pride, culture and a sense of belonging and community everywhere around me. It was especially wonderful to see young children participate with such enthusiasm, after all these kids will take this forward and keep the culture alive.

Pow Wows are the Native American people’s way of meeting together, to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships, and making new ones. The pow wow is a method to renew Native American culture and preserve the rich heritage of American Indians.

There are several different stories of how the pow wow was started. One belief is when the Native American tribes were forced onto reservations, the government also forced them to have dances for the public to come and see.  Before each dance they were lead through the town in a parade, which is the beginning of the Grand Entry.

A pow wow session begins with the Grand Entry, during which all the dancers line up by dance style and age. They then enter the arena while the host drum sings a special song. Normally, the first in are veterans carrying flags and eagle staffs, followed by the head dancers, then the dancers follow in a specific order. Pow wow singers are very important figures in the Native American culture. Without them there would be no dancing. The songs are of many varieties, from religious to war to social.

Many of the various types of dances performed at a pow wow are descended from the dances of the Plains tribes of Canada and the United States. Besides those for the opening and closing of a pow wow session, the most common is the intertribal, where a drum will sing a song and anyone who wants to can come and dance.