Hope you are ready for the annual American Indian Council of Laredo’s PowWow at the Civic Center? Starting Friday, May 27, 2011 at 5:00pm, you can join the various nations represented in honoring veterans. If you’ve been to the Laredo PowWows before, you know there will be various dances, drumming and story-telling and plenty of items to buy. I’ll be sure to stop in and stock up on more smudge sticks.
It does say supported by the city of Laredo and “the Honorable Raul G. Salinas, Mayor of Laredo” so… does that mean we are going to see him dancing when it is all nations are called? I’ll be sure to take my camera.
If it’s your first time, here is general “Pow Wow Etiquette” from PowWows.com. Laredo does seem to host a more lax event but nonetheless, you should know.
1. Be on time. The Committee is doing everything possible to ensure that activities begin and run smoothly. Please cooperate in this regard.
2. Appropriate dress and behavior is required in the Arena. Anyone unwilling to abide by this rule will be asked to leave by the Arena Director. (If you are going to dance, try to wear dance clothes.)
3. Arena benches are reserved for dancers. Dancers wishing to reserve a space on the bench should place a blanket in that space before the dance begins. Please do not sit on someone else’s blanket unless invited. Uncovered benches are considered unreserved.
4. Listen to the Master of Ceremonies. He will announce who is to dance, and when.
5. Respect the position of the Head Man and Head Woman Dancers. Their role entitles them to start each song or set of songs. Please wait until they have started to dance before you join in.
6. Dance as long and as hard as you can. When not dancing, be quiet and respect the Arena
7. Be aware that someone standing behind you may not be able to see over you. Make room, step aside, sit, or kneel if someone is behind you.
8. Show respect to the flag and honor songs by standing during “Special” songs, stand in place until the sponsors of the song have danced a complete circle and have come around you, then join in. If you are not dancing, continue to stand quietly until the song is completed.
9. While dancing at any Pow Wow, honor the protocol of the sponsoring group.
10. Some songs require that you dance only if you are familiar with the routine or are eligible to participate. Trot dances, snake, buffalo, etc. require particular steps or routines. If you are not familiar with these dances, observe and learn. Watch the Head Dancers to learn the procedures. Only Veterans are permitted to dance some Veteran’s songs, unless otherwise stated; listen to the MC for instructions.
11. The Flag Song, or Indian National Anthem, is sung when the American Flag is raised or lowered. Please stand and remove hats during the singing of this song. It is not a song for dancing.
12. Powwows are usually non-profit. It depends upon donations, raffles, blanket dances, etc. for support. Donations are encouraged as a way to honor someone. Any participant can drop money onto the blanket to aid in the powwow expenses. Support the Committee and buy raffle tickets.
13. Certain items of religious significance should be worn only by those qualified to do so. Respect the traditions.
14. Giveaways, attributes of Indian generosity, are held at many dances. They are acknowledgments of appreciation to recipients for honor given. When receiving a gift, the recipient thanks everyone involved in the giving. NOTE: All specials and giveaways must be coordinated with the Master of Ceremonies. Please remember that is traditional to make a monetary contribution to the Drum for this request–clear this through the MC.
15. The Drums are sometimes closed, check with the Head Singer for permission to sing.
16. If at any time you are uncertain of procedure or etiquette, please check with the MC, Arena Director, or Head Singer. They will be glad to help you with your questions.
17. Take a chair. Most Pow Wows will not have seating for the public or enough seating for everyone. Also remember that the benches in the arena are for dancers only.
18. No Alcohol or drugs are allowed at Pow Wows.
19. If taking pictures, asked the dancer first. Remember common courtesy and ask permission. Group photographs are usually alright to take, but you might want to ask the committee first.
Remember that in each area you travel to and visit, things can and will be slightly different than your area. Different groups and have different customs and methods of doing things. Different is not wrong, just different. Be respectful of the uniqueness of each area.