Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stomp Dancing, I Love It

The Mid-America All Indian Center sponsored the American Indian Festival Pow Wow in Wichita. It was a great event. It might be smaller than some, but it is only three years in tradition. I think it will grow. It was an amazing event from beginning to end.
We arrived when the doors opened so we could visit all the vendors before the dancing started. There were local vendors and vendors from as far away as New Mexico. All things were lovely, and I chose to bring home something quite different this time. I almost always choose turquoise, a stone of balance and peace. This time I chose pure stone ear rings made by a person in the Santa Domingo Pueblo near Albuquerque. Each color represents a natural stone ground and inlaid in to fit the pattern. Yellow is different for me, but hey, it is time to spring out a little!

One of the first programs was presentation of the painted horse. A man showed how a war pony was painted and what the symbols meant. The horses used were far from a lithe war pony used by war parties. Instead Percherons, a draft horse, that pull visitor wagons at Cow Town were used because they were used to crowds. Those horses never blinked an eyelash while being painted. I think they are beautiful animals; their coats looked like brown velvet stretched across their broad beamed frames.

Once we had shopped, we noticed the line for Indian Tacos was getting quite long. The poor hot dog vendors were lonely, but it wasn’t even noon yet. So we got our Indian Tacos; they were wonderful! They were worth the trip for sure. You haven’t eaten a taco until you have eaten one on fry bread!


                                              Chief Dancer, leads entry
The announcer then called for people to line up for the grand entry. He said the events were starting right on time, not Indian time either! Grand entry is so moving. There is a Chief Dancer who leads the entry, followed by American, MIA, state and tribal flags. The National Anthem is sung in a Native tongue while the center drum accompanies the singers. Then a series of contest dancing and inter-tribal dancing starts. You can’t hear the beat of that Southern drum and not want to pound your feet!
                   Picture by Michaela Myer, note beautiful swing of fringe

The clothes and dance regalia is vibrant and unique to each person, each tribe. The women dances are slower and use jingle dresses or shawls or both. I talked to one woman who was wearing a beaded shoulder cape that shined under the lights. It had been in her family for over a hundred years.

                                     Picture by Michaela Myer
The men wear more feathers, more colors, and spin and stomp. I liked the men’s dancing best of all. These dances are now for competition and awards like they used to be for war or hunting preparation and recognition of honors as a warrior.
So many tribes were removed to Indian Territory during the Western expansion. Many tribes lost a large part of their people to disease, hunger and the elements, not to mention murder. The people who survived were just that-survivors. Their story is sad but rich in history and pride. Many Native Americans served in World War II, and they are justly proud that they could be true warriors when needed even if for the people who lied and cheated them. As Will Roger is reported to have said, he was mostly Indian but had enough White blood he couldn’t trust himself to tell the truth!


Sioux said...

I loved the anecdote about Will Rogers...so true.

Thanks for posting about this part of your trip, along with the photos. You took many people on this trip via your post.

Susan said...

Oh, Bookie, that was a great post. Loved all the photos, too. Thanks so much for sharing. That sounded and looked like a wonderful time.

I've had the Native American tacos, in Arizona, and they are definitely delicious.

Wow wow wow , you are having fun! Susan

Linda O'Connell said...

This post was fascinating. I wish I could have been there. When my grandson was two I took him to a Pow Wow and when he saw the men do their dance, he took off running and yelled, Big Bird! He thought it was Sesame Street character.