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The Dartmouth Powwow serves as an opportunity for members of both the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities to observe, participate, and learn from a broad representation of Native American Dances, music, and arts and crafts. Below are key terms and their descriptions.
The Host Drum serves as the leader of the musical component of the Powwow. They are designated to sing the first song each day. The song can be viewed as an opening prayer offered before a gathering.
These skilled and experienced dancers are appointed to lead all participating dancers in and out of the dancing arena at the start and end of the Powwow. The appointment of Head Dancer is a great honor and recognizes the experience, age and ability of the chosen individuals.
The Master of ceremonies acts as the narrator of the Powwow. He informs participants and the audience what is happening within the arena through storytelling, active narration, humor and regular updates and announcements. The MC has to have an incredible amount of energy as he serves as the voice that guides and informs the people involved in the Powwow.
The Arena Director acts as the mind of the Powwow. The Director is the one in charge of all of the moving pieces of a Powwow. They make sure Drums know when they are playing and what kind of song needs to come next. They are also the ones who make sure the dancers are informed of where they need to be and when. The Director is also in charge of judges and making sure each competition has them available and at the ready.
The powwow outfit is ceremonial regalia, not a costume. It is an integral component of personal & cultural expression and identity that is treated with respect and honor. Please be respectful and do not point, touch or take photographs without permission.
The beat of the drum is often called “the heartbeat of the people” or “the heartbeat of Mother Earth.” Indeed it beats for different dance styles in order to emulate a heartbeat. The drum is usually entrusted to the care of one of the singers and is treated with great respect.
The arena represents the circle of life. Those entering the arena should be reverent and respectful. This area is sacred and should be respected. Children should not be permitted to play in the arena.
If an eagle feather falls to the ground, do not pick it up. Let the owner or a powwow committee member know. If this happens, all dancing will stop and an elder will conduct a short ceremony. Stand and show your respect for the eagle as it is a messenger for many Native people and represents a link to the Creator.
There are many songs and dances to honor individuals and groups. When honoring a person, someone may place a shawl on them or put money in front of them. During these songs you are requested to stand, remove your hat and be respectful. The emcee will announce these songs. There are certain songs for which no one will dance. These may be memorial, prayer or flag songs.
The emcee will announce when photography is permitted, but please always ask for permission before recording or photographing individuals, especially outside the arena.