WHITTEMORE (Miss Indian World, Lumbee-Cheraw, Irish): I
love powwows. I love to powwow. Powwows have helped me as a young
person. When I was in junior high I had very low self-esteem because
of the identity. I associated myself with a Hispanic
because outside thatís how I looked even though I knew I was Native
American I said, well, Iím gonna hang with this group because
this is what I look like. Okay, and I got into powwows,
I learned about the elders, the veterans, the dancing, why you
dance. Dancingís the least of the powwow, itís why you do
it, why do you wear these colors, what has your grandmother or
your grandfather, what have they taught you? So all of that
just brought my self-esteem up. I said, well, I know who I am
and Iím Indian and Iím proud, Iím Irish and Iím proud. So
when I understood those things and my self-esteem just rose, my
grades rose, and I had a direction in my life, so that helped
me a lot.
(Exhibition Dancer, Aztec ): Mixeca. The name Aztec was
given to us by the Spaniards but the real name is Mixeca. Itís
dancing when I was around 8. Itís quite a responsibility
because youíre representing your family*, youíre representing
your culture, your country. Thereís that misunderstanding
that people have about the Aztec that they worship Gods, that
they had a Rain God, that they had a Sun God. We only have one
Creator. But all of our dances are
done to honor different aspects of life and of nature.
Richard Sharphead (Drummer, Canada ):
We met on the powwow trail and I saw
Citlali and, well, what can I say? I
fell in love. We were finished drumming for the afternoon
and then her program came up and Iíve never seen anything like
that before. And
then after they danced I went over there to see hi and to compliment
her on her dancing and
then when I did she - she gave me the cold shoulder. She doesnít
remember doing that.
It was his idea actually to start traveling with me
and I had already spoke with my mom and then when the time
came he had to ask permission from my dad.
I was really nervous. Beyond belief I was nervous. Throughout
the years couples have met on the powwow trail and to do that
itís - itís spiritual. Thereís like a bond that you have at this
Ė at this powwow and
you get to share that experience with your partner
and you grow as a result of sharing the dance, the song.
I have the best of two worlds. I have mine and hers.
Patrick Johnson (Rodeo
Bullrider, Cheyenne River Sioux):
I come from there are big, big ranches and all we got is land,
you know, cattle - we donít have a casino - we donít have the
people like you do here, itís just open.
And we ranch, you know, run cattle. Well, you gotta be
a cowboy, you know,
run cattle. Indians, cowboy, youíre brave anyway, you know, kind of a thing that Indian people
do, you know, back home , count coup and whatnot, you know, the
young braves and if you can do it and do it good and look good
and have fun, itís a dream,
living a dream.
always rode pretty good, you know,
since the time I was 13. I won my first pro rodeo when
I was 14, you know, my home town,
and I never really had a
problem with injuries. I was always in great shape and
thatís the main thing, you keep in shape for this sport. This
ainít everybodyís sport. If it was easy grandma beíd doing it.
This ainít golfing or nothing like that. This ainít basketball,
this ainít nothing. Football
may be close, you know, but how many football players do you see
that are 145* pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal, huh?
there are probably two different interpretations when we talk
of powwow. There are the traditional interpretations as well as
the contemporary. The traditional, yes, the foundation is based
upon what the warriorsí
experience have been. The
foundation of what we call respect . The contemporary version today evolves around materialism,
money. Money does
attract, yes, it does attract a lot of people. I donít
hesitate to say that many of the champions and the regalia
of today is probably the best Iíve ever seen in my lifetime. Money has carried professionalism to a higher standard
but many times I tend to find that the higher standard sometime
does erode the respect, the morals of our
people because of materialism. Money to many of our nations
is the root of all evil, but, again, Iím sorry to say that we canít
live without it as well. I mean, there are some
people that have developed dance into more than a profession,
it is a way of life. So there is some
good and there is some bad in that.
itís all right to have the HELUSHKA arena and the contest, the
prize money because
you look out there the best in the country, in the United States,
North America, this is the only dance that exist where thereís
not this type of dancing in England or France or Spain or Germany
that are indigenous to those particular people. So this is like
the only type of dancing that there is like this in the world. Competition. Competition,
Itís the pursuit of excellence
and thatís what we want all our children to strive to do,
to be the very best that they can be
as dancers, then from dancers have their pride of identity.
Traditional Dancer, Cheyenne River Sioux):
Our main goal as tribal people is to protect our sovereignty,
our jurisdiction of our reservation and our way of life. For many
years the government had banned our religious ceremonies, even
our dancing. People had to sneak off and do the ceremonies and
dances in secret. And I guess thatís what laid upon each generation that
comes is to protect what we have left
and see that itís passed onto the next generations.
My grandparents are the ones that taught me the dancing
and singing. We used to powwow quite a bit, you know, growing
up. And through my life everything Iíve done has been a result
of my dancing , my singing, my culture. Itís taken me, you know,
all across the nation, overseas.
got five daughters Öand uhm, my girls have been dancing since
theyíve been able to walk. Theyíve been at a powwow, every one
of them, about every week in most of their life. And taking them they had the opportunity of uh of being taught
by their great grandmother while she was still alive about the real traditional ways of our people and the dances,
the proper way.
Scabby Robe (Grass
Dancer, Blackfoot): The
powwow means very much to me. Itís my life as an Indian person.
And I started dancing when I was 5 years old. To me, I know we
need money nowadays but thatís not really important.
The important thing is that we continue on to dance and
to sing, to be an example to our younger people that theyíll pick
have younger generation thatís coming up, Iím very proud of. I
see a lot of little kids out there dancing they know that our
Indian way of life is certainly the way to go.
of Ceremonies, Comanche):
Iíve been fortunate to serve in this capacity for 30 years.
It seems like a
Master of Ceremonies has to be a jack-of-all-trades. You not only
call the program for the dancers and the singers but you also
entertain the audience.
* Sometimes you utilize a little bit of humor.
Sometimes Indian humor is one of the best things we have.
I think that
everybody wants to understand what Indian spirituality is, you
know, we donít belong to any denominations or any religious faiths
- spirituality is inherent to us and itís inside and the best
way to exercise your spirituality is to express it.