Each year, Morris area residents are cordially invited to join friends, neighbors, and new faces at a gathering rich in beauty, culture and tradition. The event is the Annual Powwow held each spring at the UMM PE Center.
The annual powwow is organized by the Circle of Nations Indian Association -≠ a UMM student group -- and is free of charge and open to the public.
Visitors are free to come and go as they like. Bleacher seating is available, or spectators can move about to experience the dancing and drumming or talk with artisans selling handmade beadwork and crafts. Grand entry processions are usually at 1pm and 6pm.
Powwow, or "Wacipi" in the Dakota language, means "gathering of people". Dakota, Lakota, Ojibwe and other tribal people come from across Minnesota and surrounding states.
Native Americans attend powwows to celebrate their culture, to meet with friends and family, to express themselves artistically or spiritually, or simply to have fun.
Music is provided by drum groups who come from throughout the region. Drummers sit in a circle and beat the drum in unison, taking turns leading songs and dances. In recent years, the UMM powwow has drawn more than 14 drum groups.
All dimensions of the powwow are rich in meaning and symbolism. The drum is considered sacred and is often blessed or named. Powwow songs can express thanksgiving, happiness, nature, or recount events. In history, some powwow songs were shared between tribes that did not speak the same language, leading to lyrics being replaced by chanting so that everyone could participate.
Dancers of all ages wear colorful, traditional attire that is often handmade. Decorations like beadwork or feathers can express the dancerís feelings, interests, or spiritual quest. "Honorings" from elders or family may be sewn onto the outfit. Traditional elements are often interwoven with modern symbols.
An especially distinctive outfit, the womenís jingle dress, is made of cloth or leather and decorated with hundreds of small cones of shiny metal. The dress originated with Minnesota's Ojibwe, but is now worn by dancers throughout the U.S. The dress has specific dances associated with it -≠ each step making the tiny jingles ring.
Powwows also include "honor songs" sung for veterans or special groups, or to thank the hosts of the powwow. Sometimes an individual is recognized for personal accomplishment. Often the honored person is presented with a blanket or other gift, and may respond by giving a gift in return.
The powwow is a wonderful event for children and adults to experience the music, dancing, and ritual of this distinctive Native American gathering. Be sure to join in the celebration at the next powwow.