September 1998, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut
sponsored their Seventh Annual Feast of Green Corn and Dance at a
tribe-owned farm in North Stonington, Connecticut.
2,000 dancers and 65 drum groups from North America competed for $800,000
in awards and recognition in the four-day competition.
is the World Championship of Native-American song and dance.
WOMAN (Mashantucket Pequot Elder):
Pow-wass is the
gathering of people. Powwow --I donít know where that word came from,
but is the gathering of Native Americans. I
think this is perhaps how Schemitzun got started: That we just wanted
peoples to come, Native Americans united as one as the corn is so tightly
woven together. Peoples
of the first light, to dance
with us, to sing with us, to share in the eating of foods, the
THOMAS (Mashantucket Pequot Councilor): To
us it is a celebration that weíre still here. It is an
opportunity to again, as we once did very often, share intertribal
culture with other tribes and scream from the highest mountaintop
that weíve never gone anywhere.
LADD (Powwow Consultant, Ho Chunk Nation): Powwow
originated about 400 years ago among the Omaha people of the Central
look to Schemitzun as perhaps being our national finals, our biggest
championship for the year.
Everyone looks forward to becoming the world champion.
We come in and we win a championship and we go home we pride our
people so that perhaps next year maybe weíll incorporate maybe
two or three younger people that may want to chase the same dream.
Grand Entry actually was created and evolved around rodeo. Eeryone
gets an opportunity to see who the competition is, the people
coming into the circle. We also carry in the flag. Youíll see
the invocation. Itís quite similar to that of
rodeo, a chance to come in and warm-up, get preparation
for the competition
have danced professionally as a fancy dancer for over 45 years. Iím just one of many,
many champions that, you know, had our day one time or another,
but now itís our turn to come in to teach, to get the young people,
our children, to come forward and hopefully exemplify some of the same feelings and emotions that we have
gone through, to enjoy the same
highs as a champion.
WHITECLOUD (Fancy Dancer, Otoe-Creek): The
culture, the tradition, the spirituality, the language preservation,
the song and dance - itís all meaningful
to all of us.
say juan-guz-a-duh -- it
means to be searching, grasping in the dark for something to latch
onto. So this is
how we hang onto our, all of our culture, spirituality and our
traditions and still yet coexist, peacefully coexist in a dominant
an inner pride in us to say be proud of - know who you are and
where you come from. Be
proud of what you are, but at the same time never be arrogant,
always walk in humbleness and humility and then in there always
be bighearted and broadminded.
LADD: We have our
warrior societies. I come from a warrior society that believes
in accomplishment by warriors, the feathers that we wear, the
color, the designs, just like the medals you see on a warriorís
chest, it also reflects in our regalia.
The name giving,
the feather giving, the whistle - the giving of the whistle -
many of the ceremonial aspects of powwow derive from what the
warriors had seen in battle
WHITECLOUD: So in
the old days there was fasting and there was preparation and the
all night prayers. You
put on your very best regalia that maybe your wife and your mother
or your families made for you and then your paint that you acquired
from the spirits from the vision, and then fix your horse up same
way. If we
should happen to die in battle to day we want to look our very
best when we meet the Creator face to face. Thatís why you put
on your very best.
thereís war journey songs they would sing, prayer songs to take
them over there. Then thereís homecoming veteran songs
And the scouts would
say, wan-wasser-shay. The warriors have come home. So they
all come out to the center of the village and they start singing
the drums. These drums.
And there would be all types of emotion. There would be
the mothers in grief and heavy-hearted because their son had got
killed, maybe a wife or a husband got killed. Then the others
attended to the wounded. And there are some that would really
be happy because their sons came home all right.
this Ha-dues-ka way would mean to get down off your horse and
unbraid your hair and let your hair hang down
and while theyíre hitting that drum, dance. Dance in a
sacred manner and thank the Creator that youíve made it home.
Later on the contests came and there is big money involved
LADD: This is the
biggest celebration in the country as far as finance.
Today I kind of look at powwow as a contemporary version of war as well
because here youíll have cultural pride, youíll have tribal affiliation,
tribal contests, tribal competition where each champion from each
nation or tribe coming together in the spirit of competitiveness
without the fear of actually hurting somebody or counting coup
on someone - that they come together dancing.
Out of that comes pride, comes respect, comes this identity
of being a member of a certain tribe maybe the world champion
Traditional Dancer, Rosebud Sioux Lakota):
we as Native people whenever we go to a powwow usually our third
song is always a veteransí honoring song. As warriors, we wear the eagle feather, we as veterans we respect
the American flag, the red, white and
blue. And everyone of our events includes the American
flag, although I cannot forget that the first flag was the Indian
flag, a single eagle feather on a wooden staff.
1924 the American government gave us citizenship status
to fight on behalf and defend their way of life. But we
as Native people weíve always been very proud who we fight, where
we fight, how we fight, and we put ill feelings aside. Nonetheless,
call it America, call it Turtle Island, Indian
Island, itís always home to us, indigenous to us.
Fight for home every day. Every day,
because I canít forget what this eagle feather means that
WHITECLOUD: So we
have forgiveness and then
we pray for the people that oppressed us
and there the Creatorís watching us and then heís going
to bless our children accordingly.
We forgive so that we can carry on and have our children
grow up in a real good way and
still hang onto their identity living in this dominant
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