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ADAM FORTUNATe Eagle  (Pipe Maker, Chippewa-Cree, Red Lake Band):  As an old traditional dancer myself, I find powwows have been a mechanism to unify  a large segment of Native people who have been broken apart by the system.  Powwows are a gathering point. It is a cultural, a traditional event, it is a homecoming for the people, the indigenous people. We can all as Native people relate to a powwow. Itís a reunion, itís a ceremonial time , itís many, many things all wrapped up in one: culture, art, tradition, ceremony.

GARY D. FARMER (Actor & Publisher, Cayuga, Six Nations):  You know, powwows are astounding to me as a  member of the community because theyíre so social. I mean, you see people you havenít seen in years and youíre wheeling and dealing with your friends for items  that mean a lot for whatever reason and then the dance and the song and the hand games, you know, itís perfect.  Itís a perfect world for us. Itís also a way to   economically keep, carry things on like this alive and  whatever people do to survive, you know? Itís a beautiful thing.

APRIL 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.

CITLALI SALINAS (Exhibition Dancer, Aztec ):  Mixeca. The name Aztec was given to us by the Spaniards but the real name is Mixeca. Itís spelled M-i-x-e-c-a.

 I started 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.

Keith 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.

Citlali Salinas:  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.

Keith Richard Sharphead:  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.


 Kirk Patrick Johnson (Rodeo Bullrider, Cheyenne River Sioux):   Where 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.

 Iíve 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?


BOYE LADD:   Well, 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. 

JOHNNY WHITECLOUD:  Today 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.

Terry Fiddler (Northern 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.

Iíve 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.

Kenny 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 it up.

We 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.


Wallace Coffey (Master 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.


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Last modified: September 03, 2012