Officials at told ICTMN that they agree its definition of the word "powwow" needs revision. The new definition will roll out in May. Agrees to Drop 'Magic' From 'Powwow' Definition

Simon Moya-Smith

On Monday, ICTMN reported that, the world's leading digital dictionary, defines “powwow” as an event where Native Americans practice “magic.” Since then, Native Americans and others have taken to social media to express their disapproval over the antiquated definition.

Within 24 hours, officials at responded to ICTMN stating they will change their definition of “powwow,” and that they will effectively remove the word “magic.”

Simon Moya-Smith

“The word ‘magic’ does not appear in our revised definition,” Stephanie Cooley, spokesperson for, said in an email.

UPDATE: Since the publication of this story, Cooley responded to ICTMN’s question as to whether Native Americans have been or will be consulted during the construction of the new definition:

“After reviewing the entry for ‘powwow’ we concluded that the definition did not reflect the history and usage of the term, and so we’ve drafted changes to reflect this. We plan to reach out to a professor of Native American Studies as part of our editorial process. With almost half a million entries, sometimes outdated or erroneous definitions can go overlooked and we depend upon our dedicated users to let us know if they come across any entries in need of review that we’ve missed,” she wrote in an email.

Simon Moya-Smith

Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, is the Culture Editor at Indian Country Today. Follow him @Simonmoyasmith.

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Juliet's picture
Submitted by Juliet on
What planet do they live on? I've long known that powwows are religious/spiritual gatherings of Native Americans. ('Magic' as usually defined is a private practice by individuals or small groups. It can be part of a religion, but is not the primary component.)