Pow Wow etiquette and terminology

If you are headed to Six Nations for the Grand River ‘Champion of Champions’ Pow Wow this weekend (and you should) then you will hear the weekend’s Emcees use some key terms that as a visitor you may not understand. Here is a handy little terminology guide to help give you insight into what’s happening.

Drum Tent – This area is only for registered drummers, the judges, emcee’s, elders and other pow wow officials.

The Dance Arena – also referred to as “the circle”. This area is considered blessed and sacred once Grand Entry and Invocation prayers are completed. Only competing dancers enter the circle with the exception of Intertribals or other special dances where people from all nations are invited out to dance together.

Emcee’s Area –  Emcee-ing a pow-wow is a very special job as the person elected has to have full knowledge of pow-wow protocols, knowledge of the ceremonies and traditions, dance or drumming experience and be entertaining at the same time. The Emcee will announce the contests coming up, explain protocol to visitors, and typically keep everybody laughing throughout the weekend.

Elders seating area – Special seating for the elderly and disabled. Please keep pathways around this area clear for elders and disabled visitors to walk safely through.

The Eagle Staff – Usually a large cane shaped staff owned by the pow-wow committee/community that has eagle feathers tied to it. The feathers typically represent a person who has passed on that meant a great deal to the community – a national “flag” of the host community so to speak.

The Pole – After Grand Entry, the Eagle Staff is tied to the centre pole for the duration of the contest. It is “retired” or brought off the pole when the contests have finished and is re-posted at the end of every Grand Entry for the duration of the pow-wow.

The Bleachers – Get a great view from all angles in the comfy bleachers. If you brought a lawn chair of your own there is a space for that as well.

Food Vendors – Check out the various pow-wow treats from Indian Tacos to fruit salad. It’s all tasty, so don’t be afraid to try a little bit of everything.

Indigenous Arts and Craft Vendors – All vendors at the Grand River Champion of Champions Pow Wow are confirmed to be actual indigenous people selling authentic wares. Make sure you tour about and pick up some authentic Indigenous made artwork.

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