Indian Education Title VII
Tribal Crafts and Pow wow Regalia
By Roy Cook
Pow wow Dance Workshops
July 16-Aug. 20, 2008
So. Cal. American Indian Resource Center, Inc.
San Diego City Schools
Indian Education Program
& Indian Human Resource Center
Info: (619) 281-5964, (858) 627-7362
Normal Heights Community Center
4649 Hawley Blvd.
San Diego CA
The Soaring Eagles
summer powwow dance classes will bring together American Indians dancers
from different tribes to share their Intertribal powwow dances. A schedule
calendar will be provided with the date, location and time. For up to
date information call Indian Education Title VII at 858-627-7362. Refreshment
will be provided to all the participants.
Summer time is pow
wow season for many tribal people. The inter-tribal pow wow is always
a chance to see old friends and make new ones. This summer program is
an opportunity to learn to dance, listen to the different songs and styles
of pow wow music and appreciate and respect new or different tribal regalia.
At the same time it is an opportunity to take pride in ones own culture
and participate in tribal celebrations. Many Tribes and organizations
in San Diego county host summer pow wows.
Before the classes
begin in July, the parents and children will be asking to sign a contract
of participation to guarantee they will attend all the dance classes and
sewing classes and to complete their children regalia.
We will schedule seven dance classes and seven sewing classes during the
month of July and August. A new location will be selected for the sewing
classes and the dance classes will be held at a park.
Also, the San Diego Indian community is encouraged to bring their powwow
regalia they no longer use to share with the students who will be learning
how to dance at the powwow dance class.
Local and family Powwow dancers will also be encouraged in volunteering
their time to help Vickie Gambala with the teaching of theses classes.
She has enlisted the help of the Indian Human Resource Center for this
In addition to the
dance classes Regalia making classes will be held on Wednesday evening.
The parents will be provided with material and instructions on how to
make their children's powwow regalia.
One of the cultural
and educational values most prized in Indian country is the ability to
observe and learn from respectful observation. Unfortunately in these
days of sound bites and impatience with the natural pace of human scale
(tribal context) these values often get trampled upon.
Along with dance
instruction and participation one of the major goals is the construction
of Southern California Intertribal Pow wow regalia. We would love to be
able to construct each and every type of Tribal regalia but for this summer
program we are presenting the INTER-TRIBAL REGALIA. Thank you for your
consideration and support.
Snacks will be provided
at each session.
& Aug. 2008 on Wednesdays at 6:00 to: 900 pm.
The parents and students will have the opportunity to meet the Summer
program faculty; Chuck Cadotte, Instructor, Carla Trouville, Sewing Instructor,
Michael Cadotte, Fancy Dancer Instructor, Eileen George, Traditional Dancer
Instructor and other volunteers who represent a variety of backgrounds,
interest and skill levels of powwow dancers.
All the student who
will be participating in the powwow dance program will be asked to bring
with them an index card describing what type of dancing they want to learn.
The instructors' will began working with them on their regalia. The participants
will be placed in their dance category to begin their first dance lesson.
The San Diego Intertribal Singers will sing traditional songs appropriate
for the summer program.
At all the sessions,
we will have Jennie Alvarado working with the other students who are not
participating in the powwow dance lessons.
Later we will be
having a special event for the participating students.
Pow wow regalia
This style of dress has many different looks. Many of the Eastern &
Southeastern tribes wear long full cotton dresses, or skirts worn with
cape-like blouses. Many women of the Woodland tribes wear a form of appliqué
on their skirts and shawls called "ribbon-work". This term refers
to wide bands of appliqué that were originally created by using
brightly-colored wide silk ribbons, layered on top of each other, with
designs cut out of the topmost layers. Many of the Plains and Plateau
tribes wear T-dresses, an "Indian" version of a one-piece A-line
dress with large open sleeves, which may have intricate designs sewn or
beaded onto them. Southwestern tribes such as the Navaho are often distinguished
by an abundance of turquoise and silver jewelry.
The styles worn by women are the most tribal-distinctive clothing seen
in the pow-wow circuit. A knowledgeable person can often determine the
tribe of the wearer by her outfit. Many dancers dance with very dignified,
graceful steps. Some of the Northern tribes will dance in place, doing
a graceful "bounce" to the rhythm of the drum. Ladies dressed
in cloth may or may not wear eagle plumes or feathers, and otter-fur hair
extensions, depending on their tribe's style and personal preference.
Ladies Buckskin Dress
There are two distinct styles in this category, Northern and Southern.
A Southern buckskin outfit consists of a partially beaded skirt; top,
high top boot moccasins, a southern-style purse, dance shawl, and a feather
dance fan. The dancers often wear chokers, beaded hair ties and fur hair
extensions. The styles of beadwork differ greatly among the tribes, and
although these dresses may have extensive beadwork, the tops are not fully
beaded. Modern dresses have very long fringes hanging from their sleeves.
Southern dancers will dance with very dignified, graceful steps around
Most of the Northern-style dresses have fully beaded tops, and are often
worn with fully beaded moccasins and separate leggings. The tops have
very long fringes hanging from their sleeves, and the dancer will generally
carry a fully beaded purse, a dance shawl, and an eagle feather fan. Occasionally,
a Northern dancer will have a wool broadcloth skirt instead of a skin
one, or have a cloth dress top that appears very similar to a fully beaded
top. Many of the Northern dancers will dance in place, doing a graceful
"bounce" to the rhythm of the drum. Most wear eagle plumes and/or
an eagle feather in their hair, and usually wear chokers, beaded hair
ties, and otter-fur hair extensions.
