Pow Wow Etiquette: 10 Rules to Follow in and Out of the Arena
The seats nearest the dancing circle are reserved for singers, dancers and drummers
If you’re a spectator, do not sit here.
“A first-time visitor looks for the best seats possible,” said Dennis Zotigh, cultural specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian. “The seats closest to the arena seem to be the best seats, but that’s because the dancers stand up and immediately begin dancing.”
Pow wow grounds should be considered sacred places
A blessing is performed ahead of time and your actions should show respect for this religious and sacred ceremony.
“It’s like going to a church,” Anthony said. “If you’re going to a pow wow, you need to honor where the dances came from, the traditions and story behind them.”
Refrain from negative thoughts or comments
The blessing that takes place beforehand sets the tone of the event and sanctifies the area, Zotigh said. Although the blessing is usually not open to the public, its spiritual nature should be taken seriously.
“Our elders have taught us not to dance or sing with negative karma,” he said. “That karma will expand and affect others.”
Do not bring alcohol, drugs or firearms to a pow wow
An exception is tobacco used for blessings or as gifts. Smoking is considered disrespectful, Zotigh said.
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