This weekend, my troop is heading to the big Indian Festival and Pow Wow held annually at Stone Mountain Park.
Pow Wows have deep historical roots, going back to the early to mid-19th century when huge summer gatherings of tribes were held on the plains, according to Richard West, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) . The Heluska society of the Omaha in Nebraska had a certain dance with a lively step that it would perform, and other tribes began to notice it. As the concept spread, tribes embraced the tradition of dancing and singing in different ways, adding their own variations. The roots of modern Pow Wows date back 50 to 70 years. From the small gatherings held on college campuses to large urban areas, today’s powwows are contemporary intertribal versions of those 19th-century Pow Wows.
Native Americans were big believers in all things living and spiritual and viewed life and death as an inevitable circle. Some of the powwow ceremonies they conducted celebrated this circle with tribal drums, dancing, food, chanting and traditional healing rituals. They acted out ancient stories handed through the generations, which kept their history alive.