Ladies Fancy Shawl
This is a modern style of dance, introduced in the 1960's, when it was
often called "Graceful Shawl". The story I've heard is that
the women were so moved by the music, that they began to dance in a more
energetic style, some saying that their open shawl represents the wings
of a butterfly. It is very popular among the younger girls and women.
They wear a yoke or vest/yoke combination that is either beaded or elaborately-appliquéd
or sequined, a flared knee-length skirt, and a shawl opened wide over
their shoulders and held at the edges in both hands. They also wear leggings
that are beaded or elaborately-appliquéd cloth or sequins, and
beaded moccasins. They usually wear eagle plumes and/or feathers, and
long ribbon streamers hanging from their beaded hair ties.
Ladies Jingle Dress
This dress originated with the Ojibway tribes in Canada, but has spread
throughout pow-wow country. It is often called a "medicine"
dress, as it was originally conceived in the vision of a medicine man,
as a means to heal a dying girl, who recovered and lived to an old age.
This dress is made with hundreds of small rolled tin cones, originally
made from Copenhagen tobacco tin lids, sewn into rows on the dresses.
They make a beautiful soft "swishing" noise as the ladies dance,
and these dresses are quite heavy. Most dancers today still respect the
origins of this dance, and ask for permission from a member of one of
these original tribes to wear this dress. In the Northern country, ladies
will still dance this style clear into there seventies.
This is a very old, traditional dance, whose origins go back long before
memory. Some say these dancers originally flattened the tall prairie or
buffalo grass for an upcoming dance, or for a new campsite for the tribe.
Others say it originated with warriors sneaking up in the tall grass.
Whatever the origins, it is a popular and colorful dance today. The dancers
wear shirts or yokes and long aprons, with yarn or ribbon sewn onto them
to resemble long grass tufts. Their dance is supposed to imitate the grass
blowing in the breeze, long and willowy, with fairly graceful swaying
movements. They wear pants with yarn sews onto legs also, and may wear
a breastplate, loop necklace, or beaded "harness" in front.
A porcupine hair roach, eagle feather fan, and neck scarf completes the
Men Fancy War Dance
This is a modern style, often said to represent the modern pow-wow. It
originated in the "Wild West" shows in Oklahoma around the turn
of the century as a showy, attention-getting spectacle for the trainloads
of crowds from eastern cities who traveled to Oklahoma to see what was
left of the "wild frontier". All of us 'Okies' know who the
original dancers were, and their fame lives on long after their passing.
This is a very fast, energetic style danced by mostly younger men. The
dancers wear two bustles, one at the waist and one at the back of the
shoulders. These may be eagle feathers, or colorful dyed feathers with
ribbon or horsehair streamers hanging from the tips of the feathers. They
usually dance to "trick" songs that have abrupt stops, trying
to "trick" the dancers into messing up and over-stepping the
end of the song.
The dancers wear porcupine hair roaches with "rockers", a roach-spreader
with two eagle feathers attached upright to a "rocker" that
is supposed to rock back and forth continuously as the dancer spins and
twirls. Originally, these dancers wore elaborate feather roaches, but
these are rarely seen today. The newer, Northern take on this dance is
to wear a "spinner" roach spreader with feathers that "spin"
instead of "rock", and the songs are slower without the abrupt
starts and stops of the original Southern style. You will often hear contest
songs of both types today, and these dancers are often required to dance
many, many songs to prove out their endurance, like a racehorse.
Men Southern Straight
or Southern Traditional
This dance is widely known as "The Pride of Oklahoma", and is
often announced as such at pow-wows. This graceful, dignified style comes
from the dances done by the warrior societies of old. As they dance the
dancer "tells a story", tracking his prey or enemy, pointing
to tracks along the way. The traditional style of this dance is smooth
and graceful, and the dancer is supposed to land on the left foot on the
last beat of the song. Often a jerky, aggressive hopping or skipping is
sometimes seen today is done by unknowledgeable dancers, or those determined
to catch the attention of the judges in a contest.
The outfit consists of front and back knee-length wool broadcloth aprons
and a back "tail" which hangs to the ground. An "otter"
or "hair plate" drop is worn down the back, extending from the
neck to the ground, trailing behind the dancer. Cloth or buckskin leggings
are worn over close-fitting bike shorts (a "breechcloth" going
between the legs is never worn by real Indians at pow-wows today). The
dancer may wear a traditional ribbon shirt, a vest, bandoliers and a bone
breastplate. Headgear of a porcupine-hair roach or otter turban and a
neck scarf completes the outfit. Also a dance stick and eagle feather
fan is carried, and a "tobacco" pouch may be carried to hold
cigarettes, money, and keys.
Men Northern Traditional
This is the Northern equivalent of a Southern Straight dancer, with a
few important differences. Northern traditional dancers may wear skin
aprons instead of wool, and they don't have the long "tail"
attached to their aprons like a Southern Straight dancer. A trailer is
attached to their eagle feather bustle, which is worn at the back of the
waist. Most wear fully beaded side-drops over their aprons. Their leggings,
if worn, are usually made of skins. They may wear ribbon shirts or vest,
beaded yokes, breastplates, and a porcupine-hair roach. Some tribes may
wear an eagle or hawk-feather cap, or an appropriate animal skin as a
headdress. They dance with an eagle staff, war lance, or the like, a shield,
and an eagle-feather fan. They dance in a rather aggressive manner, in
step with the drum, telling the story of a battle or tracking a prey as
they dance. They will often be featured doing a "sneak-up" dance,
crouching before the attack. Some people say this dance style originated
with he Omaha tribe in Nebraska.
Finally, you may want to see very good images of recent pow wow regalia
and the source for much of this regalia information.