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The History of the Powwow

Latoya practices for the Powwow.

The word powwow derives from the Algonquian language. To the Algonquian, a powwow was a gathering of medicine men and spiritual leaders in a curing ceremony.

Historically, nations in North America held ceremonies celebrating successful hunts, food gathering or warfare. These ceremonies allowed the people to give thanks, honor their deceased relatives or deal with special honors such as name-giving ceremonies, adoptions and coming of age rites.

Many times, a powwow — wacipi — was held to renew allegiances and maintain friendships with members of visiting tribes. The ceremonies often involved dancing and feasting.

The Powwow is an inter-tribal event.

Regardless of the setting, on or off the reservation, Native American people continue to express their cultures in the powwow. The powwow brings people together in a common purpose.

Families interact among themselves and other families. Tribal members reaffirm their heritage and identity. Hands of friendship extend to other tribes and cultures.

A network of support strengthens an entire race of people. Powwow means the gathering of relations of people, a place people come to get well, feel good about themselves and about their people. It is a place of good spirits.


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